It's like a trip back in time, aboard a paddle wheel river boat, calliope music playing as you are headed down the Mississippi from Memphis to New Orleans. My Aunt and Uncle, Beverly and Bill Matarese recently got to take this romantic Mississippi river journey through history aboard the American Queen Riverboat on the Mississippi River. I asked them to participate in A Go See It People Interview, to share their experience and photos!
Because they are retirees, with plenty of time, Bev and Bill were able to make a road trip from New England to New Orleans. They enjoyed the Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park along both legs of their trip. when they arrived in New Orleans, they left their car at a stay and park hotel and rented a car to drive to the embarkation port of Memphis, where they met the American Queen. Their cruise fare included a pre-cruise night at a Memphis hotel, where they met the other folks raveling on their cruise..
The ports of call for this cruise were Greenville, Vicksburg, Natchez, Baton Rouge, St Francesville, and Nottoway Plantation. Embarking in Memphis and ending in New Orleans. Everywhere along their journey they had the opportunity to learn about US history.
In Greenville, they toured a museum remembering the Great Flood of April 1927, when the whole town was under water for 3 months.
In Vicksburg, there was a tour of the Civil War battlefields in Vicksburg, that played a pivotal role in the control of the Mississippi River.
In Natchez, which Bev thought was one of the prettiest towns on the cruise, they toured the William Johnson House, where they learned the interesting history of one of the few freed black men in the pre Civil War south.
Next in Baton Rouge, they had a city tour where they learned all about the antics of infamous Baton Rouge Governor Huey Long.
St Francisville included a tour that took them to the Myrtle Plantation and through Royal Street to see many more historic homes.
In Nottoway, the Cajun Swamp tour was offered as well as a chance to visit White Castle, a finely restored plantation.
Q: Why did you want to take this trip?
A: "I’ve always wanted to do this cruise but thought it was expensive. By booking over a year in advance and taking an inside cabin it became affordable and was well worth the money. It was so nice to river cruise in the US. Also any one who had done it (before) could only rave about it. My own sister Edwina said it was the best trip she ever did and she has traveled a lot."
Q. What surprised you about this place? What was your "don't miss it" attraction?
A. "I didn’t realize how complete the cruise would be. Every thing was arranged top shelf. The only problem was deciding what to do. Wish we could do everything. Don’t miss...the calliope playing (on board) as we left port. The other (don't miss attractions) were the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis and the World War II Museum in New Orleans.
Although, Bev, an experienced ocean cruiser, was concerned about the higher prices of a river cruise, with a river cruise, she discovered all of your food, drinks, AND excursions are included in the price of the cruise. This is a nice feature that allows cruisers to select from several tours offered each day. As Bev noticed, it can be tough to decide which tour to do, since all of them are good options!
Q. What tips would you give for someone who wants to take this cruise? Anything special you should pack? Anything you’d do differently?
A. "I took too much clothes as there was a washer and dryer on the boat including Tide Pods! I might have gone earlier in the season as it was very hot on the road trip (to New Orleans), but it was warmer the usual. ...going early caused the Mississippi to be swollen (in places) and (we) couldn’t always dock where we wanted."
Once in New Orleans, they disembarked and used the Hop On Hop Off bus to explore the French Quarter.
Beverly and Bill are active retirees who split time between Maine and Massachusetts. wWhen they aren't traveling, they enjoy riding their motorcycle, or their motorboat, and spending time with their 3 grandkids.
Written by: K Klofft Photos: B Matarese