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Holiday cruises along the Mississippi River offer travelers the opportunity to experience traditional celebrations on land and onboard — without any preparation or cleanup.
Here’s an overview of some of the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s cruises available on the Mississippi later this year.
American Queen Steamboat Company offers a nine-day cruise from Memphis to New Orleans, departing Nov. 21. The cruise features traditional dishes created by Southern celebrity chef Regina Charbonneau. Passengers watch the country roll by — much as it did for the early settlers — on the 436-passenger American Queen, the largest steamboat in the world.
A resident riverlorian brings the history of the Mississippi to life, and the steamboat’s beautiful public rooms are dressed up for the holidays. Complimentary shore excursions are available in port, and there are bikes on board for independent-minded guests. Complimentary drinks, including wine and beer, are served at dinner. The theater, designed after Ford’s Theater, hosts remarkably good musical performances.
Old-fashioned holiday celebrations continue with a nine-day Christmas cruise, departing Dec. 19 and sailing round trip from New Orleans. Traditional American culinary pleasures are served alongside classic Cajun and Creole dishes. Onboard decorations and the fiery towers of the Christmas Eve bonfires along the Mississippi offer great photo ops. Travelers can start the new year on a nine-day cruise departing Dec. 26 and sailing round trip from New Orleans. The transition from 2014 to 2015 is celebrated with champagne and a confetti shower in the ship’s beautiful Grand Saloon.
All of the cruises start with an included overnight in a deluxe hotel that permits guests to enjoy the homeport city, relax after flying or allow for any air delays.
American Cruise Lines’ 120-passenger Queen of the Mississippi sails an eight-day Thanksgiving cruise from Memphis to New Orleans, departing Nov. 22. The line partners with Connecticut Food Bank to help feed the hungry by donating $50 per ticket sold. Complimentary shore excursions give guests a taste of seasonal celebrations in riverside communities.
American’s Christmas cruise, departing Dec. 20 and sailing roundtrip from New Orleans, includes a holiday concert in the music room of the beautifully preserved J.N. Stone House in historic Natchez. Guests can create ornaments and gingerbread houses and feast in local tradition. A Dec. 19 complimentary pre-cruise celebration with dinner at the historic Antoine’s Restaurant in New Orleans is included.
A Dec. 28 New Year’s cruise sailing round trip from New Orleans allows guests to ring out 2014 with dinner and midnight champagne, and celebrate the start of 2015 with a sumptuous brunch. Those who arrive on Dec. 27 are invited to a pre-cruise celebration at Antoine's to kick things off.
Live entertainment for American Cruise Lines’ holiday cruises includes the Victory Belles from the National WWII Museum and the New Orleans All Stars.
American Queen Steamboat Companywww.americanqueen.com
American Cruise Lineswww.americancruiselines.com