Morning, Steamboating colleagues:
Just returned yesterday PM from nearly the full month in France from north to south, east to west by car, high speed TVG train [over 200 plus mph] along with W.W. II battle landing sites and American Cemetery in Normandy, Paris, Loire Valley, Carcassonne, Caen, Bayeux, Mediterranean coat . One great trip following my previous kidney surgery that laid me low. With me nursing the 'ouchies' in September, I was unable to attend the annual meeting of S&D in Marietta, Ohio. I filed my financial report being read by S&D Board of Governor chairman Lee Woodruff. So much for that.

I don't know much about "Just curious" as appearing on one of the upper threads here but I did see, visit, tour more than a few of the new style European cruise boats on the rivers and canals there from Germany down through France. Though not making a cruise on them, I was given permission to come aboard and look them over as no passengers aboard with them working on 'turn around' day, At the French city of Avigon on the Rhone River, there were no less than two to three big cruise boats in there daily. Though 'different' in design than what we know here, make no mistake--these boats are not only bigger than you think but beautifully designed, appointed. They are a reality here to stay. More than a few lines operate in France: VIKING RIVER, UNIWORLD, AVON etc. with most to all boats designed, built, engineered in Germany. No question in my mind they are efficient and economical to operate.

Just "walking" several boats there drew my attention to their very un-Mississippi River 'steamboat' design with rather high 'ship bows' with no swinging stages and numerjous capstans, docking equipment. All passengers, equipment, supplies on and off by gangway doors port and starboard with a usual/customary passenger reception/purser offices etc. midships. As mentioned on this site these boats designed to dock along river quays and landings only--not head bow in for landings with swinging stages similar to here. VIKING RIVER better look again, think long and hard over their designs for our rivers here. Bridges are generally older, lower with many arches there causing more than a few dealayed or canceled cruises when rivers are high. Cabins are more than ample with grand stair cases, dinning rooms, lounges etc. along with large, open top decks. The officer on one VIKING RIVER boat was effusive to me in English, "You do know were are coming to the United States on your rivers there." I held my tongue.

One design 'curiosity' catching my attention was seeing cabins built on the lower hull with ports/windows just above the waterline. On one large passenger vessel I also noted hull pipe openings along the side with water frequently jetting out and into the river. I wondered what that 'water' was but didn't ask No doubt this and the cabins low in the outside hulls two glaring 'NO, NO' I think our U.S. Coast Guard and other officials will take a careful look at. The VIKING officer also mentioned, "You know our boats will be built and crewed in and by Americans." One couple on the VIKING boat talked with me on the quay saying, "The food aboard is wonderful but we wonder how they'll do with all American crews back home." Well, again, what do I know?

R. Dale Flick
Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River, Cincinnati