View Full Version : First timer looking for advice
January 21st, 2006, 02:51 AM
I am a first time cruiser looking for advice on my up comming trip.
I am scheduled on the Mississippi Queen this Nov. from St. Paul to St. Lewis. :) This is a trip I have dreamed of since I first read Huck Finn in grade school. Better late than never.
Because Hannibal has been a focus of this trip for me I know what I want to see and do there, but would love some advice on what to see and do in other ports.
I will be staying over two additional nights in St. Lewis and would love advice on sights and restaurants there as well.
I am born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and this will be my first trip to this area of the country. Anything I should know about weather or dress in Nov. Do I plan for rain? - No problem for a Seattle girl. What should I expect temp. to be? etc....
Any advice will be appreciated.
January 22nd, 2006, 02:41 AM
You shore stops usually will be Winona, Dubuque, Davenport, Burlington (can be replaced by Fort Madison), Hannibal and Alton. DQSC is offering various shore tours at each stop. If youīre interested in steamboat history this is a good itinerary.
On our previous steamboat and road trips Iīve compiled some kind of travel guide which is called "Steamboat Traveller". Youīll nearly find something to do in it at every shore stop.
Here are some things I wonīt miss to do (but Iīm not quite neutral on this topic :D ):
Winona: Donīt miss the Julius C. Wilkie steamboat center. Located right next to the landing in a steamboat replica you will find a nice museum.
Dubuque: Another thing you donīt want to miss: the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium. This is located at Dubqueīs Ice Harbor using the buildings of the former Dubuque Boat & Boiler Works. Itīs also within a walking distance of the landing. If you like to walk a bit, thereīs an incline going up the hill where you have a wonderful view over the town (donīt remember the exact name, might be 4th street incline?).
Davenport: Thatīs a bit tricky as Oneida Street Landing is far away from Downtown Davenport so youīll need some kind of transport. DQSC is offering a shuttle bus in several ports but I donīt know if they do so in Davenport. The Putnam Museum has a big river room and a breathtaking view overlooking the Mississippi River. Another interesting thing is the River Music Experience. Donīt forget the rest of the Quad Cities: Rock Island Arsenal (if youīre interested in military history) or the Mississippi River Visitor Center at Lock 15 (also located on Rock Island Arsenal).
Burlington: Iīm not sure if they are stopping there. Last fall this stop was sometimes replaced by Fort Madison and Iīd prefer that one. The replica of the historic fort is within a walking distance of the landing. Shore tours bring you over to Nauvoo. Burlingtion is famous for itīs Snake Alley, a street winding up the hill.
Hannibal: Sure you know what to do there :) . And youīll find more on our website.
Alton: Usually one offered shore tour is the Melvin Price Lock and Dam with the National Great Rivers Museum. Itīs not close to the landing and youīll need some kind of transportation for it. The Alton Museum of History and Art is located in the University District (transportation needed) and has some nice steamboat artifacts. But you can easily explore the downtown district of Alton from the landing and do some (window) shopping.
St. Louis: Lotīs to do in this town. My DD favorite her "rainbow", the Gateway Arch (nothing for people getting claustrophobic). Also visit the free museum in the lobby. Iīd also suggest a ride on the local boats which is narrated (combo tickets are available at the Arch lobby). Lacledeīs Landing is a nice historic district with lots of restaurants. Some of the major tourist spots are the Soulard District and the Farmerīs Market, Union Station (also great place to eat, lotīs of restaurants) and my favorite is the St. Louis Zoo. Thereīs much more to do in St. Louis.
I havenīt been there in November but rain gear wouldnīt be a bad advice. The best thing is to dress in layers.
Enjoy your cruise!
January 22nd, 2006, 11:17 AM
Thank you for your help. This advice was just what I was looking for.:)
Nauvoo, in Burlington was the only other "must do" I had on my list. I am not Morman but I do have several cousins who are, and I will be going there for lots of pictures and history to bring back to them.
It is good to hear that so much is withing walking distance. There are several good spots that you mention needing transportation though. Should I be looking into the shore tours DCSC offers, or should I just find a fellow cruiser who is interested and share a cab? How available are cabs when the steamboat docks?
I will be checking out the web link you gave.
January 23rd, 2006, 02:46 AM
Iīm not quite sure about the availability of a cab. Most people are doing the offered shore tours. But I saw one or two in several ports. I never tried to get a cab.
If you want to see Nauvoo, Iīd highly recommend to opt for the shore tour. Itīs far away if youīre docking in Burlington. And even in Ft. Madison you have to cross the river and itīs still quite a drive. We made it by car and I remember that all left houses are quite spread over the area. So I think a cab wonīt help much.
Itīs the same if you want to do Rock Island Arsenal.
For Alton Iīm not quite sure. The lock and the museum are free. So the only thing you need is the transportation. The lock tour was quite impressing (have a look on the website to check for the times they do the lock tour). Weīve done that last year (but weīve had a rental car after our cruise). I donīt know whatīs included in the offered shore tour (and if they still offer this tour). I think the lock is about 7 - 10 mi south of Alton.
Iīm on the upriver cruise in July (less port stops) but usually you get a brochure describing all shore tours in this area. So I can tell you more about the offered tours when Iīm back. We usually donīt do the tours as weīve been in that area by boat and car and DD (now 6) would be bored on a letīs say 3 hour shore tour :) .
Feel free to contact me via our websites (see signature)!
January 24th, 2006, 06:02 PM
You've picked the prettiest part of the river for your first cruise. You may be stopping in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, also and its a most welcoming city. When your trip documents come, take a good look at the shore tours and decide which ones you MAY be interested in. Your tour director will have a discussion the first day of your cruise and will explain the tours and the transportation options available in each stop. Also how close to the town you'll be docked and what if anything is within walking distance. He or she will be able to answer any questions. There are usually taxis available in the larger town but shuttles may also be an option. You'll see many crew members take advantage of them.
Have a wonderful time.
January 24th, 2006, 08:46 PM
Thank you for your help. My TA has advised pre-booking the 2 or 3 shore excursions I want most (Navoo, etc.), and waiting to see what on the other ports. I like the "see what's interesting" aspect of this, and will be asking the crew what they recomed.
I am still curious about what to expect weather wise. What temp. and weather should I be ready for? I have lived in the Seattle area all my life and this will be my first trip this far east.
January 25th, 2006, 02:21 AM
no stop in LaCrosse on the downriver cruise :mad: . On the upriver cruise there are two steamboating days. The downriver has a port stop each day (Winona, Dubuque, Davenport, Burlington/Ft. Madison, Hannibal, Alton). I prefer the upriver cruise for I like more steamboating days and I love the stop in LaCrosse (where the steamboat Julia Belle Swain is located).
thereīs no need to book any shore tours in advance (like on blue water ships). You will receive your docs about 3 weeks prior to your cruise. Those usually include a little booklet describing all shore tours (be careful: the booklet describes all shore tours available in this region, not only those available on your cruise). Listen to the shore tour directors talk. Thereīs still plenty of time to book. Iīd suggest to book those tours you want most after the shore tour talk (or on your first day aboard). They usually donīt publish in that booklet if thereīs a shuttle available. Itīs not availble in every town. Shuttle passes were $10 per port last year. I remember that we did a narrated city tour with a horse drawn carriage in Hannibal which was quite nice (and my then 3 years old daughter was allowed to hold the reins, o.k. that horse did know where to go :D ). The carriage was waiting at the landing (this was no boat tour). Usually the shore tour director has brochures and maps available for most of the towns. But itīs always a good idea to search for the towns on the internet and ask for brochures in advance.
Here are some links to our website:
http://www.steamboats.org/php-scripts/coppermine/thumbnails.php?album=5 this is a photo album with 62 photos of the MQ
http://www.steamboats.org/php-scripts/coppermine/displayimage.php?album=5&pos=46 thatīs the Forward Cabin Lounge facing the entrance (left is the Purserīs Desk, to the right is the Shore Tour Desk, you can only see the edge of both).
http://www.rivers-rails.com/boats-mq.shtml here are some more facts and reviews of our last two MQ cruises (photos are the same)
And check http://www.weather.com for monthly averages of each port, f.e. hereīs Davenport
Average high is 48°F, average low is 32°F for November. Iīd suggest to check weather.com a couple of days before youīre leaving to have a look on the 10 days forecast.
January 25th, 2006, 03:02 PM
Sorry you won't be stopping at LaCrosse, its one of my favorite ports. Steamboats is right, it really isn't necessary to pre-book shore tours. If you'd rather not wait for the scheduled talk, you can visit the shore excursion desk when you first board and get all the info to decide. They seldom fill up so fast that you would miss out. I check the web for info on each port andsend for brochures when possible. It not only helps us to familiarize ourselves with the layout but sometimes allows us to plan our own excursion instead of the ones offered. We can pick and choose carefully.
Yes, check weather.com for each port a couple days before leaving. You will certainly need sweatshirt or sweater, jeans or cords. Surprise!! The gift shop will be happy to sell you extra "stuff" should you need some more warm gear. Expect it to be cool in November but hopefully not rainy. The scenery on the upper Mississippi is spectacular.
As the time gets closer and more questions occur, don't hesitate to ask here. We love to talk about our love affair with the rivers.
January 26th, 2006, 12:18 PM
Most of the posts I have been reading are focused on the larger ocean going ships. I has been so good to hear from people who have done the river cruises.
I have been greatly enjoying the links you have provided. Your trip reviews have given me a lot to look forward to.
My original itinerary was north bound on the American Queen - but we all know that had to change rather suddenly. I am going to miss just traveling those two days, but it has given me the chance to go to Navoo.
I know this will not be my last trip on the Mississippi. My mother is already asking if I would go on one of the more souther trips when the lower river is ready for travel again. She wants to do on of the plantation tours.
Thank you for the weather link - I am saving it in my file of online links for the cruise and will be checking in the weeks before I depart.
People have been asking if I feel nervous planning to travel alone on this trip - with such friendly and ready answers to my questions how could I think I won't be meeting new friends on the river.:)
Thank you both.
January 26th, 2006, 12:41 PM
Iīm sure youīll soon find new friends on a river cruise :) . There are a lot of single travellers on a river cruise. We too were booked on the AQ (Ohio River, Pittsburgh - Cincinnati, great stretch of the rivers!!) and had to rebook. We had one day to decide :D . But there was only one cruise fitting in our plans and thatīs the upriver cruise in early July.
If you have any further questions feel free to ask! Weīre happy to answer. As a line of a river song is saying: People on the river are happy to give :D .
January 28th, 2006, 01:36 PM
I just ordered some Visitor Guides. Here are some more links for you:
St. Paul http://www.stpaulcvb.org/
Davenport / Quad Cities http://www.quadcities.com/
St. Louis http://www.explorestlouis.com/
Another great source of information: http://www.greatriverroad.com/
January 28th, 2006, 03:01 PM
I had found most of the city links with google - but the river road was new to me.
Just saw your posts on the food board - will the seafood and aligator that you mentioned by any chance be served on the Mississippi Queen? For me a big part of travel is getting to try food that I might not have at home. In fact a portion of my souviners and gifts to friends and family is often regional foods that we might not see in local stores. You got me thinking and now I wonder :rolleyes: .
January 28th, 2006, 03:23 PM
Hmm, thatīs not me on the food board. But regarding your question about food: thereīs some sea food (shrimp, sometimes lobster), fish (red fish, cat fish), fried oysters, frog legs but no aligator on the menu of the DQSC boats. But in fact I had more sea food and fish on our recent cruise on the Columbia River. You will find a lot of Southern Cuisine on the menu like Gumbo, Jambalaya... Itīs alway a good choice to take the Traditional River Fare. Although with a kid I prefer the buffet for lunch I always have a look on the lunch menu. Donīt miss the Cajun Two Step (Gumbo and Jambalaya) or the Muffuletta (half of it is still too much, but great!). Thereīs a bread pudding each night for dessert (changing flavours). And my favorite is the Mississippi Mud Pie (served at the Captainīs Dinner), although theyīve changed it a bit over the years. Here is the recipe:
Donīt ask me how many cook books we brought home from our trips :D .
Believe me, you wonīt starve. And as a first timer you surely will gain weight. Iīm happy I didnīt gain weight on our last cruise, the Great Steamboat Race (11 nights). Not that the food has been bad, but in the meantime I know what to eat and which are my favorites. So I can skip others. I remember on my first cruise I had a 5 courses each night. Now I skip the soup and salad sticking on the appetizer, entrée and dessert :) .