I meant to get a report on the trip before this, but my mother has been ill--that's where my energy has been (she's getting better!). Lance Larsen's post in another thread prompted me to get this started, but I hope others will add to this.
Of course, as Riverlorian for the trip, my experience will be different from that of a passenger. But I thought the trip went very well. It is an honor to work for the Bernsteins. Captain Al can take any situation and make it work--and get a great story out of it, too!
Every effort was extended to make this trip what the guests wanted. For example, on day one, we were running on "river time"--a little too late to make our scheduled tour of the LST in Evansville, IN. But we had passengers who REALLY wanted to see it. Captain Al arranged with the folks on the LST for an early-morning tour the next day. We simply moved the schedule around a bit. When we grounded on a sand bar in the channel on the TN, the passengers had a great time. They disembarked on our motorized barge, met up with tour busses and continued on with a visit to Helen Keller's house as planned, ate dinner, and went to their hotel. Rather than miss Wilson Lock, Captain Al re-arranged the schedule again. He made a point of telling the guests what happened while they were off the boat, and did it in such a way that you feel you were there--and laughing your head off at the re-telling.
Of course, everyone would rather sleep on the boat--but when you can't, the Belle of Cincinnati offers a lot of room for people to stretch out. Some people thought there were too MANY activities--of course, you can opt out, and sit on the deck, or stretch out on a couch and nap! Sometimes, there were bus rides to the hotel for the night. Captain Al insists on good accommodations, and when you are in the middle of nowhere as we were, that might mean driving longer than you'd like--but for a good hotel, it might be necessary.

Our reunion with the Delta Queen was wonderful. There were MANY former DQ passengers on this trip, and I have to say, I did not hear any complaints. It was beautiful weather after the first day, and a very compatible crowd. We laughed a lot. What excitement there was as we first saw the Legendary Lady! Leah Ann and Randy were right there, and made every effort to make the experience go well.
I'd planned to say a thousand wonderful things about the new proprietors of the Delta Queen, but after reading Keith's words from the Great Steam-Up, I find he has said everything I wanted to say! Our vessel is in the right hands. Go visit the Delta Queen--she is still alive, and waiting for you!
Anyone else care to chime in on the trip? Thanks, Captain Al, for a great time!