By Jim Craigie. Money magazine, July edition.
A few years ago any dream you had of following Mark Twain along the Mississippi River in style looked likely to remain that way as the last of the great paddle-steamers, the American Queen, tied up with nowhere to go, a victim of hard times. But a few enthusiasts watched and waited and in 2011 acquired the Queen for their new Great American Steamboat Company. Other enthusiasts noticed and lined up to board the great river vessel, six decks high and carrying over 400 passengers, as it set out from New Orleans in April on a six-night trip to Vicksburg. This Queen is really a youngster, built in 1995, so hopefully has many years to go.
New Orleans, Memphis, St Louis and smaller stops like Natchez and Vicksburg, all with lots of history, will be hoping so. This is not budget travel, costing from around $1000 up to as much as $8000 for the most luxurious accommodation. Meals, entertainment, beer and wine and some excursions are included. Numerous special offers were listed at time of writing, for instance an August 9 a 13-day cruise from Vicksburg to Chattanooga with an Epic Civil War theme, guest speaker renowned doco maker Ric Burns. Fares from $US2895. No doubt there will be plenty more on www.greatamericansteamboatcompany.com.
Still on cruising, vacationstogo.com reports that over the next 13 months seven ships will embark on maiden voyages for seven different cruise lines. Four are “new builds” and three refurbished and renamed. One newie is another riverboat “with the look of a traditional paddle wheeler”, the Queen of the Mississippi to be launched on August 11 by American Cruise Lines, and carrying just 150 passengers. The Norwegian Breakaway, to launch in April 2013, aims at 4000 passengers. How long will they take to disembark?
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