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Riverboatin' on the Historic Delta Queen
More exploring: Ascending the Grand Staircase in the Forward Passenger Lounge, we arrived in the Texas Lounge, its intimate bar a popular gathering place for Happy Hour in the late afternoons. Here the boat's Riverlorian, the onboard expert on all things pertaining to the Mississippi, hosts informative chats about the river, its lore and navigation. This is also where bingo games enliven the lazy afternoons as the shores drift past.
The lowest level of the boat, one flight down from the Forward Passenger
Lounge, houses the Orleans Room, a charming dining/showroom. Upon
its ironwood floors, passengers dine and later dance to the tunes of a
Dixieland Band, its tin ceiling echoing the honky-tonk melodies.
Riverboatin' is the bed and breakfast of cruising. Think quiet, older
adults (there are no facilities for children), simple pleasures. What the boat (NOT a ship, folks) lacks in
glitz and frenetic activity it makes up for in elegance and laid-back charm.
Guests won't find a noisy casino to gobble up their money; they will find
a thoroughly delightful evening with Mark Twain impersonator. There's no pool or hot tub, but there are plenty of old-fashioned rocking chairs lining the outside decks to while away a lazy afternoon. No art auctions. No dance lessons. But one of us did fly a kite for the first time ever over the mist from the shiny red paddlewheel. And one of us did get a certificate for playing the calliope, on top of the enjoyment of seeing its graceful puffs of steam bubbling up out of the antique pipes. Simple pleasures.
The morning after our departure from Baton Rouge we arrived at Oak
Alley Plantation. When the boat was secured to the shoreline, guests were
permitted to disembark and make the brief walk over the levy to view
this magnificent antebellum homestead, its front drive outlined on both
sides by huge oak trees. An optional tour offers entrance to the building
with a guided escort who provides a fascinating narrative of the mansion's
history and owners.
Later we boarded a bus for an additional tour of a Cajun swamp, abundant with wildlife. Our pontoon boat glided past moss-laden trees while hungry alligators vied for the marshmallows our captain tossed to them.
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Photos ©Ray Fischer