Cruisin’ Down THE River . . .

For years, my wife and I had talked about taking a cruise on the Mississippi River and three years ago we finally did it. There are two or three companies offering river cruises, but we chose the Mississippi Queen and booked a 7-day cruise from  Memphis to New Orleans. We made that choice mostly because it’s a relatively new vessel and the reviews we read were generally very good.

We flew to Los Angeles and took the Southwest Chief to Chicago and, the next day, the City of New Orleans to Memphis.

Everything about the cruise was well organized and the boat itself was really quite impressive.

This photo of the boat was taken shortly we had tied up at Greenville, Mississippi.

The company made a big point of the fact that the paddle wheel is the only means of propulsion for this boat. There’s no backup should anything go wrong.

Here’s a closer look at the paddlewheel. Each “blade” of the wheel is made up of two 2” x 10” planks. At the start of our trip there was a stack of 30 or 40 of those boards on that small deck area should any of the boards on the paddlewheel need to be replaced. By the end of our journey, all of those those replacement boards had been used.

And here’s the reason: junk floating down the river getting caught up in the giant revolving wooden paddlewheel. Broken boards were replaced by the crew during the night or when we were tied up at one of the stops.

The cruise itself was relaxing and interesting. The cabins were on the small side, but fine. The food was excellent. The river? Well, you really have to be on it to appreciate just how impressive . . . how truly magnificent it really is. One or two of the stops were of marginal interest. Greenville, Mississippi, is a perfectly fine place to live, I suppose, but there’s not much there to be of interest to most visitors.

Bottom line: I gave the trip a B-minus.