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the mighty mississippi
Luxury cruising through Americaâ€™s Heartland
Editor’s letter Ever since I first discovered you could take a river cruise on a paddle steamer along the Mississippi, I’ve been longing to try this truly unique holiday for myself. I can’t think of any better way to really discover everything this fascinating region has to offer. Rich in history and culture, it would, I’m sure, be a holiday you’d remember always. I’m also keen on the idea of taking a river cruise through the Pacific Northwest, with its extraordinary scenery. Of course, the advantage of a cruise on riverboat American Queen is that it’s also incredibly luxurious, so you can enjoy the tapestry of your ever-changing surroundings in complete comfort. Or as writer Nick Dalton puts it: “one mesmerising experience after another, modern-day luxury in a world of Victorian wonderment.” We’ve put this guide together for American Queen to help you discover the amazing aspects of river cruising in the US. Enjoy.
Liz Jarvis, Editor firstname.lastname@example.org Follow us @Cruisemag Like us facebook.com/cruiseinternational Visit us cruise-international.com
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Hot sp t o
The Mississippi River is the world’s fourth longest river, rising in northern Minnesota and meandering slowly southwards for 2,530 miles to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. The Mississippi River Valley is one of the most fertile regions of the United States, and it’s here you can best experience the history, heritage and culture of America’s Heartland on a cruise. Voyage aboard a genuine paddlewheel steamboat and you can still imagine times gone by as you visit historic ports of call including New Orleans, Nashville and Pittsburgh. >> Turn to page 6 to read about a Mississippi river cruise
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october / nov ember 2013 |
ELEGANT USA RIVER CRUISING
Valuable Inclusions, Scenery and History Await
A M E R I CA N E M P R E S S COLUMBIA & SNAKE RIVER VOYAGES – From Portland’s lovely International Rose Test Garden to the hallowed artifacts on the Nez Perce Native American Reservation, America’s pristine Pacific Northwest comes to life as you follow in the footsteps of Lewis & Clark and sample the fruits of fertile region’s orchards and vineyards.
A M E R I CA N Q U E E N American Empress
LOWER MISSISSIPPI RIVER VOYAGES – Travel from carefree New Orleans to vibrant Memphis on the river of legends. The sweet fragrance of magnolia blossoms envelops picturesque plantations and gardens of the Old South. Learn of this region’s early settlers and the traditions that have endured the test of time. UPPER MISSISSIPPI RIVER VOYAGES – The upper reaches of the Mississippi River from St. Louis, the Gateway to the West, to the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul reveals the beauty of America’s Heartland and fuels your sense of discovery and adventure with captivating ports like Mark Twain’s hometown of Hannibal, Missouri.
OHIO & TENNESSEE RIVER VOYAGES – Discover America’s cultural quilt in the cities and towns of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers. Experience Pittsburgh, the City of Bridges, brimming with stories of early-American industry. Visit Native American sites, Civil War battlefields, quaint main streets and friendly smiles, this region will welcome you with open arms and enlighten you with its storied past.
2-FOR-1 ON 2014 RIVER CRUISES* call or email Light Blue Travel for this outstanding offer! mention offer code: cpl 2014 aeaq 2-FOR-1
Reservations: 01223 568904 Email: email@example.com Website: www.lightbluetravel.co.uk * Offer expires December 21, 2013 and is valid on new bookings only. Not valid on Group bookings and may not be combined with other offers. The 2-for-1 offer means first passenger in cabin pays full cruise fare and second passenger pays no cruise fare. Cruise fare does not include taxes, port charges, insurance, gratuities, or airfare. Only cabin categories of C, D, E, F, G, H, and I are available for this offer and only on American Queen February and March 2014 voyage dates. Only cabin categories of C, D, and E are available for this offer and only on American Empress April or May 2014 voyage dates. Additional terms and conditions may apply – call for details.
American Queen Ships Events Destinations l
Explore the Pacific Northwest
Mark Twain’s books The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer depicted life on the Mississippi – and foodies will be delighted to hear his favourite dishes are celebrated with The Captain’s Menu, served on board American Queen. The menu was created by celebrated chef Regina Charboneau, and features delicious Southern delicacies including cornbread, hot biscuits and fried chicken, as well as regional specialities including barbecue, caramel cake, gooey buttercake and fried ravioli.
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If you were inspired by Sir Trevor McDonald’s recent TV documentary on the Mighty Mississippi to take your own trip along the famous river, then American Queen has a 10-day journey along the Lower Mississippi departing in March 2014, calling at New Orleans, Louisiana; Oak Alley, Louisiana; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; St Francisville, Louisiana; Natchez, Mississippi; Vicksburg, Mississippi; Helena, Arkansas; Memphis, Tennessee. Prices start at £1,888 pp, based on double occupancy.
photo: © istock/sharply_done * prices correct at time of going to press
Lewis and Clark were the first explorers to uncover the Pacific Northwest, and now you can retrace their expedition, “Corps of Discovery”, on a Magnificent Pacific Northwest river cruise on board American Queen’s sister ship, American Empress. Nine-day journeys on the Columbia and Snake rivers depart in April 2014, calling at Portland, Oregon; Astoria, Oregon; Stevenson, Washington; The Dalles, Oregan; Sacajawea State Park, Washington; Clarkston, Washington. Prices start at £2,530pp, based on two people sharing.
photo: ÂŠ american queen
Above: The American Queen was designed to echo the paddle steamers of the 19th century 6
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the mississippi river
e h t river n o A cruise on The Mississippi recreates the unique charm of a bygone era, discovers Nick Dalton
’m standing on the top deck of American Queen and a very low railroad bridge is getting nearer by the moment. The paddle steamer’s giant twin smokestacks start to keel over, until they are horizontal. Even so, the bridge sweeps by close enough so that if I’d been juggling, my act would have come to a premature end. This is river cruising, but with a difference. Not only is the vessel one of a kind, the river is too. The Mississippi, the fourth longest river in the world, cuts through the United States from New Orleans, on the Gulf of Mexico, almost all the way to Canada. On a week’s voyage from Memphis, America’s music capital in the southern heartland of Tennessee, up to St Louis in Missouri, I’m mesmerised by the scenery or, in many cases, the lack of it. The river is a good mile wide in places, lined with low, jungle-like forests, interspersed with sandbanks, little beaches, islands (all immortalised in Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer) and very little civilisation. The Mississippi just keeps rolling along, big and muddy, but it rolls over towns built on its banks as it changes course relentlessly. Travelling on board American Queen is one mesmerising experience after another, modern-day luxury in a world of Victorian wonderment. It’s the biggest and grandest paddlewheel steamer afloat, and perhaps the finest ever built. It looks as though it’s from another century and it is, but only just – it was built in 1995, by aficionados, people who loved the opulent style of travel that was at its height in the 1870s. My room is like something from a boutique Victorian hotel, with richly-patterned wallpapers, freestanding antique writing desk and bathroom with tiled shower. The rest of the boat matches. The J.M. White dining room pays homage to that of a grand steamboat of the same name from almost 150 years ago, with chandeliers and potted palms. It’s overlooked by the Mark Twain Lounge with its gentlemen’s club ambiance, dark and calm, but with free coffee and huge freshly-baked cookies. At the bow is the less formal Front Porch Café, opening on to the deck where I often sit and view the approaching scenery from one of the gleaming white rocking chairs. I also spend a lot of time at the stern, hypnotised by the huge, red paddle wheel as it churns through the waters. This isn’t for show; it’s what drives American Queen, the wooden blades powered by piston engines salvaged from a 1932 vessel. The Engine Room bar, 8 dark and sophisticated in a Western movie sort of cru ise -i n t er nat iona l .com
Travelling on board American Queen is one mesmerising experience after another, modern-day luxury in a world of Victorian wonderment
*price includes wine with dinner, excursions, transfers, one night pre-cruise stay and flights photos: © Missouri Division of Tourism/lucy branyan/american queen/Mississippi Development Authority/Memphis Tourism
Clockwise from left: dance the night away in Beale Street’s B.B. King’s Blues Club; take a mural tour in Cape Girardeau; experience nature’s beauty in fall colors; the Grand Staircase Atrium on board; winter greens with andouille vinaigrette; Natchez-Vidalia Mississippi River Bridge; the Grand Saloon showroom
| oc tober / nov ember 2013
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the mississippi river way, sits in front of the wheel, and has illuminated night-time views of the thrashing action. There’s even a small outdoor seating area where I sometimes sit with a glass of bourbon, entranced by the noise and the spray. Food comes high on American Queen’s list of attractions. Dinners combine American staples – steaks, Caesar salad – with adventurous southern cooking like sautéed red snapper Creole, crispy fried frogs’ legs with okra-tomato chutney, New Orleans-style barbecue escargot and crawfish bisque. There’s decent wine included too, changing daily. Lunches are big buffet affairs in the dining room, although I preferred the slimmed-down options in the Front Porch Café, eaten on deck. There’s no shortage of food 24 hours a day – free ice cream, cookies and cakes in the café, and free room service. Should you feel the need to work it off there’s a neat little top-deck gym, and an open-air pool big enough for a splash. But an American Queen cruise isn’t just about the boat. There are shore excursions included at every stop, hop-on hop-off tours on gaily-painted coaches that follow the boat. On the stretch from New Orleans to Memphis there are calls at the city of Baton Rouge, Vicksburg – with its Civil War battlefields – and Natchez, a place of elegant southern style. Other stops are less romantic but have the fascination of small-town America. First is New Madrid in Missouri. In Memphis see There’s a museum detailing the town’s mark in history. Elvis Presley’s Graceland home, Here, in 1812, was what is still the biggest earthquake the frenetic Beale to hit the US outside the west coast, an eight on the Street nightlife Richter scale that set the and the South river flowing backwards. Main Arts District Next is Cape Girardeau, where we are greeted by a Dixieland jazz band and sightseers – the American Queen makes everyone stop and stare. The best port of call is Chester, Illinois, where Popeye was created and pays homage to the sailor man with statues, wall paintings and a museum in the Opera House where E.C Segar drew his characters while working as a projectionist in silent movies. Memphis – where American Queen docks at the specially built £23 million Beale Street Landing – is usually either a start or finish point but is well worth several nights, to visit Elvis Presley’s Graceland home, the Stax soul museum, the frenetic Beale Street nightlife area where you’ll find a host of live music venues, and the hip South Main Arts District. St Louis, too, is a destination – we moor beneath the 630ft Gateway Arch, its stainless steel skin glinting in the sun. Back on board there’s plenty more to enjoy. There are talks on the river’s history, a banjo player at the deck bar’s sundown session, a bluegrass band, and songs in the grandiose theatre. But I retire to the Engine Room bar with a cocktail and watch the wheel spinning us through the warm Mississippi night.
GETTING THERE An 9-day cruise on American Queen starts at £2,845pp, including flights and transfers. For more info go to Light Blue Travel visit lightbluetravel.co.uk or call 01223 568904.
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