When my ninth grade teacher announced our required reading assignments for the year, Adventures of Huckleberry Fin by Mark Twain was first on the list. As a fifteen year old girl, I was not excited to read about the story of a teenage misfit who found himself floating on a raft down the Mississippi River with an escaping slave. However, I changed my mind once I opened the book and started reading. Because he was a former riverboat pilot on the Mississippi, Mark Twain had a way of making the river come to life. I was fascinated with the river and often wondered what it would be like to discover the beauty, history, culture, and excitement along one of the greatest inland waterways of America. Thanks to American Cruise Lines, I just might get the opportunity. American Cruise Lines operates the newest fleet of small ships in the industry and offers more than 30 unique itineraries along the inland waterways and rivers of the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and East Coast of the United States, from New England to Florida. Beginning in August 2012, the Queen of the Mississippi riverboat will make her debut and she is so popular, the first sailing is already sold out.
The Queen of the Mississippi is not just any ordinary boat. She will boast staterooms larger than any former Mississippi riverboat. She offers spacious private balconies and all of the amenities today’s cruisers expect, while maintaining the elegance and traditional Victorian appearance of classic Mississippi riverboats. With the option of cruising at significantly higher speeds, more itineraries are possible than ever before, with longer visits to the river towns. A number of unique 7, 10, and 14-day cruises are planned that take passengers along the winding waters of the Mississippi, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, Cumberland and Ohio Rivers. The “Mighty Miss” is the largest river in the United States, stretching over 2,300 miles. Along the river you will find cities and towns with influential histories. These establishments helped our country grow to a bustling nation. Guests will be transported back to a simpler time in the middle of America’s heartland as the sternwheeler churns away. Cruisers will discover the bayous and woodlands along the river’s shore. Much of this area remains unchanged since French fur traders first ventured into the area.
The seven night New Orleans to Memphis itinerary will appeal to a wide audience. History buffs can retrace footsteps of Civil War soldiers on the battlefields and visit the museums. Musicians will tap their toes to the blues in Memphis and jazz in New Orleans. Foodies will fancy the wide variety of culinary delights from Cajun to Creole. Architecture enthusiasts will marvel at perfectly preserved homes and buildings in Natchez where 1,000 of its historic structures are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Gardeners will be amazed by Oak Alley Plantation, commonly referred to as the Grande Dame of the Great River Road. A quarter-mile canopy of giant live oak trees, believed to be nearly 300 years old, forms an impressive avenue that leads you to this classic Greek-revival style antebellum home. Your souvenir photos will look like they are straight out of Home and Garden magazine.
If you are looking for a unique vacation experience that does not require a long flight outside of the United States and features the best in Southern hospitality, find your inner Huck Finn and consider a cruise on the Queen of the Mississippi.