The post-September 11 demise of Delta Queen Steamboat, American Classic Voyages’ river cruising line -- with the exception of historic flagship Delta Queen Steamboat which continues to sail -- hasn’t left travelers yearning for a trip on middle American waterways completely bereft. New Orleans-based RiverBarge Excursions, the U.S.’ only hotel barge line, just announced its 2002 itineraries. They include four-to-ten day trips on the Mississippi, Ohio River Valley, inland Texas-Louisiana Gulf Intracoastal Railway and the Missouri River, among others. The one-ship line features the 98-guest River Explorer, custom-built just a few years ago.
It’s not too late to sign up for the Mardi Gras Mambo -- one of the more interesting Mardi Gras-themed cruises -- this year. Starting February 4, the River Explorer targets Louisiana’s bayous and swamps before winding up in New Orleans for a few days, where passengers can use the barge as a hotel base-of-operations and participate in the heart of that city’s world famous pre-Lenten festivities.