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Paddle steamer cruises return to the Mississippi

13th April 2012

Rolling on America’s most iconic river is set for an upsurge, as new paddle boats are launched

River cruising is set to return to the Mississippi River this year. Cruises have been virtually non-existent since 2008 when the river was beset with flooding, an oil spill, and two lines operating on the river went bust.

This year, two new ships will come into service on the mighty Mississippi, the first for 15 years. The Great American Steamboat Company announced this week that construction has started on a 150-passenger paddlewheel ship. This is in addition to its ‘American Queen’ paddleboat, which carries up to 436 passengers and sails from New Orleans.

American Cruise Lines’ new vessel, the ‘Queen of the Mississippi,’ will cruise from Memphis, Tennessee from August and will carry 150 passengers. The upsurge in Mississippi cruising was kick-started last year by Blount Small Ship Adventures, which ran three departures on the 96-passenger ‘Grand Caribe.’

The golden age of Mississippi steamboats (around 1830 to 1870) is being recreated and updated for the 21st century. Victorian-style riverboats plying the Mississippi this year will come complete with large balconies, wi-fi in every stateroom and satellite TVs.

The Mississippi River, the biggest river system in North America, runs 2,530 miles (4,070 km) through ten states from Minnesota to its delta in the Gulf of Mexico.

American Cruise Lines’ Chief Executive Charles Robertson describes the allure of the Mississippi River: “The culture and tradition is woven through the American fabric.”

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