American Melody Review

Amazingly Informational, Exciting and Entertaining: The Grand Heartland Cruise of the Mississippi River

Review for North America River Cruise on American Melody
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Nose to the road
10+ Cruises • Age 70s

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Sail Date: Nov 2022
Richard Garey as Mark Twain . . .
The ship's decor was bight and upbeat including the entry foyer glass installment that stretched up two decks!
Another wonderful decor item in the River Lounge . . .
A beautiful old home on a bluff over looking the Mississippi River near Winona, Minnesota.
One of the crew members taking a moment for themself and journaling at our port in Winona, Minnesota . . .
A gorgeous sunset at Dubuque, Iowa.
A wonderful old home along the Mississippi River near Davenport, Iowa
Fort Madison at Fort Madison, Iowa. They even fired the old canons for us!
Loved seeing the wild life along the river too. Old logs seemed to be everywhere for the birds!
A gorgeous sunset as seen off the Melody's sundeck as we were leaving Fort Madison, Iowa.
Some of the steeples of Hannibal, Missouri . . .
A statue of Mark Twain in Hannibal, Missouri . . .
A barge loading facility between Hannibal and St. Louis, Missouri.
Loaded barges waiting out the morning fog near St, Louis. From here on we saw hundreds of barges and towboats a day
This is north of St Louis and the water level should be up to the base of the trees in the background. The ship's Captain explained that here the Mississippi River's depth is 25 feet below where it should be. The impact of Climate Change is drastic here!
An old processing plant near St, Louis, Missouri . . .
One of the many bridges we passed under as we came into St. Louis, Missouri.
Soon we saw the Gateway to St. Louis, the St. Louis Arch where we docked at its base . . .
Here in St Louis, we also saw several paddle wheel boats docked for the winter . . .
It is here where we saw the number of tug boats increase and eventually more and more barges.
Here the size of the barge configurations grew easily to 25 or more barges to one tugboat. We even saw one configuration as large as 64 barges with one tugboat!
While the ship stopped for 23 hours just north of Memphis during which they realigned the two barges that came loose, we took part in a tequila tasting and drink mixing class!
Also during this unexpected 23 hour stop, some took part in an all day watercolor class. Here, she is doing a collage of symbols for  the state of Louisianna .
And the Eagle Society held a get together
Soon we were on our way, stopping at Vicksburg, Mississippi where we disembarked through the Melody's unique front ramp! It is amazing what that ship can do!
In Vicksburg, some of us visited the Coca Cola Museum where we saw a wide variety of early Coca Cola bottles and other dispensers while others took an all day tour to the Vicksburg Civil War Battle Field.
Others took the Vicksburg hop on and hop off bus for a tour of the city and the beautiful old houses.
Our next stop was Natchez, Mississippi where we toured the gardens and the Rosalie Mansion built between 1820 and 1823.
The Rosalie Mansion sits on a bluff along the Mississippi River. During the Civil War the Union Troops used it as their headquarters as from there they could see both up and down the river for any activity. It is a gorgeous house to visit. Well worth the time spent there!
All too soon the sun was setting on Natchez and we had to head for New Orleans and our cruise's end on November 18th.
Soon we were seeing beautiful homes along the banks of the Mississippi as we headed to New Orleans.
Along the way we saw more and more processing plants for all types of materials many of which were oil based . . .
The closer we got to New Orleans the more often we saw ocean going vessels loading up materials from the processing plants.
Going into New Orleans is one processing plant after another. Talking with the historian on board the Melody, he noted that the area around New Orleans is the most chemically dangerous part of the world for the environment. Therefore, they have the strictest pollution control laws of anywhere on the planet.

We have cruised well over 900 days on ocean going ships and I wanted to try a river cruise. Having lived in Wisconsin and Illinois all our lives, we decided a cruise down the Mississippi River would be a good start. We embarked on the American Cruise Lines ship the Melody on November 4th at Red Wing, Minnesota. Embarkation was very smooth and probably took less than 15 minutes. Our itinerary took us to Winona, Minnesota; Dubuque, Iowa; Davenport, Iowa; Fort Madison, Iowa; Hannibal, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; and Memphis, Tennissee. However, just north of Memphis our ship came to a 23 hour stand still as two separate barges broke loose of two separate tugboats. As a result our stop at Memphis was deleted from our itinerary. Once we were cleared to move, our ship, the Melody, then went on to stop at Vicksburg, Mississippi, Natchez, Mississippi and finally New Orleans where we disembarked smoothly and quickly on November 18th.

On board with us was a historian who filled us in on a daily basis about the immigration of Europeans to the Mississippi River area and the interactions with the Indians in that territory as well as the geology of the river basin. But the real entertainer was Richard Garey who was a one man impersonation of Mark Twain. He entertained us every evening with a dialog taken directly from Samuel Clemens writings. Richard's silver white hair and mustache, soft blue eyes and ever present southern white linen suit helped to make his impersonation the closest I think one could come to being the real Mark Twain. His impersonation was filled with laughter, insights of living on the Mississippi River and in Hannibal, Missouri, and poignant perspectives on life in general. He truly was the daily highlight of the entertainment. Musicians from on board as well as musicians that joined the ship at different ports helped to keep people singing along and clapping to the music. In addition, there was a popular watercolor class for those who wanted to try watercolor painting for the first time. The last evening during the cocktail time, the class hosted a display of their work . . . which I might say was excellent! One day there was a class on Tequila tasting and tequila drink making. In the game room, couples played cards and bingo as well in the River Lounge. While those intent on keeping fit used the two fitness rooms equiped with a wide variety of equipment.

The meals were outstanding. Whoever the chef was, he/she needed to be given a gold star! The wait staff was also great. They quickly knew how we liked our coffee and had it ready as soon as they spotted us entering the dinning room. They were accommodating to special requests even to the point of getting something at the next port that they did not have in stock. I would say the quality of the meals and wait staff service was better than on some large ocean going ships I have been on!

Cabin Review

Our cabin was a first deck cabin that was larger than some newer ocean going ship's cabins. It was well appointed with two twin beds as requested, plenty of storage drawers, closet area and a private safe. The bathroom and shower were large enough to accommodate two people at once. The outer cabin wall was entirely windows with a sliding glass door to a patio/deck out fitted with two chairs and a small table. The patio/deck was shared with the next door room. The Room Stewards kept the room clean and fresh by cleaning twice daily. That included remaking the beds I had already made each day!

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