Queen of the Mississippi
On our recent cruise down the Mississippi River aboard American Cruise Lines’ paddlewheeler Queen of the Mississippi, my wife, Catharine, and I started in Memphis and ended in New Orleans.
In between came stops in ports as large as Baton Rouge, as small as St. Francisville (Louisiana) and as medium-sized as Natchez, Mississippi. We also stopped at several lovely antebellum plantations that illustrated the wealth of the region before the Civil War, built on cotton, sugar and the slaves who worked the fields or served the plantation owners and their families in their homes.
The most striking of the plantations, to me, is called Oak Alley, which we visited the last full day of the cruise before reaching New Orleans. It’s on the west (Louisiana) bank of the Mississippi, where a… Continue reading
Along with the LSU Fighting Tigers, Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana, seems obsessed with Huey Long.
LSU, whose football stadium holds 92,450 people and whose mascot, Mike, is a real 750-pound tiger who lives in a $3 million enclosure until it’s time to come out to the games and roar, is clearly number one in local hearts, but Huey Long — the long dead ex-governor and senator, assassinated some 80 years ago– must be number two.
Long, who gave himself the nickname “Kingfish,” is the subject of sizable exhibits both at the Capitol Park Museum (part of the Louisiana State Museum system) and at the Old State Capitol building, an architectural gem — it resembles a castle — that Long hated and where he was once impeached.
Long hated it so much that… Continue reading
On my recent American Cruise Lines’ voyage down the Mississippi aboard the paddlewheeler Queen of the Mississippi, we left the state of Mississippi behind about halfway through the week. Our new destination was Louisiana, on the western side of the river, making our first stop in a very inviting looking town called St. Francisville, which, despite a pouring rain that morning, proved one of the most interesting ports on the Mississippi.
St. Francisville is actually the second oldest incorporated town in Louisiana, with Spanish and British roots rather than French, as you find farther south in the state. Nearly 150 structures compose its National Register Historic District, recalling the world of the antebellum South. The artist and naturalist John James Audobon did a number of his famous bird drawings here.
It… Continue reading
I’d like to be able to convince you that the life of a travel writer aboard a cruise ship sailing down the Mississippi for a week was one of arduous labor, a dawn-to-midnight whirl of interviews, note-taking, picture-making, fervid sightseeing, cabin inspections, food critiques, and long hours spent at the computer chronicling it all.
And yes, that does describe many cruises I’ve taken professionally. But on this cruise, American Cruise Lines’ Queen of the Mississippi voyage down the lower Mississippi from Memphis to New Orleans, I took a different tack. I relaxed and enjoyed myself much as if I weren’t working at all.
Maybe it was being in the South, where the pace of life seems a little slower than in New York. Maybe it was the languid heat that proved such… Continue reading
On my recent cruise down the lower Mississippi aboard American Cruise Lines’ Queen of the Mississippi — built to resemble an old-fashioned paddlewheeler — “riverlorian” (river lore expert) Mike Jennings summed up the feelings of those who live along America’s mightiest (and muddiest?) river: “We’ve got mud in our blood.”
Jennings, who lives in Vicksburg, Mississippi, was on board to give passengers some historical and ecological perspectives on the river we were cruising down at 13 miles per hour. Over the course of a week, we would cover nearly 650 of the Mississippi’s total length of 2,350 miles, as we journeyed between Memphis and New Orleans. (The lower Mississippi actually starts somewhat farther north in Cairo, Illinois.)
The river meanders so much, Jennings said, that sometimes we would actually be traveling north despite our… Continue reading
River cruising is the hottest trend in the cruise world right now, and not just in Europe. It’s also thriving right here in the United States — and the aptly named American Cruise Lines (ACL) is leading the
ACL has ships cruising the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest, the Hudson River in upstate New York, the Intracoastal Waterway in the Southeastern U.S., and many more.
But my wife, Catharine, and I were most intrigued by ACL’s cruise down the lower Mississippi — from Memphis to New Orleans — partly because it was an area of the country we hadn’t explored as much as some others, and partly because the ship, the Queen of the Mississippi, was built in the style of an old-fashioned paddle wheeler, allowing us to return to Mark… Continue reading