Queen of the Mississippi, August 2014


A one-week cruise from St. Louis, MO up the Mississippi River to St. Paul, MN. -- At least that was our plan. But Ol' Man River had another. Two weeks before our departure, the Upper Mississippi was flooding. The water level has returned to normal, but the channel hasn't. The flooding conditions cause the channel to shift and sometimes it becomes blocked until dredges can be dispatched to clear a channel to a depth of at least nine feet.

On Monday evening, we learned that the river was closed north of La Crosse, WI. Dredging had begun but there was no estimate when it would be completed. So, rather than going on to Davenport as planned, we stopped in Burlington, IA, giving us something to do and the dredges more time to clear the river.

On Thursday morning the river was clear all the way to La Crosse with a good chance of it opening all the way to St. Paul. That evening, however, we learned that the river ahead of us was once again closed, this time because a 9-barge tow had gone aground 3 miles north of Guttenberg, IA. In the process of ungrounding the barges the channel was once again blocked and would not reopen in time for us to make it to St. Paul.

So, Friday we returned to Dubuque and took busses to St. Paul for our flights home.

Theses images are also presented in a video travelog.

This is Flickr collection 72157646433793346.

  • St. Louis, MO : Today is the end of the Cincinnati to St. Louis cruise and the start of the St. Louis to St. Paul cruise. I and 16 other passengers from the first cruise are continuing to St. Paul.

    While 100 passengers got off and another 130 passengers got on, I walked the full extent of the Gateway Mall in St. Louis, an open green space one block wide and twenty blocks long running along Market Street from the Gateway Arch to Union Station.

    At 1:30pm we left for an overnight run toward Hannibal, MO.

    Theses images are also presented in a video travelog.

  • Hannibal, MO : The pride of Hannibal is the Rockcliffe Mansion. The stroll through town with "Mark Twain" was both entertaining and enlightening. Throughout the stay I felt the distinction between Sam Clemens and the characters of Mark Twain often blurred into one and the same.

    After the afternoon in Hannibal we sailed north toward Davenport. Our departure was delayed a few hours waiting for the return of an injured crew member to the ship.

    Theses images are also presented in a video travelog.

  • Up the Mississippi : Today we were supposed to continue sailing up the Mississippi to arrive in Davenport, IA at 5am, tomorrow, but at 4pm this afternoon we docked at Burlington, IA. Now that the waters had returned to normal levels after the near-record flooding in early July, barges were finding the channel blocked by sand that had silted in during the high water.

    The river was closed above Dubuque until dredging would be able to clear the channel. By stopping today in Burlington, we sacrificed a stop in either La Cross, WI or Red Wing, MN but we gave the Corps of Engineers more time to clear the channel.

    Purely from a sightseeing perspective, this was not a good plan. After seeing both Burlington and Dubuque, the general consensus among the passengers was that a second day in Dubuque would have been better than the half day spent in Burlington.

    With 20-20 hindsight, the decision was even worse still. Had we pushed on to Davenport and Dubuque on schedule, the river to La Cross would have been open Wednesday afternoon. (It was closed again Thursday afternoon by another incident, which ultimately blocked our way to La Crosse and forced us to terminate in Dubuque.)

    Theses images are also presented in a video travelog.

  • Burlington, IA : After a quiet sunrise, the morning in Burlington was spent exploring the Heritage Hill section of the town, first by bus and then on foot.

    In the afternoon, we continued north toward Davenport. I said earlier that a second day in Dubuque would have been better than the half-day here. In fact, I took as many pictures here as I did in Dubuque. However, these pictures pretty much cover Burlington, whereas the pictures from Dubuque do not do it justice.

    Theses images are also presented in a video travelog.

  • Davenport, IA : The sponsored excursions were a visit to the John Deere Pavilion in Moline, IL or a visit to Fort Madison. I went to the John Deere Pavilion. The town and neighborhood around the landing also afforded a pleasant opportunity for walking.

    At noon, we continued northward toward Dubuque.

    Theses images are also presented in a video travelog.

  • Dubuque, IA : Today, we spent the morning in Dubuque. It is a nice, clean city and a four-hour stay just doesn't do it justice.

    The whole morning was on foot: First a run into town to mail a package (I couldn't mail the package in Burlington because the Post Office was flooded.) , then a guided stroll along Dubuque's Riverwalk, and then free time to just sample the extensive offerings of the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium.

    This afternoon, we continued north toward La Crosse, WI, but we were forced to stop at Lock #10 in Guttenberg, IA, because a 9-barge tow had run aground and was blocking the channel just north of us.

    Theses images are also presented in a video travelog.

  • Dam 10 to Minneapolis, MN : After the barges were cleared, the Corps of Engineers surveyed the damage to the channel and declared the river to be impassible. So, we returned to Dubuque and, from there, we took busses to Minneapolis to catch our flights home.

    It's a five hour bus ride to Minneapolis from Dubuque, so everyone was given the option stay the night in the Crowne Plaza in Minneapolis rather than leave Dubuque as early as 4:30 am to catch their flights home. Nice!

    Theses images are also presented in a video travelog.

  • Minneapolis, MN : I spent a peaceful night in the Crowne Plaza Hotel by the airport. My flight was delayed two hours because of bad weather in Atlanta, but I finally got home without further delays.

    Theses images are also presented in a video travelog.

  • Queen of the Mississippi : Anyone who has sailed in one of the other ships owned and operated by American Cruise Lines will feel right at home on the Queen of the Mississippi.

    Carrying 150 passengers, it is the largest boat in their fleet. Externally it's unmistakably a stern-wheel river boat, but internally its layout is the same as their other ships: she has a dinning room on the main deck, in which all meals are served in a single seating; a large lounge forward on Deck 2 for lecture, entertainment, and happy hours; an open top deck with a modicum of exercise equipment and a putt-putt golf set.

    This set contains images of the boat taken between July 26 and August 9, 2014.

    These images, with additional footage taken at the same time, are also viewable as a video.

To book or learn more about this travel experience, please visit the American Cruise Lines website