Celebrity Cruises: Dining Choices Galore on Celebrity Apex

Such a simple thing. But, to me, it shows that Celebrity Cruises aims to please its passengers and pays attention to what breakfast eaters want. In the Celebrity Apex’s buffet restaurant, Oceanview Café, is a popular breakfast item with a sign overtop it – Crispy Bacon. Great idea! I’ve seen it happen so many times on cruise ships where a passenger in the breakfast buffet asks a crew member for crispy bacon. Then the crew member uses …

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American Cruise Lines: Story of ‘Old Abe’ at Vicksburg National Military Park

With his intimidating screech, Old Abe would lead his Wisconsin regiment into battle during the Civil War. His scary screams could be heard across the battlefield. Today, Old Abe is honored with his statue atop a 122-foot column in Vicksburg National Military Park. His figure rests on the Wisconsin State Memorial monument in the historic battleground. Old Abe stands atop the Wisconsin State Memorial. Look closely. Old Abe, of course, is the legendary American bald eagle. Abe’s …

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American Cruise Lines: American Symphony adjusts to low river for excellent cruise

Rides on the American Cruise Lines cruise coach were sometimes a tad longer. The American Symphony might have to dock in an unusual place. Shore excursions could be cancelled or shortened. But for a glorious week, my brother Joe and I cruised from Memphis to New Orleans aboard the beautiful new American Symphony riverboat. And we had a terrific time. The low water levels on the Mississippi River necessitated some adjustments but passengers were just happy to …

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American Cruise Lines: Wonderful ‘non-typical’ days on American Symphony

A reader asked me to write about a typical day on our American Symphony cruise. Very difficult. Because no days are “typical” on this beautiful riverboat. That is one of the great joys of cruising. Seeing something new every day. Stopping in new destinations. Dining on delicious new cuisine. And meeting friendly new people. But I can tell you what a day has offered on the wonderful cruise that my brother Joe and I are enjoying from …

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American Cruise Lines: Secret inside Longwood mansion

Like a magnificent jewel, Longwood mansion nestles atop a Natchez hillside. But the opulent Mississippi home hides a secret inside. “It was never finished,” tour guide Cindy says. “All that was ever finished was the basement and that’s where the family had to live.” The largest octagonal house in America, Longwood was the unfulfilled dream of wealthy planter and physician Haller Nutt. The inside of Longwood was never finished, just the basement. “To me, it is a …

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American Cruise Lines: ‘Velvet Piano Player’ Jon England entertains on American Symphony

My Dad was a natural-born musician. If he heard a song, he could play it. My brother Joe inherited that talent. I did not. On our American Symphony cruise, I knew that Joe would enjoy meeting and hearing talented performer Jon England.  With a name like American Symphony, the new riverboat is an appropriate entertainment home for Jon. With its musical art decor, the Symphony and Jon are a popular team with passengers. Hard to believe but …

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American Cruise Lines: History of ‘Teddy Bears’ on Vicksburg flood wall

Elvis Presley sang about them. My little sisters all had them propped up on their beds. But it was on a riverboat cruise that I learned the true history behind the ubiquitous teddy bears. Once upon a time, President Teddy Roosevelt planned to get out of the White House and go hunting in the woods about 25 miles north of Vicksburg, Mississippi. He set out for a four-day hunt on a fine November day in 1902. When …

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American Cruise Lines: Low river means bus ride to board American Symphony

Because of the low Mississippi River, the American Symphony could not maneuver in Memphis. Instead, after breakfast at The Guest House at Graceland, we climbed aboard a cruise coach for a four-hour ride to Vicksburg. The comfortable coach provided snacks and water plus a halfway stop at a rest area to stretch our legs. I didn’t mind the ride because it was interesting to watch the scenery along the drive. My brother Joe enjoyed seeing the difference …

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American Cruise Lines: Pre-cruise visit to Graceland

Hard to believe this was an “everyday belt,” as the tour guide told us. Putting on cotton gloves, we were invited to heft the belt and take photos with it. Mighty heavy. Mighty gaudy. And mighty valuable. After all, this was a belt once worn by Elvis Presley. On our first pre-cruise night in Memphis, my brother Joe and I went to the complimentary cocktail hour in the Founders’ Room at The Guest House at Graceland. Then …

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American Cruise Lines: Preparing for American Symphony cruise

My brother Joe lives in Durango, Colorado. I live in Bloomington, Indiana. As the last two in a large family of nine, Joe and I try to get together every year. But it is not always easy. We both have busy lives. Joe is a professional drummer with regular gigs. I am a journalist. So, suddenly, it can seem like a year has passed and our planned visits haven’t happened. This year, however, we have made reservations …

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