American Queen Steamboat Company has two vessels, American Queen and American Empress. The former cruises the Lower Mississippi between New Orleans and Memphis, the Upper Mississippi from St Louis to St Paul, and the Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. American Empress cruises the Columbia and Snake rivers of the Pacific Northwest. More: americansteamboatcompany.com
US history and American Queen’s exclusive tours of Vicksburg’s Civil War sites attract buffs from across the world. Meanwhile, this colourful old town with a chequered past also has the Old Court House Museum, which houses macabre memorabilia, such as notices of slave sales, and, more cheerfully, an original Teddy bear given by President Teddy Roosevelt. (The Roosevelts were pioneers in river boat history.)
Our eagerly awaited Premium Experience shore excursion is at hand. This time, we are on the road in a small bus following the Blues Trail to Clarksdale, Mississippi. But first, we cross to Helena, Arkansas, and file into the Greater First Baptist Church to hear the finest, most heartfelt gospel singing imaginable.
Then on to Clarksdale’s Delta Blues Museum, which traces the history and careers of blues legends such as WC Handy, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and others, then finally to Morgan Freeman’s juke joint, Ground Zero, where we snack on all manner of wickedly good southern-fried titbits. We have followed the music and found its source.
Maggy Oehlbeck was a guest of American Queen Steamboat Company.