Steamboat Passengers Experience
In the Oldest City On the Mississippi River
Since 1932, visitors have flocked to Natchez, Mississippi, the oldest city on the Mississippi River, to visit some of America's most famous antebellum mansions and experience the grandeur of the pre-Civil War South. During nine special vacations in 2001, passengers aboard the authentic paddlewheelers of The Delta Queen Steamboat Co. can discover the pageantry of Natchez' annual Spring Pilgrimage.
At the heart of the event are guided optional tours of magnificent homes built during the King Cotton era, prior to 1862. Many of the mansions are privately owned, and open their doors to guests only during the pilgrimage season. Passengers from the Delta Queen, Mississippi Queen and American Queen can listen to the stories these historic houses tell, as hoop-skirted hostesses interpret their rooms, furnishings and history, and relate their colorful legends.
The mansions featured vary by cruise, but may include such National Historic Landmarks as:
Aboard the Delta Queen, Mississippi Queen and American Queen,
passengers can continue their explorations of 19th century Southern history. All three
paddlewheelers feature a full-time onboard "riverlorian" dedicated to sharing
the heritage and lore of life along the river.
Columbia River Gorge Headlines
Cruise Itinerary of the New Columbia Queen
Mystical and mysterious in its rugged beauty, the Columbia River Gorge is a breathtaking experience for passengers on 8-night Columbia Queen riverboat vacations in the Pacific Northwest. The gorge, bounded by basalt and granite walls, dense forests and 620-foot Multnomah Fallsdisplays the results of 40 million years of volcanoes and earthquakes and glaciers.
The Columbia Queen is the 161-passenger boat that navigates the Columbia, Snake and Willamette rivers during its 1,000-mile journey that departs from Portland, Oregon, every Saturday, to Astoria, Oregon, on the Pacific Coast, and Lewiston, Idaho, the gateway to Hells Canyon.
Russel Varvel, The Delta Queen Steamboat Co.'s vice president of marketing, says, "The Pacific Northwest is one of the most beautiful and geographically diverse places in the world, and the Columbia River Gorge is the heart of it. Looking up at those magnificent cliffs from the deck of the Columbia Queen, taking pictures of the waterfalls and learning about how the region evolved is a highlight of our passengers's vacations."
The gorges geologic history is etched on its walls. Near the end of the last Ice Age, about 15 million years ago, a flood swept down the river corridor, scouring the cliffs high above the riverbed and creating one of the worlds largest concentrations of waterfalls from tributaries left hanging above the river. With the Columbia River as the only sea level passageway through the Cascade Mountains, the gorge has become one of the worlds handful of east-west canyons.
The gorges life is a multicolored tapestry, encompassing five major ecosystems including wetlands, western forests, cliffs, pine-oak woods, grasslands and 800 species of native wildflowers and flowering shrubs. It also has supported civilization for 10,000 years, nurturing the American Indians with an abundance of natural resources.
It was an important outpost for Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, who ventured into the area in the 1800s. By the mid-19th century, more than 11,000 pioneers had poured into Oregon. Today, barges, railroads and highways have replaced canoes and rafts, but the gorge remains a vital transportation arteryand a tribute to natures indelible imprint.
After a morning of cruising on the Columbia Queen through such a natural paradise, the sight of Bonneville Dam displays for passengers mans ingenuity on the road to progress. When the original lock was built in 1938, its 70-foot lift was the largest single lift lock in the world.
On the itinerary along the Columbia River Gorge is the Maryhill Museum of Art, perched above the river in a castle-like mansion. It contains an eclectic mix of Native American, European and Northwest contemporary art, along with a sampling of Rodins sculptures, Faberge eggs and French fashions. A nearby replica of Englands Stonehenge memorializes local WWI casualties.
Passengers can also explore at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and delve into natural history at the Wasco County Historical Museum. For a more fanciful excursion, passengers can opt to tour the Museum of Carousel Art to see its "flying horses" and related objects.
Columbia Queen vacations feature a 7-night cruise including all onboard meals and activities, and shore excursions to 18 attractions. The vacations also include an overnight stay at the Embassy Suites Historic Multnomah Hotel in Portland, and a visit to Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.
Fares for the 8-night vacations vary seasonally, starting at $2,100 per person (double occupancy) including all port charges, taxes and ground handling. Inquire about early booking offers.
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© 1998 Abigail Best Cruise Agency
Revised: April 29, 2002