Yet another U.S. river cruise line is going out of business due to the suffering economy. RiverBarge Excursion Lines announced that due to low demand and rising costs, its last voyage would be the December 30 - January 2 trip out of New Orleans.
You may recall that Majestic America Lines, another big outfit offering Mississippi River cruises, closed up shop just last month.
New Orleans-based RiverBarge Excursion Lines launched its one 196-passenger ship, River Explorer, in 1998. The flat-bottomed vessel is actually two barges hitched together and pushed by a towboat. The line offered multi-day trips along the Mississippi River and its tributaries.
With the shuttering of RiverBarge Excursion Lines, fans of traveling along America's rivers are quickly running out of options. In fact, there are no longer any major cruise lines offering multi-day Mississippi River cruises (but options still exist like houseboat rentals and trips where you sleep on land).
In late October, Majestic America -- whose multiple ships trawled the waters of the central U.S. and Pacific Northwest, including the Mississippi, Ohio, Columbia and Snake Rivers -- closed its doors after putting its fleet up for sale.
Admirers of America's inland waterways still have some options. Remaining lines cruising U.S. rivers include American Cruise Lines (along the eastern seaboard), Cruise West (Pacific Northwest) and St. Lawrence Cruise Lines (in Canada).
For passengers booked on canceled RiverBarge departures, the company's Web site states that all payments are held in an escrow account overseen by the Federal Maritime Commission. The company will reimburse passengers once the funds become available. If you have further questions about your RiverBarge Excursion Lines booking, call 888-462-2743.
--by Erica Silverstein, Associate Editor
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RiverBarge Excursion Lines Closes Shop
December 31, 2008