With international travel and health protocols still presenting challenges, there’s no better time to experience close to home cruising. With the launch of American Cruise Lines’ new American Melody, that choice of convenience is even more apropos. The company’s current fleet of vessels ply the iconic rivers and waterways of the United States but their Grand Heartland Cruise perfectly captures the spirit of the Mississippi River in style. With an itinerary that might level a challenge to lesser vessels, the American Melody carves its way through a 1600+ mile serpentine path from St Paul, Minnesota to New Orleans, literally dissecting the country.
Unlike the grand rivers of Europe, you won’t find historic cathedrals or ancient relics of the past lining the banks of Old Man River, but what you will encounter is endemic Americana with a profound charisma of its very own. Witnessing the colorful spectacle of season changes is an inherent bonus of our late autumn sailing with the inimitable itinerary expertly curated by American Cruise Line.
Before casting off for 15 days of river adventure, taking in the city of St. Paul, MN. and its sights with a one night hotel stay compliments of the cruise line is the perfect preamble to the journey down the mighty Mississippi.
Rollin’ On The River
Choosing from a full agenda of complimentary shore excursions in each port is a staple of ACL’s inclusive format and soaking up the 19th century charm of Winona, MN. is an appropriate preview of ports ahead. Sailing southward, experience the down home hospitality and sights of Dubuque, Davenport and quaint Ft. Madison, Iowa. In America’s Hometown, Hannibal, MO, the exploits of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn are brought to life through colorful narrative on the ship’s A Walk With Mark Twain excursion. Tour guide extraordinaire, Richard Garvey concludes the tour with a noteworthy, in character performance as Mark Twain in the historic Planter’s Barn Theater.
Midway through the cruise the itinerary deviates from small town USA with a two day visit to the ‘Gateway to the West’, St. Louis. Although you won’t hear tales of historical empires and kings on a Mississippi River cruise, you can visit the mecca for worshippers of our homegrown monarch, the King Of Rock n Roll, Elvis Presley. An exclusive VIP tour of Graceland in Memphis, TN. is an in-depth journey into the life of America’s undisputed musical royalty.
Venturing into deep south Mississippi, explore the antebellum architecture and gain insight into the roots of the Civil War in historic Vicksburg. Authentic southern charm is prominently on display in Baton Rouge, LA. and an incursion into bayou country is an opportunity to view the creatures of the swamp.
It’s All Aboard
Arrival in the Big Easy, New Orleans, LA., signals an end to a captivating 15 day itinerary that is more than enough to stoke patriotic appreciation for the ‘good ole’ USA, but it’s the catchy theme of the American Melody that hits all the high notes that contribute to a relaxing cruise experience, sidestepping hard rock energy in favor of an easy listening, smooth jazz aura.
Displaying a sleek contemporary look and decked out with upscale furnishings, the vessel is a far cry from the bulky steamers chronicled in Mississippi River lore. With a maximum capacity of only 175 guests, there is sentiment of camaraderie that is missed on larger vessels. Contributing to the congenial ambiance, a 100% American crew enthusiastically attend to every need and the luxurious balconied suites provide a distinguished cruise experience sans tuxedoed formality and ostentatious surroundings.
As the ship navigates along its course, the spacious upper sun deck is expertly designed for outdoor leisure time with comfortable lounge chairs and accoutrements. The indoor Sky Lounge with its centrally positioned sky window is ideal for viewing the passing cinema of nature and in the evening serves as a convivial gathering point for pre-dinner cocktails and appetizers. The River Lounge sets the scene for fascinating river lore presented by a well versed historian with musicians and cabaret entertainers performing nightly after dinner.
The al fresco Ellipse cafe located on the aft of the ship serves made to order comfort food from 11am until 5pm and the full service main restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Inclusive of beverages, a selection of fine wines and complimentary excursions in each port, there is little left to add into any cruise budget considerations.
The 2,340 mile river that has served the country for centuries as an aquatic corridor of commerce has redefined itself as an exciting cruise destination. It’s a journey of subtle discovery, visiting cities and towns with fascinating stories to tell that hold a bookmark in American history.
American Cruise Lines is the only 100% US fleet operating exclusively on American rivers and waterways and the upcoming launch of the American Serenade and American Symphony will increase the company’s fleet to 15 vessels. Current policy stipulates that all guests must be fully vaccinated and are subject to COVID-19 testing by the company prior to boarding.