Legendary Queen of the Mississippi


For those of us who didn't grow up on the banks of the Mississippi, our introduction to its boats was Davy Crockett. You remember Davy…and the keelboat races with Mike Fink, and the river pirates, and all the other comic book stories that turned into books and movies and a merchandise business that surpassed 42 billion.

The sometimes fictitious accounts of this legendary American folk hero were an introduction to what is arguably the nation's greatest river, stretching from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

Now, fast forward.

On Saturday, another legend arrived on the Mississippi, in the form of a riverboat unlike anything Davy and Mike could have imagined. If the Queen of the Mississippi isn't a legend, she will become one, as the vessel that changed river boating as we know it. She is a 21st-century paddlewheeler with all the modern amenities, taking her passengers back 75 to 100 years, a time warp in luxury.

On one hand, the Queen of the Mississippi passengers currently on the inaugural, 8-day return trip from New Orleans are on a ship that looks, from the outside, that it might have been in Mississippi waters a century ago. On the inside, the flagship of the American Cruise Lines fleet has "hotel-room" staterooms — 300 square feet or more, private balconies with sliding doors, full bathrooms just like the hotels have, and the opportunity to dine in private whenever they want.

On one hand, on-board educational events and themed entertainment will take them back to the way it was, and seeing historical plantations and mansions and landmarks. On the other hand, they can step off the boat and see Baton Rouge, New Orleans and cities of the south the way they are today.

The first paddlewheeler built for the mighty river in two decades, Queen of the Mississippi takes its people on a trip that's a merging of centuries on the Mississippi, the way it was and the way it is. Davy and Mike and their men would be proud…although they might have trouble getting their heads around WiFi.

Carnival Fascination
5 nights
November 5, 2012
Jacksonville (return): Half Moon Cay, Nassau
Inside: $269
Cost per day: $53 $53

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