The Delta Queen, oldest and most authentic of the fleet, stayed in operation during chapter 11. Now under new ownership, the talk is that Mississippi Queen is back in operation with American Queen to follow.
A river cruise is my kind of vacation, which means the majority of the people who thrive on this website won't like it. The DQ is small, old as in doesn't even want to be modern, and gives you a taste of what it was truely like way back when. She was a working boat in her day, you were supposed to get on, go somewhere and get off. Less than 200 pax, southern food, simple entertainment. MQ is larger with modern conveniences, bathrooms that were built with the ship, not added on, built more like the show/gambling boats of the good old days. AQ is state of the art, holds about 400 and built by a riverboat architect who went to school in the cruise industry. In my cruise report years ago I described the interior decor as turn of the century New Orleans whorehouse. Majority thought it was an apt description. Those offended don't count. Price is in line with similar cruises in the luxury catagory. Since the boats operate in inland waters, they must be registered in the US, meet American safety standards and be crewed by US union people, any one of which is unacceptably expensive. But.......a crew of college age folks makes for great service and a whole lot of fun. And...everyone speaks english, sort of.
The boats tie up at some interesting places. A caravan of cars, vans and busses follows the boat (the damn thing only goes about 60 miles a day (if you miss sailing, jump in one of the cars, get a land tour and catch up that evening (actually, they will drive you up river and the boat will nose in to pick you up, a really laid back way to cruise))). No casino but we seemed to always park next to a gambling boat during the evenings.
A New Orleans round trip is convenient from their terminal where the party starts at noon, you follow the band aboard about three, and several days later they tell you to get off. Trouble is that is where the river is most boring. Point to point trips up river, either Mississippi or Ohio are far more attractive.
So...when they are back in business you will find comfortable accomodations ranging from spartan (DQ) to plush (AQ), great food (coffee and rolls in your bathrobe on the front porch, was never sure when you were supposed to get dressed), lots of Dixieland entertainment, watch the countryside go by from a rocking chair, makes for a real short week.
Another company that is doing well uses two barges and a towboat, actually a pusher. One barge is staterooms and the other dining and living. Not as opulent but very comfortable. Same river.
More than you ever wanted to know.