Travel Made Easy: American river cruises

The United States is an incredible country and we should go out and see it. I made a list of the places I’d like to see and started planning. Because I was fascinated by the small towns across the U.S., some of the national parks particularly in the West, I focused on how to make these places happen and found American river cruising.

American river cruising is similar to European river cruising in that the ships are small (80–400 passengers), sail on rivers most of which are in the mid-west and western U.S. Some of the river ships are built along the line of the European river boats; some are paddleboats, but all of the American river cruise ships offer an interesting slice of Americana. There are intimate visits to small-town America, some of the smaller national parks, and a large river city or two. But the focus of the American river cruises is learning about the local areas, historical events, and how the businesses and people along the rivers helped shape America.

For travelers who are mobility challenged, American river cruises are the perfect way to see parts of the US. You can enjoy the comfort of an ADA compliant boat with elevators to every floor, wheelchair accessible cabins, and shore excursions that use kneeling motorcoaches with lifts for wheelchairs and ramps for mobility scooters. You can even arrange to have wheelchairs or mobility scooters delivered and picked up at the beginning or end of the cruise.

I just returned from my second cruise on the American Queen Steamboat Company line. The first cruise was from St. Louis to Cincinnati on the Ohio River; the second cruise was from Spokane to Portland on the Columbia & Snake Rivers. ASQC currently has three ships, all paddleboats. The American Cruise Line (ACL) has eleven ships and offers the same rivers but adds some coastal US sailings and Alaska.

While you won’t have to do a costly, long-haul overnight flight to reach the American river cruise ship, you also won’t find bargain basement prices. Because of a federal law called the Jones Act which governs ships sailing between US ports, the staff must be paid American wages including overtime, the ships must be built in the U.S., owned and operated by U.S. citizens or permanent residents. As a result, the cost of an American river cruise is similar to a European river cruise.

Using motorcoaches that travel along the river for shore excursions, a Hop-on/Hop-off format explores each port. There is a map provided of the interesting highlights at each stop varying from small-town museums, historical homes, local spots of interest, and local national parks. You do the bus and sites at your own speed which is perfect when you may move a little slower than most. In every place we visited, we met people who were excited to share their part of America.

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About Kate DeLosso

Kate DeLosso is a travel professional with over 20 years of experience traveling the world on land and by ship, visiting over 30 countries with an emphasis on travel in Asia. Kate DeLosso Travel is a home based travel agency that helps individual travelers and groups explore the US, Europe and Asia. A number of years ago, Kate had stroke and had to re-learn how to walk, type and drive a car. With a mobility handicap, she became aware that travel was “different” for people with physical challenges. One of her missions has become to share the knowledge accumulated after 20 years of traveling the world as a mobility challenged person. Kate DeLosso is a Certified Travel Counselor, Special Interest Travel Specialist and an Accredited Cruise Counselor and founder of Kate DeLosso Travel. She has lived and worked in Chadds Ford since 1999.

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