Review - AQ River Boat & New Orleans Adventure Week

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Plymouth, PA USA
774 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
Ted’s Birthday Cruise With Mardi Gras in New Orleans
(Planning started 1/24/04)
Delta Queen Steamboat Company - RB AMERICAN QUEEN
3 Night Cruise & 4 Night Hotel Stay - $1620 With A $200 Shipboard Credit. Purchased From AAA Travel
3 Included Dinners and 3 Included Attractions!
Air - AVP to MSY - Delta $566 For Both...Purchased Independently.
Fat Tuesday Was February 8, 2005 - Ted’s 48th Birthday!
************************************************** ****************************************
Here is my review of our Delta Queen Steam Boat Company New Orleans and Riverboat Adventure Package...

Thurs - 2/3/05 - Arrived @ MSY Without Incident - Free Transfers to Hilton Garden Inn @ MSY- $89 +
Taxes - Bonus! Room Was Ready @ 12 Noon. Checked In!(No ****** Jokes! LOL)
Used J&J(?) Transportation To French Quater - $30 Round Trip For Two - Great Deal - Call For
Customized Drop Off & Pick Up Times! J&J dropped us off on Bourbon & Touloise - just as a
small 15 or 20 horse carriage parade went down Bourbon St.! We got our first beads!
We then proceeded to EAT our way through the FQ - visiting Johnny’s Po Boys, Central Grocery
and Cafe du Monde! Cocktails were also enjoyed @ Pat O'Brien's(required) and The Cajun Cabin.
J&J promptly picked us up @ the arranged time and took us back to the HGI.
We walked over to the Treasure Chest Casino and had THE absolute WORST Buffet EVER!!
I got my revenge by winning back the cost of the buffet and then some...
Fri - 2/4/05 - Throughly enjoyed the Free Breakfast Buffet @ HGI! We arrived near closing time but they
still made us eggs to order and fresh waffles. We tipped accordingly.
We used the Free Airport Transfer from HGI back to MSY - This is where “it” started to go
downhill. We boarded the Delta Queen contract carrier for our transfer to the pier. 2&1/2 hours
later we arrived @ the pier!! The shuttle made 8 Stops @ various hotels, thru Pre Mardi Gras
traffic, we were dropped off last. Oh well....
Check In did NOT go smoothly. DQ had no record of our $200 Ship(Boat?) Credit. After numerous
phone calls involving AAA, we recieved our credit.
After existing the office, we walked into what only can be described as a “Construction Site”.
The Boat was a Mess! DQ was still working on the boat, there were paint cans, ladders, scaffolding
yellow tape, wet paint signs, garbage bags, etc. etc. all over the Boat Decks, as well as inside.
As expected, our Cabin was not ready. We did enjoy the pre cruise buffet. We visted the pre-order
wine table and were disappointed that our traditonal Sail Away(Steam Away?)favorite Asti
Spumante was not sold by DQ. Since we can not Sail or Steam without popping an Asti(LOL) we
exited the Boat and walked(Long!) to a market near Julia St. that sold Asti. We plainly carried 2
bottles back on board without incident.

Too Be Continued!!!!!!!!
13,108 Posts
Joined Oct 2004
Hello Polish Falcon,

Thanks for sharing the first part of your review with us, although I have to disagree with some points.

I can understand that 2 1/2 hours in a shuttle bus aren´t fun. But a shuttle usually is no express transport. A shuttle (not only the one you used) usually makes several stops and takes much longer than a cab ride. I took a hotel-airport shuttle in Las Vegas which took about an hour for a normal 10 min ride because of all the stops and pick up. DQSC also can´t be made responsible for the heavy traffic because of Mardi Gras.

Regarding your AAA onboard account obviously DQSC agents did clear it up and you got it. Anyway you can´t be sure if it´s a mistake by DQSC or by AAA.

I agree that a boat shouldn´t look like a "construction site". You were on the first cruise after the annual lay up and so it might happen that not everything is finished although it should be.

If I understood you properly you couldn´t enjoy the lunch buffet because your stateroom wasn´t ready. Usually the buffet ends at 3 pm. That´s the time your stateroom should be available. This is written in the brochure you must have received before your cruise. If your stateroom wasn´t available after 3 pm that´s something you can blame DQSC for.

Regarding the Asti Spumante I can only advise you to ask prior to a cruise if you want a certain brand (of anything) available during your cruise. Maybe this is different in the US and I´m sorry to say this but here in Germany (and also in Italy) Asti Spumante is one of the cheapest and worst sparkling wines. Again sorry, but I´d be shocked to see Asti Spumante on the wine list of a boat offering cruises in the high price segment.

Let us see part 2 of your review!

Plymouth, PA USA
774 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
Steamboats - You seem very defensive of DQ. I am simply stating the facts, after all the name of this board is Cruise CRITIC.

We did enjoy our first lunch buffet - here is a copy/paste of what i wrote:
" As expected, our Cabin was not ready. We did enjoy the pre cruise buffet."

As to your opinion of our choice of Asti Spumante - I will not respond except to say this was our 12th cruise and the first to not offer Asti.
I will leave it to the readers of this thread to evaluate your words.

I will continue to write my review as time permits.....
13,108 Posts
Joined Oct 2004
Polish Falcon,

I´m sorry, I didn´t want to hurt anyone.

Yes, I´m defensive regarding DQSC. I know the boats for about 10 years now. If I don´t like them I wouldn´t be a repeat passenger. My passion are steamboats. I will defend the boats but I can accept a critic too. I just don´t want DQSC be blamed for something they´re not responsible for.

You´re right, I didn´t read your posting properly reagarding the lunch buffet. I´m sorry for that. The following sentence "As expected, our Cabin was not ready." made is sound as if you were complaining about this fact.

I can understand that your start of the cruise wasn´t very lucky beginning with the long shuttle transfer. But everything (beginning with the shuttle) in your critic sounded so negative and like DQSC is responsible for all. I just wanted to correct some points.

By the way DQSC has quite a good champagne on their wine list. Nevertheless I don´t like it as it´s too sweet. Being a typical German I prefer dry (very dry) wines.

Plymouth, PA USA
774 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
I was aware from previous reviews that our stateroom would not be ready until 3PM. We had no expectations in that regard. We did enjoy the lunch buffet.
We did enjoy exploring the boat...but I am getting ahead of myself......
Charleston, Charleston Made in Carolina
1,796 Posts
Joined Sep 2001
I certainly understand Steamboats comments. We are very passionate about paddlewheel steamboats. We have spent lots of money on the boats and know that they can be absolutely wonderful, but, yes, can have their faults at times. I think you can see the same type of passion on any of these boards be it from Cunard travellers, Holland America, Princess, NCL, etc.

Yes, Polish Falcon, you have a right to post about your cruise experience, and Steamboats can ask probing questions and make her comments about what is said too. This is a two way street.

I talked to my friend whom was on the very same trip, and he said that the area by the Calliope Bar was very much a work in progress, and quite messy even when no one was working there. He also said that the shuttle from the airport to the boat went as smooth as glass, even on the Friday before Mardi Gras. He further stated that it went better, and was more professional, than his recent shuttle transfer in Tampa by Holland America.

As far as your Asti Spumonti, I'm glad that you were able to pick up a couple of bottles in the Warehouse District and bring them onboard the boat for your bon voyage celebration. Don't expect to be able to buy and bring a couple of bottles on your next Alaskan cruise. They'll be confiscated at the gangway and held by the cruise line till the end of the trip.

Polish Falcon, keep on posting. And I remind everyone of what Mark Twain said, "It's a difference of opinion that makes a horse race." But we'll be handicapping!
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"When we presently got under way and went poking down the broad Ohio, I became a new being and the subject of my own admiration. I was a traveler!"
Mark Twain
58 Posts
Joined Jun 2002
Thanks for the initial review. Am waiting for the remainder. Have questions. I will be traveling solo in the fall on the same trip it will be my first riverboat cruise in the mainland US. Did a DAnube riverboat tour in the fall for my 55th birthday. I admittedly am a "food snob" will you clue me in about cuisine. How were the wine prices on board compared to larger cruise lines? Was the dining open or assigned? Did you notice if there were tables for solo travelers? By the way, I too like sparkling wine....Thanks for your input.
13,108 Posts
Joined Oct 2004
Hello juliedawg,

There are two seatings for dinner. The early seating has the show after dinner, the late seating before dinner. You have an assigned table, no open seating. It´s a five course dinner (and don´t miss the dessert, every day features a bread pudding with a different sauce). You have a choice between two appetizers, two salads, two soups, and four or five entrees and a variety of desserts. For lunch you can choose between the menue and a buffet. It´s open seating for lunch but if you opted for the menue you will be seated (usually on a large table with other passengers). There are few tables for solo travellers. If you want a table for your own call DQSC in advance and immediately contact the Maitre ´D after you boarded to make sure you get your table. Be sure you can´t starve on a steamboat!
Plymouth, PA USA
774 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
Fri 2/4/05 - Continued - We reboarded the AQ around 3PM. We entered through the Starboard side or
Upriver side - and that deck(Texas??) was still strewn with paint pails, ladders, tarps and
assorted construction debris.

We were told our cabin was ready and proceeded to our stateroom. We were not escorted.
I liked that the rooms were not only numbered but were also “named”.
We had the “Carruthers Room??” - named after a town that was wiped out by an earthquake.
Our cabin was as expected, small, but functional, except for the large bathroom. The bathroom
was large, but did not “work”. I. E. - The mirror was not not a medicine cabinet and did not
open. I had no where to put prescription bottles. The shelf above the sink was too widely spaced to
hold prescription bottles but not wide enough to hold a water glass. Ditto for the towel floor stand,
again, not wide enough for this, but too wide for that. I am not explaining my frustration well, but
in a nutshell, the bathroom, while being large in square footage was not ergonomic.

We proceeded to explore the Boat..... What a Beauty!
The Mark Twain Galley, The Ladies and Gentlemen Rooms, The Front Porch Of America,
The Folding Smoke Stacks, The Retractable Pilot House, Amazing! Amazing!!

Then it was time for dinner.......Down Hill We Go Again.....
We had Early Seating(5:15PM). We arrived for dinner around 5PM and were told the seating was
running late. This was not a problem, we had a Cocktail and waited...and waited until 6PM...

After being shown to our Table, Dinner took an amazingly 3 + Hours!!
(Who knows when 2nd seating was served!)
The service, while friendly, was horribly ineffiecnt!
The food was just as bad! Lobster was on the menu...But you could not get it out of the shell!
The waitstaff made heroic efforts but to no avail!!!
We had two Ladies from New England @ our table, who also tried to assist, but it was hopeless.......

We left Dinner early as not to miss “Steam Away” and the Calliope.
Luckily, the Boat left late.
The Aft of the Boat was still under construction, but the Calliope was up and running!
We popped our Asti Spumante as the Calliope played “Dixie” and then took my request to play
“As the Saints Came Marching In”. It was a Golden Moment!
To Be Continued..........
58 Posts
Joined Jun 2002
Thanks--am anxious to hear about the rest of the cruise. Quantity of food is not important to me---quality is what makes a meal memorable. Quite frankly dindin the first night out on a cruise is usually slow service. I like to eat at the late seating. I posted some questions earlier and hope you will answer. Thanks for your input. What amenities were in the bathroom? Was ice readily available? Want to hear more about the shore excursions and your opinion of experiencing it without a "travel partner". Thanks
13,108 Posts
Joined Oct 2004
Hello Polish Falcon,

I´m sorry to hear that service and food wasn´t as good as it should be. I heard that before regarding the AQ. Food was great on the MQ last year, but I realized that the dining room service wasn´t at its best at least on our table. Once we had to wait for about an hour to get our entree. A delay of 45 min is not acceptable.

I haven´t seen the bathrooms on the AQ yet. But I agree there´s not very much storage room in the bathrooms. No shelves and it varies, some staterooms do have a mirror that opens some don´t. I don´t remember if our stateroom on the MQ had one as I don´t use it. But I remember from the DQ that some opened and some not.


Usally towels are plenty and will be changed at least twice a day. You´ll find soap, conditioning shampoo and a body lotion in your bathroom. Bring on your own hair dryer as there aren´t any available (something I always mention in my comment card). There should be a bucket of ice in your stateroom which also will be changed twice a day (no cooler or mini bar). The stateroom attendant should introduce him/herself shortly after your stateroom is available (or at least during the fire drill). If there´s anything lacking don´t hesitate to ask. Regarding the shore tours you´ll receive a brochure with your travel documents. If you choose on of the shore tours offered by DQSC you´re always in a group.

Plymouth, PA USA
774 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
Good Morning!
1. I am sorry if I gave the impression I was a solo traveler. I was not. My wife and I took this trip.
2. Cuisine - It is "Southern". The menu's blend traditional southern items with a dash of New Orleans. Gumbo, catfish,po boys @ lunch, etc. etc.
3. I am sorry but I cannot give you any info on the wine list.
4. Breakfast and lunch are open seating for both the buffet and menu. Dinner is assigned.
5. Soap and shampoo are in the bathroom. I also recall perhaps a little sewing kit? Hairdryers are available from your cabin steward.
6. Ice is readily available from your cabin steward. She kept our 2nd bottle of Asti iced every day!
Plymouth, PA USA
774 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
Fri 2/4/05 - We went to the Grand Saloon and saw the show “Take Me To The River”.
They thoughtfully delayed the start of the show because dinner ran late.
The show was basic, simple and good. Do not go expecting a Carnival Cruise/Broadway production with pyrotechnics and rising stages. The show is 2 male and 2 female singers/dancers with a small band. It celebrates the Mississippi river in song and dance.

It was here that I came to fully understand that DQ was attempting to recreate the pre civil war South. You see, at dinner the Maitre D’ and waiters offered their arm to as many Ladies as possible and escorted them to their tables. At your table, the Ladies ordered first, rather than just “around the horn“. Of course this backfired and confused the waiter when he delivered the food and attempted to serve the Ladies first. He had to ask who got what @ every course. But, it was a heroic attempt @ Southern Chivalry.
The show was the same.
It started off by celebrating the pre civil war steamboat era. Then there was a musical tribute to the Civil War. “Dixie” was worked in several times. Then they acknowledged the Northern victory and the reunification by doing the “Battle Hymn Of The Republic”. Followed by some modern songs with a Mississippi River subject(Proud Mary & Blackwater), The South Had Risen Again!

Sometime during the evening DQ announced that because of high waters we could not stop at Oak Alley. We would miss Oak Alley and proceed directly to Baton Rouge.

After the show we walked around the outside decks and watched some river traffic and then headed to bed.
Plymouth, PA USA
774 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
Sat 2/5/05 - “Steamboatin’ To Baton Rouge” (A Quote From “Steamboatin’ Events“, the daily planner)
As per my work schedule at home, coupled with the 1 hour time difference I was up, showered,
dressed and looking for a coffee by 5 AM. It was not yet light on The River and I shared the Boat
with only the awakening crows and the Barge Trains slipping silently by. They were awake in
The Pilot House though, they kept playing a spotlight over The River illuminating the floatsom
that was coming our way. They avoided most, but several times large logs or branches were
followed by the light and then heard harmlessly ricocheting against the hull.
We were somewhere north of Oak Alley but south of Baton Rouge...The River was well curved.
The sun was rising first on the starboard side and then full aft as the boat followed The River.
I heard the pearls of church bells as we navigated a curve...moving to the starboard I could see a
Church Steeple just peeking over the trees. The sun was just coming full up, the sky was purple,
pink and azure blue. The crows were now in full voice as they went about there morning
business. I got a mug of steaming coffee from The Front Porch Of America, and silently joined
their chorus, as I witnessed a sunrise on The Mighty Mississippi...
Charleston, Charleston Made in Carolina
1,796 Posts
Joined Sep 2001
I had a long chat with my friend whom was on the AMERICAN QUEEN for the same trip that Polish Falcon is posting about. He's been on the three different steamboats of the Delta Queen Steamboat Co. nearly ten times.

He also said that the lobster was not a good choice and that it was way too difficult to remove from the shell. He also said that the service was slow that night, but that he was seated in the dinning room with menu in hand before 6 PM. He also said that due to the high water all passengers boarded on the boat's main deck, and that is where the crew's bikes are stored along with coils of ropes, brooms, brushes, buckets, mops, and the like. It's an area that is off limits to passengers while the boat is steaming. He said there was nothing untoward about it's appearance that day. In fact the boat he said looked good, except at the Calliope Bar, with freshly painted guards and bulkheads. Also the boat was tied off facing downriver towards the Gulf of Mexico due to the big eddy that has the Mississippi River rushing back on itself because of the sharp bend at Algiers Point. He said that all boarding was done on the port side, and you entered into the area forward of the "Grand Saloon" near the passenger elevators.

Now, my personal experiences about the AMERICAN QUEEN's bathrooms are that they are quite large and well designed. Yes, there is not a medicine chest behind the mirror above the sink, but there is a large baker's rack with four large shelves in each of the bathrooms. Each shelf I would estimate to be atleast eight inches deep by two feet wide, maybe larger, and has a rail running along it to keep stuff from falling. I've never been at a want for space in the rooms on the AMERICA QUEEN. The showers in the bathrooms are quite large for any cruise ship, and the more expensive rooms all have bath tubs.

With Polish Falcon's most recent posting, I have to say, he's hit the spirit of steamboating right on the head. Those rare moments in America today such as experiencing the Angelus bells ringing, at pretty much the same location, that Mark Twain might have and countless others before and since Twain. Witnessing a great steamboat being safely guided up the Mississippi River from her decks is a treat in and of itself. Watching the sun come up and painting the sky with dabs of rose, violet and other colors that don't even have a name is priceless. That last posting is almost poetic, and I sure wish that I too was there!
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"When we presently got under way and went poking down the broad Ohio, I became a new being and the subject of my own admiration. I was a traveler!"
Mark Twain
Wilkes-Barre, PA
323 Posts
Joined Oct 2003
We sailed the AQ last April, and just loved everything about it.

Your post about the sunrise is really terrific. I had forgotten about the search lights on the river watching for objects that could damage the boat. We would have a nightcap on our balcony each night, and watch the lights.

What a shame you couldn't stop at Oak Alley due to the high water. When we awoke our first morning, we were docked at Oak Alley. I didn't realize it at first. Our cabin was not on the shore side of the boat. So, it was as I was rounding the deck as part of my morning walk that I looked up, and there it was! I hadn't realized just how close to the river it is. Absolutely beautiful. I'm guessing that you passed it during the night and weren't even able to get a peak. Since your trip returned to NO, I hope you got a look on the way back.
Plymouth, PA USA
774 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
At 8AM we went to the J. M. White Dining Room for breakfast. There was no Riverlorian
present. Service was friendly but incredibly slow and inefficient. It took 2 hours for breakfast!

At 11:30AM we took the Vessel Tour. It was interesting and about an hour long.

At 12:30PM we reported to the dining room for Lunch. Please bear in mind that @ 1:30PM the
“Calliope Capers” takes place - your chance to play The Calliope!!
I asked the waiter if he could us get us in and out in an hour...he laughed and asked if I was
serious!! We were @ a table for 8 - 4 of us left and 4 stayed. We grabbed some items from the
buffet and headed to the still under construction Calliope Bar area.
At 1PM I was first in line @ The Calliope. I played the full Brandenburg Concerto for Calliope.
LOL!!! I played the scale and enjoyed every note! Marsha had her turn and played even better.
We both got our Vox Calliopous Certificates!

At 2:15PM we Flew Kites - It was fun! No one really had success but it was a hoot trying!
We watched a Chef prepare a Crawfish Boil. LIVE CRAWFISH boiled with carrots, onions,
celery, potato’s and spices. It smelled great but we missed tasting it! It was time to start getting
ready for the Captains Champagne Reception. We ran into the people from our lunch table. They
stated lunch took over two hours and the Maitre’D had to finally personally wait on them.

AT 4:30 PM we proceeded to the Captain’s Champagne Reception. We chatted with Captain John
Davitt for a few minutes. He remarked that it was nice to see Northerners on the Boat, I remarked I
was surprised he was not wearing Confederate Gray. We all had a good laugh. The reception was
fine. Plenty of Champagne and Hor’Dourves. Service @ dinner was again agonizingly slow and
disjointed. What it boils down to is the waiter, busboy and kitchen were out of synch. The
appetizers were served but the dishes not cleared before the soup or salads arrived. The salads were
served, both the dressing was 5 to 10 minutes late. Drink refills took a long time or were non existent.
Ditto for wine or cocktails. Menu selections were constantly being served to the wrong guest. Dessert
and coffee never arrived together. The coffee, by the way, was very good! But it never arrived until
you were done with dessert!

To sum it up...There was “No Flow”...
Poor Training? New Crew? Mismatched Teams? Who Knows? We still tipped per the suggested
guidelines but had no regrets skipping dinner the last night in order to watch the Super Bowl...but I
am getting ahead of myself!

After dinner we saw the show, “Yesterday, A Musical Tribute To The Beatles”. It was fine.
We killed some time on deck untill the 10 PM “Mardi Gras Party”. The party was fun! The Boats
Officers and Crew rained beads down from the balcony of The Grand Saloon onto the revelers!

We pulled into Baton Rouge around Midnight. We docked @ the famous “Paper Clip”.
We wasted no time in getting off the Boat and walking to the casino.
We did feel a little unsafe, both ways, walking along the levy.
We reboarded the Boat around 2 or 2:30 AM and feeling a little hungry, we called about room service.
We were told that the vessel did not have 24 hour room service and that if we REALLY wanted they
would wake one of the cooks...we declined.
I watched the late news on the cabin TV and fell asleep..........
HAH! LOL! No TV...

Perhaps it is a sigh or a sign of the times, or perhaps it is a generational thing, but I miss TV in the
cabin! I know that the Great Steamboats of the 1850’s had none...But........I missed mine.....
And while I am on the subject of Great Steamboats and missing things...I also missed the onboard
Casino! Geez...before we left on this cruise, everyone here up North associates Paddle Wheel
Steamboats with gambling! I know, I know, I did my research...No cabin TV’S and No Casino...But I
missed them both!

Coming in the next report...South Philadelphia Lance Vs. The Down East Gang on Super Sunday -
Abita’s by the Endless Bucket, Asti in The Engine Room, Ted plays Cajun Accordian and we all need
good dance lessons!

Is anyone sorry they asked for this review............................................ ..................................................
Plymouth, PA USA
774 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
Calliope Wrote - "Also the
boat was tied off facing downriver towards the Gulf of Mexico due to the big
eddy that has the Mississippi River rushing back on itself because of the sharp
bend at Algiers Point. He said that all boarding was done on the port side, and
you entered into the area forward of the "Grand Saloon" near the passenger

Sir, I am sorry but this IS NOT CORRECT.
As we exited the office @ the Robins(sp) St. Wharf we boarded the Starboard side of the Boat! I know this because when we exited the Boat to buy our Asti we walked upriver through the Wharf structure in an attempt to get a picture of the front of the Boat. I wanted to get a picture of The Grand Staircase? The Grand Entrance? The Grand Front Steps? What ever the Front Steps are called if the Boat pulls head first into a port and drops it's front gangways. I could not get this picture because those steps were covered in tarps, paint cans and construction debris. We back tracked thru the Wharf structure and headed down river to the River Walk Mall. If it would be possible to see the Boat from the River Walk Mall, you would see the Paddle Wheel.

Unless I am completly mixed up, the Boat was pointing Upriver.
Plymouth, PA USA
774 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
As I learned in Naw 'leans - There is no North South East or West - There is upriver and down river....I may be wrong.....But

So, using the River Walk Street car line as a reference...
The Boat was tied up BEFORE the Julia St stop...We walked from the Boat DOWN to this stop...If you continued to follow this line DOWN you would hit Paydras St. Canal St. The French Market Stop, Etc. ..
If you got off @ any of these stops and faced Algiers Point and then looked to the RIGHT you would, if it was possible, see the Stern, Calliope and Paddle Wheel of The Grand American Queen.....

So, is this upriver or down river??? Did we board on Port or Starboard?
I say Starboard!!!
Charleston, Charleston Made in Carolina
1,796 Posts
Joined Sep 2001
Oh boy, is there egg on my face, I looked at my friend's photos of the AMERICAN QUEEN at the Robin Street Wharf the day you all boarded. She's tied up facing upriver. You're right you boarded on her starboard side, and when you left her in New Orleans on Lundi Gras she was facing down river looking at the DELTA QUEEN.

Normally because of that eddy the boats tie up facing the upbound current. This time she didn't.
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"When we presently got under way and went poking down the broad Ohio, I became a new being and the subject of my own admiration. I was a traveler!"
Mark Twain