Yes, US River Cruises Are a Thing...That You Should Do ASAP
Indulge us for a moment: Go to Spotify, find Credence Clearwater Revival's "Proud Mary", hit play -- and tell us you don't want to hop a good old-fashioned American steamboat right now. And not for a two-hour dinner cruise, either. For the most escapist version of rollin' on the river -- lush landscapes, pretty port towns, colorful characters and all -- you'll want to carve out at least a few days, whether you're plying the Mississippi, Tennessee, Ohio, Snake or Columbia River.
And with the shiny new American Duchess having just joined its award-winning fleet, American Queen Steamboat Company has you covered cross country. Here, six more reasons to embrace your inner Huck Finn -- that is, if Huck had a thing for high thread-count linens, 24-hour room service, daily expert lectures and nightly theater revues.
You'll be close to home, but feel a world away
Cross long-haul flights and jet lag recovery off your vacation to-do list. An American river cruise often involves no more than a quick flight -- or even easier, a drive directly to the port. But don't let the accessibility fool you: These ports often double as portals to other centuries, cultures, ecosystems -- or all of the above, as on the Lewis and Clark Trail through the native lands and outsized wilderness of the Pacific Northwest.
You can luxuriate and learn
This isn't your average hang-by-the-pool-and-scroll-through-Facebook vacation, thanks largely to your resident "riverlorian." This local expert, who comes standard with any American Queen Steamboat Company cruise, will school you (often over cocktails) on the lay of the land -- and water -- you're visiting. So if you're cruising to, say, Vicksburg, you'll hear about the eponymous battle that took place there, when Union forces seized control of the Mississippi.
Meanwhile, in Missouri, might your riverlorian sport a wily walrus mustache à la Mark Twain? Though we can't make any promises, we'd be willing to bet our best monocle on it. Point is, wherever you go, a fabulous, floating classroom goes with you -- but of course, anything from a spa appointment to a nap counts as a perfectly valid reason to ditch.
You can pick a theme -- and literally go with it
Do you fancy sippin' whiskey neat (or on the rocks, no judgment) while making your way through Kentucky's bourbon country? Or rockin' around the clock to tunes from the '50s and '60s (provided no one steps on your blue suede shoes)? Or delving into Antebellum history (complete with moss-draped, oak-studded estates)? There's a cruise for that -- and 10 other pursuits, from the equestrian to the literary -- on the American Queen Steamboat Company theme menu.
You'll keep that wallet shut
An upscale hotel stay before your cruise? Check. Unlimited Wi-Fi? Check. Wine and beer with dinner? Check. Hop-on, hop-off tours in every port city? Check. Yes, you'll get a boatload of bonuses at no extra charge on any American Queen Steamboat Company cruise. In fact, one of the few places you'll be tempted to spend a bit more is the spa -- gotta work out the knots after all the dipping you'll be doing on the engine room bar's dance floor.
You'll eat like a ... Queen
If you're a luxe-leaning locavore, rejoice. Picture cornmeal-encrusted Mississippi catfish with Brussels sprout slaw, smashed fingerling potato rissole and caper-raisin sauce, or deep-fried gulf oysters with yellow squash hushpuppies and remoulade; or -- one of the most lore-loaded dishes on any menu -- Kentucky Burgoo: a centuries-old meat and veggie stew of mysterious local origin, and the centerpiece of many a Kentucky festival.
Of course, the menu morphs a bit in the Pacific Northwest, where local scene stealers include golden-brown Dungeness crab fritters with creamy aioli and lemon; pan-seared king salmon with lobster risotto, honey-glazed carrots and citrus beurre blanc; and griddle-cooked, quinoa-studded potato latkes with Washington apple sauce.
You'll be saying zip, zip hooray!
Outdoor activities abound on these cruises, from the bike rides you can take along scenic Southern levees to the adrenaline-fueled fun you can have in the Pacific Northwest. In fact, one of the best things you can do is to downsize from the American Empress to a kayak, then carve your way through the scenic waterways of the Snake and Columbia Rivers.
Have the need for speed? Consider zip-lining through the soaring resident birch and oak trees -- or jet boating across North America's deepest gorge (even deeper than the Grand Canyon, whoa).
Ready to go? Call 888-749-5286 and mention Travelzoo to save up to $2000 on spring and summer sailings.