American Duchess Cruise: ‘Steamcoaches’ add to riverboat shore excursions

ABOARD THE AMERICAN DUCHESS – Here comes the American Duchess Steamcoach rolling down the road. The road? Yep, the popular riverboat has personalized steamcoaches decorated to look like their namesake. And they sure are getting second looks whenever they pass by. The colorful motor coaches are painted to closely resemble the exterior of the American Queen – big sister to the American Duchess – complete with the big red paddlewheel and “passengers” waving from the decks. People …

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American Duchess Cruise: Riverlorian Steve Spracklen shares amazing river tales

“I loved that profession (riverboat pilot) far better than any I’ve followed since … I hoped to follow the river the rest of my days and die at the wheel when my mission was ended.” Mark Twain ABOARD THE AMERICAN DUCHESS – Growing up in Joplin, Steve Spracklen thought he’d like to be a musician. He also was a great fan of a fellow Missourian named Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as legendary writer Mark Twain. “I …

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American Duchess Cruise: Admiring my Loft Suite and meeting my River Butler

His name is W. Gerard Williams. He is my River Butler and he seems to be everywhere. When I checked into my Loft Suite aboard the American Duchess, Gerard was there to show me the cabin’s light switches, in-room safe, mini-fridge stocked with complimentary water and sodas, Keurig coffee maker with eight one-cup coffee pods, TV controls, two telephones (one upstairs and one downstairs), balcony door lock, thermostat and other grand features of my amazing stateroom. On …

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American Duchess Cruise: New Orleans hurricane exhibit packs powerful punch

Scrawled on well-worn blue jeans are a man’s name, social security number, blood type, wife’s name, hotel where she was evacuated for safety and the hotel phone number. Claudio Hemb wanted to ensure that his body would be identified and his family notified if he perished in Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters. “Seeing all these things is horrifying,” says Margaret Thompson of Atlanta. “I saw it on the news but this museum just touches my heart and soul.” The …

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American Duchess Cruise: New Orleans museum honors World War II heroes

When Navy corpsman Leo H. Sheer’s landing craft was sunk on its way to Omaha Beach on D-Day, the young sailor was forced to swim ashore amid heavy gunfire. Arriving safely on the beach, Sheer began collecting first-aid pouches from the bodies of dead soldiers to help save the wounded. He hung six of the dead men’s pouches on his equipment belt. Today, Sheer’s blood-stained web belt is displayed at the National World War II Museum in …

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American Duchess Cruise: Preparing for my cruise from Natchez to Memphis

The first cruise I ever took was on the beautiful Mississippi Queen. I was immediately hooked. There is something so luxurious and peaceful traveling on America’s rivers aboard one of these floating palaces. My Mississippi Queen cruise was during her inaugural year in 1976, timed to celebrate America’s bicentennial. At the time, the Mississippi Queen was the largest steamboat ever built with a capacity of 412 guests and 157 crew members. Her paddlewheel bar and 44-whistle steam calliope …

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