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'Steamboating: 'Cruises,' 'Trips,' Excursions.'

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Old 04-06-2007, 05:07 PM
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A.
Posts: 1,573
Default 'Steamboating: 'Cruises,' 'Trips,' Excursions.'

Steamboating colleagues:
Hate to start a new thread but the interesting dialogue Keith Norrington, Lil Smith kicked off is worth it. Both are correct in their memories and documentation of how the terminology changed over the years. Again, I never heard anything but 'trip' when it came to travels on steamboats. Old family members on the big steam towboats used the term 'coal trip,' or 'delivery trip.' My grandmother always used the term 'trip' referencing trips on old GREENE LINE packets. Language is a strange, plastic thing at times with terms being interchanged according to the situation or need. No doubt the old term 'trip' applied to the scheduled steamboat packet or night boat service between major cities. As Lil knows, when I was a kid around the old GREENE LINE STEAMERS, the old timers [Or 'old heads' in steamboat lingo] used the term 'trip.'

The interview of Capt. Mary B. Greene by Mr. Espy in the cabin of the GORDON C. GREENE, 1948, has her tell of the sidewheel GREENLAND going to the St. Louis World's Fair, 1904 from Pittsburgh. She uses the term 'trip' frequently but in one case the term "pleasure cruise" which it was outside of usual scheduled packet service. This was a pivotal time and from then on the Greene family saw the potential for tourist pleasure cruises.

Brochures for the Str. BETSY ANN in the 1920s uses the term 'cruise' once with 'trip' through the ad. 'Excursion' was also a frequent term of the day on steamboats and railroads for pleasure. In 1924, the L&C LINE introduced the then new big CINCINNATI with fancy folders and brochures advertising 'Spring Cruise, 1924.' Earlier L&C LINE ads for the CINCINNATI and veteran QUEEN CITY, apply the term 'trips.' Keith & Judy know more about EAGLE PACKET CO. ads and brochures than I do for the GOLDEN EAGLE.

GREENE LINE advertised in the first 1948 brochure for the DELTA QUEEN, "LUXURY RIVER CRUISES, S.S. DELTA QUEEN." Times had changed and Capt. Tom and Capt. Mary B. Greene were thinking and planning to the new era. Capt. Tom Greene applied his favorite term "Steamboatiana" in different ways in different situations. The first brochure for the GORDON C. GREENE here states, "A Modern 'Mark Twain' Steamer,'" "Delicious Southern Cooking," "The Trip of a Lifetime," Yes, the term 'cruise' appears twice. Along with, "The Str. GORDON C. GREENE is manned by a crew of seventy persons among whom are Capt. Mary B. Greene, a Cruise Director and a Social Hostess to look after the entertainment welfare of the passengers." The new Texas in this brochure was in the future and for all purposes it was the CAPE GIRARDEAU with just a new name painted on.

As time moved on, and the tourist potential was realized, steamboat companies linked to then emerging 'Tourist offices' [i.e. Travel angencies.], major banking institutions and railroad ticket offices for connections between 'rail and boat.' In time the GREENE LINE signed contracts with the venerable CARTAN TRAVEL CO., AMERICAN EXPRESS, among others, for 'rail, bus, and later, air connections.' The term 'cruises' emerged at that time for marketing. For years the DELTA QUEEN was posted right there on pages in NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC next to those for giant, major steamship lines. At times travel agents have taken it on the cheek in their work with the DELTA QUEEN boats from certain quarters. Can't deny the work they do and such agents don't get free trips for nothing--if at all. Where the complaint of 'free trips for travel agents' started I have no idea. Several I know decided if they 'can't lick them, then join 'em.' Today direct web sites with ORBITZ, EXPEDIA, AAA TRAVEL etc, along with many 'home based agents' still feed a large precentage of much-needed bookings to boats, ships, resorts etc.

I have no idea what I've said here, but in essence Keith and Lil and right on and in tandem with their comments.
Well, what do I know?

R. Dale Flick
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