Cruise the USA!

One of the cruise options I have wanted to do for years is to cruise the Mississippi on a paddle-wheeler ship! Any travel product which evokes nostalgia and a time gone by seems so romantic and fascinating to me. 

If you want to stay closer to home on your next vacation, this is the perfect option. You can cruise the legendary Mississippi River aboard the newest riverboats in the region and enjoy perfect comfort and modern amenities as you travel to each historical destination. 

The fabric of the region is brought to life through delicious regional cuisine, live onboard music, and customized excursions. You can choose from 10 amazing Mississippi River itineraries including the Lower Mississippi River Cruise traveling from festive New Orleans to soulful Memphis, the Upper Mississippi River Cruise which explores from fascinating St. Louis to welcoming St. Paul, MN, or the Complete Mississippi River Cruise which traverses the entire length of this amazing and historic river.

Here is one of these cruises which I have wanted to personally experience:


CRUISE HIGHLIGHTS  (9 DAYS FROM NEW ORLEANS)

Explore unique sites and attractions along the Mississippi River and admire the beauty of the world around you on a roundtrip river cruise from New Orleans. Uncover the treasures of Lower Mississippi River cities as you indulge in iconic Louisiana cuisine spiced with the cultural flavors of the region’s past. Beginning and ending in one of America’s iconic cities, a roundtrip New Orleans journey offers a sample of the South with stops in stunning port cities like St. Francisville, Natchez and Vicksburg.

DAY 1: NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA


Enjoy your complimentary stay at the pre-cruise hotel. The evening is yours to become acquainted with the city. The cruise Hospitality Desk will be located in the hotel, and their friendly staff can assist with everything from general questions about your upcoming voyage to reserving premium experiences. Both American Queen Steamboat Company and local representatives will be readily available to provide you with dining, entertainment and sightseeing options to maximize your time here.

DAY 2: NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA


New Orleans’s Creole, Cajun and other diverse residents blended to develop art, cuisine, music and general culture unlike any other in the United States. Uncover the treasures of the city as you indulge in iconic cuisine spiced with the cultural flavors of the city’s past, explore the unique sites and attractions lining the historic streets as seen in the famous French Quarter or admire the beauty in the stunning Garden District or City Park. 

DAY 3: RIVER CRUISING


Watch small river towns and lush landscapes slowly become lost in the horizon as sunlight plays upon the deck. Take hold of a literary classic, curl up on a plush chair in a cozy corner and relish in the moment of tranquility. Experience the fulfillment that river cruising offers.

DAY 4: ST. FRANCISVILLE. LOUISIANA


St. Francisville today is a testament to the lifestyle of a bygone era, with its plethora of charming antebellum-period homes and striking architecture. With over 140 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, beautiful plantation homes nestled in the rolling countryside and bustling Main Street shops, this quaint town situated on the bluffs of the Mississippi River has a style all its own. 

DAY 5:  NATCHEZ, MISSISSIPPI


It seems as if history fell asleep and awoke unscathed by the changing of times in this magical port. This charming river town was founded in 1716, making it the oldest city on the Mississippi River. It’s known for its elegance, hospitality and impressive preservation of history – found on every street corner. Enjoy the unique shops, restaurants, museums and historic homes, all of which inspired Hugh Bayless to include Natchez in his book “The 100 Best Towns in America.” 

DAY 6: VICKSBURG, MISSISSIPPI


Vicksburg perfectly blends Southern culture and heritage with exciting modern attractions. As a major battle site during the Civil War, this Southern town carries a history unlike any other. Learn about the historic conflicts of the city, taste its cuisine, visit the many museums and pick out the perfect souvenir. 

DAY 7: BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA


Baton Rouge grants a strikingly different experience from those of the small-town stops throughout the journey. In this energetic port, history-facing museums and landmarks fraternize with forward-looking art and industry to offer a personalized encounter to each visitor. Allow the flowing, carefree words of denizens to dance through the eardrums during a meander through the city streets. Choose to hop on one of our deluxe motor-coaches and explore the diversity this city has to offer, or take a walk down the river path alongside the boat.  

DAY 8: NOTTOWAY RESORT, LOUISIANA


American Queen Steamboat Company features an exclusive port at Nottoway. While the boat is docked, visit the sugarcane estate – the largest standing antebellum mansion in the South. Nottoway is an intricate building with impressive detail. Original furnishings mingle with era-appropriate antiques to create an atmosphere that does justice to the home’s original ambiance. It is fascinating history and luxurious aesthetic packaged in Southern hospitality – an experience that you will not want to pass up. 

DAY 9: NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA


As the journey concludes, there are other opportunities for you to take in the town. Enjoy the city at your leisure, stay some extra nights or return to airport.

VESSEL : AMERICAN QUEEN - CRUISE WITH LIVING HISTORY


The largest steamboat ever built, the grand American Queen is a gracious and elegant triumph of American ingenuity. This flagship paddlewheeler is a gentle soul packaged within the ornate detailing that embellishes her exterior. Any traveler who chooses to cruise on this iconic riverboat will soon find that her steady heart beats to the rhythm of music and discourse that resound within her walls.

Embark on a river cruise on the American Queen, the wondrous steamboat that introduces her riders to the waters that she calls home – the great rivers that have sustained towns, wildlife and memories throughout history.

DINING


Inspired by America’s heartland and the Southern heritage, the menus showcase the varied cultural and culinary influences of the USA. In the elegant J.M. White dining room, any meal will keep you savoring the memory of the flavors and sharing your excitement for the excellent service – even after you leave the boat. If you are looking for a more casual atmosphere, the Front Porch CafĂ© is for you. Meals there feature favorite main dishes, such as roast prime rib alongside irresistible sides – roasted new potatoes, classic mac-and-cheese and fresh salads.

ENTERTAINMENT




One of the many reasons I love this boat are the cabins. I find it incredible to be able to sail the river with furnishings evoking a glamourous bygone era, this only adds to the experience of living in the time of "Gone With The Wind".

OWNER'S SUITE WITH PRIVATE VERANDA


Open French doors and step out onto your veranda to unwind on your amply furnished patio. Adorned with 11- foot vaulted ceilings, overhead lighting and a cozy interior lounging area with a sofa-bed and cocktail tables, these expansive suites can accommodate up to three guests, and epitomize luxurious river cruising. Relish the many exclusive benefits of the Commodore Services while your personal River Butler attends to your every need. 

* 348 sq. ft. with 690-sq.-ft. exclusive veranda
* Queen bed
* Full bathroom with standard tub/shower combination
* Lounging area with sofa-bed
* Dressing area with granite vanity and mirror
* Flat-screen TV
* Coffee maker and mini refrigerator
* French doors open to exclusive veranda
* Furnished patio with sofa, two chairs and a coffee table
* Interior and exterior access
* Promenade Deck
* Commodore Services, including a River Butler

LUXURY SUITE WITH PRIVATE VERANDA


These spacious, elegant suites are furnished to provide the warm ambiance of a fine Southern estate. Open your French doors and delight in sweeping river views as you sip a beverage and share conversation in your cozy sitting area. With two configurations to choose from – either one large room with a private veranda or two adjoining rooms with an open veranda – these suites are the ideal choice for family and friends vacationing together. 

* 353-363 sq. ft. with private or open veranda
* Queen bed or two single beds
* Full bathroom with tub and shower or standard tub/shower combination
* Sitting area with sofa-bed
* Vanity, mirror and desk
* Flat-screen TV
* Coffee maker and mini refrigerator
* French doors open to deck or veranda
* Interior and exterior access
* Promenade and Texas Decks
* Commodore Services, including a River Butler

DELUXE SUITES WITH OPEN VERANDA


You will feel right at home on the river in these magnificent suites. Indulge in a soothing soak in your tub, then retire to your cozy armchair or sofa, prop your feet up on the ottoman and read through the River Times – the daily program – to discover the delights that await. 

* 230 sq. ft. with open veranda 
* Queen bed or two single beds 
* Full bathroom with standard tub/shower combination 
* Sitting area with sofa-bed
* Vanity and mirror
* Flat-screen TV
* French doors open to deck
* Interior and/or exterior access
* Promenade Deck 
* Commodore Services (excludes River Butler)

JUNIOR SUITES WITH OPEN VERANDA


Settle into your sitting area, open the French doors to the deck, and greet the day as the banks of the river majestically slip by. Some staterooms in this category offer a view of the paddlewheel, while others provide expansive views of America’s heartland. 

* 210 sq. ft. with open veranda
* Queen bed or two single beds
* Full bathroom with standard tub/shower combination
* Flat-screen TV
* Sitting area
* Vanity and mirror
* French doors open to deck
* Interior and/or exterior access
* Promenade and Observation Decks
* Preferred dining arrangements

PADDLEWHEEL STATEROOMS


These spacious retreats offer unmatched views, each with a 6-foot-square viewing window that overlooks the paddlewheel, for a truly authentic steamboating experience. It is important to note that while some guests are enamored with the allure of the more traditional experience, others may find the turning of the paddlewheel to produce more sound and vibration than they like at times.  

* Stateroom 383: 342 sq. ft.  
* Staterooms 385 and 386: 302 sq. ft.
* Traditional paddlewheel experience
* Queen bed or two single beds 
* Full bathroom with standard tub/shower combination  
* Flat-screen TV  
* Sitting area with sofa-bed  
* 6-foot-square picture window overlooking the paddlewheel  
* Vanity, mirror and desk 
* Interior access 
* Texas Deck 

DELUXE OUTSIDE SATEROOMS WITH PRIVATE VERANDA


With a private veranda, these staterooms are so enjoyable that you might decide to extend your journey. Relax in a cozy armchair and enjoy the view as you anticipate the activities of the day.

* 190 sq. ft. with 40-sq.-ft. private veranda
* Queen bed or two single beds
* Full bathroom with standard tub/shower combination
* Flat-screen TV
* French doors open to private veranda
* Interior access

OUTSIDE STATEROOM WITH OPEN VERANDA


Can you imagine opening French doors to a sweeping river vista and the sweet scent of magnolia trees? Sit on the deck outside your stateroom and greet early-morning strollers, relax in bed with your favorite book or soak in a hot bath. 

* 190-205 sq. ft. with open veranda
* Queen bed or two single beds
* Full bathroom with standard tub/shower combination
* Flat-screen TV
* French doors open to deck
* Interior and/or exterior access
* Observation Deck


DELUXE OUTSIDE STATEROOM WITH BAY WINDOW


An expansive bay window overlooking the scenery of America’s heartland is the main draw of this spacious category. Curl up in front of the window with a new novel, and savor a moment that belongs to only you. 

* 190 sq. ft. with bay window
* Queen bed or two single beds
* Full bathroom with standard tub/shower combination
* Flat-screen TV
* Interior access
* Cabin Deck

RELAXATION





The rhythm of the river is slow as a southern drawl that invites us all to take a deep breath and enjoy the simple moments. Take in the sunrise with a cup of coffee as you sit on the white rocking chairs of the Front Porch of America, or have a drink at the River Grill as you watch the paddlewheel turn and listen to the sound of the calliope. Or admire the rich mahogany furniture of the Mark Twain Gallery as the space invites you grab a freshly baked cookie and curl up with a good book.

DECK PLAN



If you would like to receive a brochure of this wonderful way of cruising or just want to ask a question with of course no obligation simply contact me either by phone at 1-800-903-5750 or email: francine@grandexplorer.com

Enjoy!


Sandals Reopens

Sandals, the most luxurious 5-Star resorts in the Caribbean are re-opening and have implemented the most advanced precautions for their clients' safety and comfort. For decades this luxury product has offered premium amenities at amazing properties. They pride themselves on offering gourmet food, superb accommodations and best of all they have the finest beach locations in all the Caribbean. Now they will additionally offer the safest resorts in the Caribbean. They have been dedicated to doing a complete head-to-toe sanitization of their properties and have added safety measures everywhere.

Check out this video to see their dedication to your well being:


Over the years you may have noticed images of those incredible over-the-water bungalows in Bali and Fiji in the South Pacific but the distance was prohibitive for you to enjoy them, well you can now find them closer at Sandals Jamaica!  

I cannot even begin to describe how fabulous these accommodations are so I will let these photos say it all . . . . .




These gorgeous over-the-water bungalows, located just off the resort's private island, convey an intimate connection to the Caribbean Sea and deliver complete immersion of the fine turquoise waters and rich marine life below. 

Glass vision floor panels and lit water ensure you can enjoy undersea views at any time. Couples can also admire the beauty of the ocean from their private outdoor Tranquility Soaking Tub for two or over-water hammocks. 

Every bungalow captures the height of luxury with hardwood floors, vaulted ceilings, custom crafted king-size beds adorned with soft linens and plush pillows for the ultimate sleep experience. Inside, each bungalow is also equipped with a smart TV and a large ceiling fan to stay cool while enjoying fresh Caribbean breezes. The bathrooms are equipped with his and hers sinks, a large backlit mirror adorned with mosaic tile, and a walk-in rain shower. 

Outside, your private patio is also equipped with an extended sun deck, outdoor shower, sun loungers, and a bistro set for two. Butler Elite service, which handles every detail of your vacation with unobtrusive grace, 24 hour room service, and a private water taxi to take you to and from the mainland are all included to complete your over-water vacation.

Bungalow guests will also receive the following additional inclusions:

- Private English Butler
- Exclusive in-room dining and room service menu 
- Direct resort access via a "Royal Duffy" luxury boat 
- Personal airport greeting 
- Expedited immigration 
- Private luxury transfers in a chauffeur-driven BMW to and from the airport. 
- Welcome gift, including branded tote and towel set 
- Molton Brown bathroom amenities.

They are offering great rebates at the moment for 2021 stays so give me a call for information with no obligation at 1-800-903-5750

Cruise Sail Update

                       CDC Extends Its "No Sail Order" Through October 31


The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has extended its "No Sail Order" for cruise ships operating from U.S. ports and in U.S. waters through October 31.  The order applies only to ships carrying more than 250 people (passengers and crew).  

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) previously announced that its oceangoing member lines would not sail prior to October 31; that, too, applied only to ships carrying more than 250 people. 

The CDC reportedly had desired to extend the "No Sail Order" through February 2021. According to USA Today and Business Insider, both of which reported that the CDC was overruled for that timing by Vice President Mike Pence and the White House Task Force dealing with the coronavirus situation. 

Official Statement

Here is what the CDC said in its official press release on the "No Sail Order:"

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced today the extension of a 'No Sail Order' for cruise ships through October 31, 2020. This order continues to suspend passenger operations on cruise ships with the capacity to carry at least 250 [people] in waters subject to U.S. jurisdiction.

"Cumulative surveillance data reported to CDC from March 1 through September 29, 2020, shows at least 3,689 COVID-19 or COVID-like illness cases on cruise ships in U.S. waters, in addition to at least 41 reported deaths. We recognize these numbers are likely incomplete and an underestimate.

"Recent outbreaks on cruise ships overseas provide current evidence that cruise ship travel continues to transmit and amplify the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19—even when ships sail at reduced passenger capacities—and would likely spread the infection  into U.S. communities if passenger operations were to resume prematurely in the United States.

"The challenges described in the 'No Sail Order' highlight the need for further action before cruise ships can safely resume passenger operations in the United States.  Recent passenger voyages in foreign countries continue to have outbreaks, despite cruise ship operators having extensive health and safety protocols to prevent the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 on board and spread to communities where passengers disembark. When health and safety protocols were apparently observed, resuming passenger operations significantly burdened public health authorities by creating the need for additional SARS-CoV-2 testing, isolation of infected travelers, contact tracing, and quarantine of exposed people.

"The continued spread of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, risk of resurgence in countries that have suppressed transmission, ongoing concerns related to restarting of cruising internationally, and need for additional time to assess industry measures to control potential SARS-CoV-2 transmission on board cruise ships with passengers without burdening public health, support continuation of the 'No Sail Order' at this time.

"On cruise ships, passengers and crew share spaces that are more crowded than most urban settings. Data show that when only essential crew are on board, ongoing spread of SARS-CoV-2 still occurs. If unrestricted cruise ship passenger operations were permitted to resume, passengers and crew on board would be at increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and those that work or travel on cruise ships would place substantial unnecessary risk on healthcare workers, port personnel and federal partners (i.e., Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Coast Guard), and the communities they return to.

Stay tuned. . . . . .

Beautiful World

Despite what we are experiencing now we have to remember that we still live in a beautiful world. Soon this Covid-19 will be a bad but distant memory allowing us to appreciate the incredible world which we will once again explore. In the meantime we can dream of trips and places to come. 










































Ahhhhh looking forward to more trips!