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Excursion Steamboating

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Old 07-19-2006, 12:01 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Rock Island, Illinois mile 480 UMR
Posts: 3,865
Default Excursion Steamboating

Many of us recently had a most wonderful and congenial experience in Louisville on the occasion of the Tschiggfrie Tschow at the Howard Museum. In addition to that great presentation, we also rode the BELLE OF LOUISVILLE. Many of us managed to get 4 cruises in during our stay. While excursion steamboating consists of short trips in contrast to the overnight stays on the Queens, it certainly is an enjoyable, viable, vital, and AFFORDABLE way to get your steamboat fix. My first steamboat was an excursion, the AVALON. My addiction to the river was created by my 42 DQ overnight cruises. My steamboat working experience has been on the excursion boat NATCHEZ. So I've been a part of both steamboating worlds. For those of you anguishing over the recent developments with Majestic America Line, please consider these things: 1) While you can't experience a week-long steamboating adventure on our 3 excursion steamboats, you can do some creative planning and put together several trips which will make your journey to the boat worthwhile. 2) Excursion steamboating is what reached the masses in early 20th century America, not the overnight steamboating. What we have available to us non-millionaires is truly a continuation of a common American historical entity, a steamboat ride. 3) All 3 operating steamboats are 'open' and welcoming - the engine rooms are open and visits to the pilothouse can even be arranged from time to time. You get to see a steamboat in action. 4) These 3 boats are boats, not hotels/resorts, without pretention. 5) In case you missed it earlier, trips on these excursion boats, even including travel expenses to/from, are AFFORDABLE. Now, some details about putting together some trips: I and several others rode the BELLE 4 times, which included 3 totally different types of cruises. The Thursday evening sunset cruise went from 7-9 and was just that, a cooler trip with a chance to watch the sunset. Our two daytime trips were from 12-2(Sunday the trip is 2-4). And the nicest one of all was the Friday night Moonlight, from 8-11PM. I've been riding the AVALON/BELLE for 55 years and she's more beautiful each year. If you go to Louisville, of course there are other river attractions like the Howard Museum and the Falls of the Ohio Center to visit. The JULIA BELLE SWAIN operates on the beautiful Upper Mississippi out of LaCrosse Wisconsin. Most of her trips are now long lunch or dinner cruises, but she does offer several overnight trips to Winona Minnesota and Prairie du Chien Wisconsin. You stay in a land hotel overnight. Her operating territory is truly God's Country. A visit to the Murphy Library to peruse the 45.000 steamboat photos Ralph DuPae has collected is a must on a JBS trip. I must throw in the TWILIGHT, which is diesel, not steam, but built by a steamboatman Capt. Dennis Trone. The TWILIGHT runs 3 trips a week out of LeClaire Iowa(Quad Cities). She goes up to Dubuque and back. You stay at the new Grand Harbor hotel and get admission to the River Museum as part of your cruise. And finally, of course, the NATCHEZ. Even though she is not running her usual 3 a day 7 day a week schedule, you can catch her on multiple trips. She's doing 3 a day on Friday and Saturday. The two daytimes are narrated sightseeing trips and the evening cruise is a dinner cruise with the Dukes of Dixieland, best band in the city, performing. Fridays and Sundays she's doing the two daytime trips and I believe she has one trip a day on Wednesday and Thursday. Anyway, to sum up, please don't leave steamboating completely if you can't ride the Queens anymore - there's still a wonderful convivial steamboating fraternity out there for you to enjoy: the BELLE, JBS, and NATCHEZ.
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