8 – Day Upper Mississippi – BEAUTY, BLUFFS AND BOUNTY PREVAIL
Cruise along the Upper Mississippi and witness the natural splendor as dramatic riverbanks and bluffs of this glacial valley come alive. Relax on the veranda as you watch deer sip water from fluvial terraces, or behold bald eagles swoop into the wake of the paddlewheel all from the comfort of our luxury vessels. Much like Mark Twain would have experienced on his many trips along the river, you’ll be captivated by the people you meet, cultures you discover and bounty that awaits. Explore all our American river cruises to find your dream voyage today! The upper reaches of the Mississippi River offer opportunities to explore the territory that served as Mark Twain’s muse. The river stretches north toward country that’s almost as wild and beautiful as it must have been during his lifetime, and, still enlivened by the coming and going of rivercraft, this course offers adventure for all who embark upon it onboard the American Countess. Premium Shore Excursions are subject to varied costs and are subject to availability.
Day 1: Alton, IL (St. Louis, MO) – Departure 5:00 PM
In its early days, Alton was a bustling river town, much larger than Chicago. Alton was built on industry – flour mills, quarries, brick making, pottery making – and relied on the Mississippi River. The “Steamboat Era” played an important role of the growth of Alton, and riverboat traffic can still be seen from the riverfront up and down the mighty Mississippi River.
Day 2: Hannibal, MO – The city was founded in 1819 by Moses D. Bates and became a popular stop along the river for many steamboats traveling up the Mississippi River. Hannibal has a rich history, diverse industrial economy and truly remarkable arts. the city offers more parks per citizens than most towns in the Midwest and was included in the famous “50 Miles of Art.” Today, the most popular draw of this quirky town is Hannibal’s very own Samuel Langhorne Clemens, recognized world-wide as Mark Twain. Many of the popular characters featured in Twain’s novels were based on people Clemens had known while growing up in Hannibal. Many of the characters and influences of this American icon are weaved into the streets, shops, restaurants, and museums of Hannibal waiting to be uncovered.
INCLUDED SHORE EXCURSIONS
Big River Train Town – This Hannibal gem is packed with more toy trains than you have probably ever seen. Enjoy authentic replicas as they move swiftly along the tracks or learn the history of the models and the trains they are made after. As you walk around, relive your childhood and learn the stories of the railways’ past as you view some authentic memorabilia.
The Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum – This included tour visits seven buildings, five of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and two that are highly interactive museums showcasing fifteen original Norman Rockwell paintings! Learn about the Hannibal of Samuel Clemens’s childhood and explore the stories created through the powerful imagination of American icon, Mark Twain. See the home where Clemens was raised, and where the Tom Sawyer adventures took place, along with the home’s lovely gardens!
Trinity Episcopal Church – For more than 150 years, the Sanctuary of Trinity Episcopal Church, designed by architect Joseph A. Miller, has stood the test of time. With an interior consisting of a deeply arched heavy wooden beamed ceiling, beautiful bronze lanterns and side wall lamps, an impressive pipe organ and 18 illustriously conceived stained glass windows, Trinity Church is truly a historic marvel. As you step into the church, you are immediately transported back into time and enveloped by Hannibal’s past. Early church members commissioned well-known artists to design the Sanctuary’s beautiful stained glass windows. With signature designs by Charles Booth, Emil Frei, Jr. and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Glass Company, these windows are truly remarkable in their diverse artistic style, thematic construction and conceptual execution.
Karlocks Kars and Pop Culture Museum – Take a self-guided tour through Hannibal’s newest attraction! There is over 10,000 Square feet of artifacts which allow you to relive historic, pop culture moments. This museum also features over a dozen vintage cars, arcade games, 100’s of signs & posters, movie props, and jukeboxes!
Hannibal History Museum – Through interactive exhibits, artifacts and historic photos, the Hannibal History Museum tells the story of Hannibal’s remarkable past with exhibits including the founding of Hannibal which showcases how the New Madrid Earthquake and the failed settlement of Marion City affected the fledgling river town of Hannibal. Other exhibits include Antebellum Hannibal, Hannibal’s Civil War, the Lumber Barons, The 20th Century Industry, The Art of Architecture, the Prominent Hannibalians and so much more!
PREMIUM SHORE EXCURSIONS
Mississippi Mud…A Hands-on Experience – Prepare yourself for a day of creativity and expression as we set out for the working studio at Ayer’s Pottery. As you enter this quaint and quirky shop, take in the organic, earthy aroma that radiates from each rustic brick lining the walls of the gallery. Then, get ready to suit up and give it a try for yourself! Head down to the workshop, and become an artist, spinning your very own potter’s wheel as you try out some of the techniques you watched during the demonstration, but keep in mind that creativity can be messy business! Please note: in order to proceed to the workshop, guests must be able to travel down 16-steps comfortably. Transportation – Provided Duration – 1.5 hours
Muddy River Radio’s Live Rendition of “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” – In the early 1900s, a groundbreaking invention changed household entertainment. Step back in time to an era before television, the internet and social media – the Golden Age of Radio. With the invention of the radio, for the first time in history, Americans could receive timely information, sometimes up to the minute, an unfathomable concept at the time. Do not miss out on this exclusive opportunity to celebrate the Mississippi region and an era that has faded into our history books! Transportation – Provided Duration – 1.75 hours
Day 3: Leisurely River Cruising – There is always plenty to do between dawn and dusk on the river and today is the perfect day to enjoy the many public spaces and activities that are available to you onboard. Gaze at the beautiful landscapes and small river towns as you mingle with fellow guests and discuss the unique aspects of river life. If you fancy a moment for yourself, retreat to The Library adorned with bookcases stocked with an imaginative selection. Take hold of a literary classic, curl up on a plush chair in a cozy corner and relish every moment of serenity. Our fitness facility, Card Room and Grand Lobby offer a more stimulating day on the river for those who wish to indulge in more energy-infused activity. However you wish to spend your day, make it your own and revel in every moment.
Day 4: Clinton, IA – The city of Clinton has much to offer, all with the beautiful backdrop of the Mississippi River. Situated at the crossroads of the Lincoln Highway and the Great River Road, Clinton is the Eastern-most point in the state of Iowa. At the height of its local economy during the late 19th Century, Clinton was regarded as the lumber capital of the nation; a history that is reflected as visitors pass many old sawmills. Today, agriculture plays a big part in Clinton’s economy, which is visible in the beautiful rolling fields filled with luscious, fresh harvest crops. Explore the history of this fascinating river town and discover a lifestyle that will stand out from today’s norm!
INCLUDED SHORE EXCURSIONS
Windmill Cultural Center – The Windmill Cultural Center was dedicated in April 2010 and show- cases 23 model windmills and the variety of tasks they are able to perform. The windmills represent mills found in 10 European countries. Three of the models are motorized, and the windmills vary in size from tabletop to 6’ tall. The different backgrounds of the windmills give each its own design, which demonstrates the evolution of windmills throughout the years. Located inside the Center is a charming gift shop where unique gifts, such as Delft pottery, windmill souvenirs, and De Immigrant stone-ground flour may be purchased.
De Immigrant Windmill – This impressive, authentic Dutch windmill stands 90 feet tall on the dike in Fulton, Illinois. The windmill was built specifically for Fulton in the Netherlands. Dutch millwrights built the structure, and traveled to Fulton several times to reassemble it; and was dedicated at the annual Dutch Days festival in May 2000. The windmill stands proudly to honor the local Dutch heritage. It is fully operational, using the sails to run millstones to grind grain. Stone-ground flours are produced at the windmill and sold at the gift shop. Volunteers guide guests through the interior where they are able to admire this incredible Fulton landmark.
Sawmill Museum – Lumber was an essential resource in the city of Clinton, not only for the construction of buildings and barns, but also for its contribution to the industry that brought with it the railroad, the immigrants, and the entrepreneurs. Hear the buzz of the sawmill as logs are cut into lumber and envision the workings of the Struve Mill where hundreds of pieces of wood became beautiful trims, doors, and flooring. Experience what life was really like in a lumber camp, then, watch in amazement as four famous Clinton lumber barons come back to life to share the story of how they put the city of Clinton on the map!
George M. Curtis Mansion – This restored Victorian home of lumber baron George M. Curtis is a prime example of period architecture with its original Tiffany glass windows, delicately carved banisters, and massive fireplaces. Rich in history, this mansion makes an elegant backdrop for special events and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The tour of the Mansion will end on the wrap-around front porch.
Clinton County Historical Museum & Library – Since its establishment in 1964, this Museum has established a collection of artifacts. The exhibits and galleries take up two floors of the building and display local art, artifacts and history, antique musical instruments, and much more. After exploring the fascinating and interactive museum floors, gusts can stop into the gift shop, where souvenirs can be purchased!
Day 5: Dubuque, IA – One of the few large cities in Iowa with hills, Dubuque is an extremely popular tourist destination, featuring unique architecture and desirable river location. From the America’s River Project in the Port of Dubuque that transformed the riverfront, to the revitalization of the historic Main Street, the ongoing evolution of the Historic Millwork District downtown, and the impressive and expansive westward growth, Dubuque remains a remarkable city along the Mississippi. Intelligent Community Forum named Dubuque as one of just five U.S. cities as a “Smart21 Community” in 2015 and the National Civic League has named Dubuque as a top All-American City three times in just six years! Guests will surely enjoy exploring this beautiful and unique city.
INCLUDED SHORE EXCURSIONS
St. Luke’s United Methodist Church – This beautiful Romanesque style church is characterized by thick walls, heavy columns and round arches for windows and doors. On foundations 32 inches thick, the walls are built of enduring Bedford limestone from Indiana. Inside, the original organ from 1897 has been restored and is once again functioning, murals are displayed, and impressive wood-work. The church is most noted for its large collection of Tiffany stained glass windows, which have been called, “one of the five finest Religious Tiffany Collections in the world.”
Dubuque Museum of Art – This is the oldest cultural institution in the State of Iowa and was founded over 140 years ago as the Dubuque Art Association. Inside is a permanent collection of over 2K works concentrating on 20th-century American art with an emphasis on American Regionalism and artists connected to the area.
Old Courthouse Museum – Now a National Historic Landmark, construction for this colossal courthouse began in 1858 and was completed in just two years in 1860. It survived Union shelling, and a direct hit from a tornado in 1953. The Museum is filled with countless artifacts, including an original Teddy Bear given by Theodore Roosevelt, and much more!
The Fenelon Place Elevator – This is described as the world’s shortest, steepest scenic railway, 296 feet in length, elevating passengers 189 feet from Fourth Street to Fenelon Place. The railway was constructed for the private use by a former state senator. View the Dubuque business district, the river and three states.
Cable Car Square – The Square offers guests three blocks of boutiques and specialty shops. From the home and garden stores to apparel and accessories to a fair-trade retailer. Make sure to enjoy the coffee and sweet treats shops, as well as a store where you can sample homemade peanut butter!
Hotel Julien Dubuque – The original structure, was called the Waples House and was named after its owner, Peter Waples, a wealthy Dubuque merchant. It was the first building visible to the travelers entering Dubuque from across the Mississippi. Furnished extravagantly it was known far and wide for its gourmet cuisine. Now, over 100 years later, after a renovation and restoration, Hotel Julien Dubuque has redefined elegance through the blending of its rich history with modern luxury and style.
Grand Opera House – Dubuque’s historic Grand Opera House is the oldest and grandest of more than 16 theaters that served the community prior to 1900. In 1889, W.L. Bradley, Jr. and other local businessmen created this iconic landmark. The 1,100 seat auditorium is large enough to host major theatrical productions. Today, the theater is still used by the community and the productions continue to amaze guests.
PREMIUM SHORE EXCURSIONS
Galena, Illinois Including the Home of General Ulysses S. Grant – Unwind as we travel to the beautiful town of Galena, nestled in the rolling hills of Northwest Illinois, enchanting visitors with incredible historic sites and attractions, wonderful specialty shops and unlimited dining options. As you lounge in the comfort of the AQSC Luxury Motorcoach, gaze out on some of Galena’s hidden treasures as they fill the frames of your windows. Your day in Galena is spent at your leisure. Galena has their own spin on a “cup of joe,” and is reminiscent of “Main Street USA.” Transportation – Provided Duration – 4.5 hours
Day 6: La Crosse, WI – Named by explorer Zebulon Pike, who saw a group of people playing a game with sticks that looked like a cross, La Crosse is now a popular tourist stop. Filled with statues, architecture, and an exquisite view of the river, it is an artist’s dream. Like much of Wisconsin, La Crosse became heavily involved with the lumber industry in the mid-1800s until the decline of the forests. Today, make note of lingering pieces of history along the streets of the city, and within the floorboards of historic homes and businesses.
INCLUDED SHORE EXCURSIONS
Dahl Auto Museum – This Museum celebrates the Dahl family’s involvement as automotive dealers spanning over 100 years and five generations. It also features the history of the automobile through the eyes of the Ford Motor Company, an extensive mascot collection and many beautifully restored classic automobiles from the turn of the century to present. To incorporate historic La Crosse, the museum also features a re-creation of the Starlite Drive-in Theater.
Chapels of St. Rose – The shape of this immense and beautiful chapel symbolizes attributes of God. The high ceilings represent a God who transcends the finite world while the shape of the nave, transepts and sanctuary form a cross, acknowledging an immanent God who has been with humankind even through suffering and death. At the entrance of the chapel, just above the door, a relief of Moses before the burning bush is showcased. Admire bronzed statues, symbolic paintings and sculptures, stained glass windows and mosaics.
Hixon House – This beautiful Victorian house is filled with nearly all of the original furnishings, making it stand out from many other historical homes. The construction began in 1858 by lumber baron Gideon Hixon, who featured beautiful woodwork and ornate decoration. His wife, Ellen, is responsible for the decoration of the home, who chose the late Victorian/Edwardian style. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Riverside Museum – This Museum exhibits the history of La Crosse, concentrating on the Mississippi River and its importance to the area. Exhibits range from prehistoric artifacts and cave drawings to logging, rafting, and the Pearl Button Process. A large collection of artifacts from the steamboat “War Eagle” are on display.
Riverside International Friendship Garden – La Crosse enjoys thriving relationships with sister cities, business partners, students and people from around the world. To celebrate the success of these partnerships, and build a tribute to the culture and traditions, the township decided to create a garden filled with the flowers and decorations closely resembling a garden that could be found in each one of these sister cities.
PREMIUM SHORE EXCURSIONS
Winona Revealed: The Midwest’s Best Kept Secret – Including a city tour, a ride on the Winona Tour Boat, and admission to the History Center and Minnesota Marine Art Museum. Begin the day at the History Center, where exhibits will showcase an era where the bluffs were just being formed and the area was a booming lumber town. Experience the Mississippi River as our guide covers river history, aquatic life, and the river’s local environment, making sure to point out wildlife, and scenery. Along the river banks is a refreshing contrast to the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Transportation – Provided Duration – 2.5 hours
Day 7: Red Wing, MN – Red Wing, Minnesota was included on National Geographic Traveler’s list of most historic places in the world. Discovered in the early 1850’s, the lands were used mostly for harvesting wheat that would be transported on the river. Later in Red Wing’s history the economy began to flourish with the pottery industry until 1967. Today, the city offers endless opportunities to travel back in time and learn about settlers and travelers that occupied the land, or to admire the craftsmanship and creativity of local artisans.
INCLUDED SHORE EXCURSIONS
Aliveo Military Museum – This Military Museum has a significant collection of military artifacts and relics from all major wars from the Revolutionary War to the current Middle-East Wars. They believe in education about our military history through preservation and presentation of the military artifacts themselves.
Red Wing Marine Museum – This Museum is in one of the city’s historical venues along the river near the boat house village and depicts one of the oldest manufacturing industries – the boat and motor business. It sits very near the site of the original factory. The museum exhibits include more than 30 restored Red Wing marine engines, outboard motors and a display of fishing tackle, photographs, documents and other river-related items. The plant used steam power, then distributed water throughout the city. This building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and received an Award of Merit from the Heritage Preservation Committee in 2014 for the work done to preserve this significantly historic asset in the city.
Pottery Museum of Red Wing – Nearly 6K unique pieces of stoneware, art pottery, and dinnerware await you at this Museum. Spanning 90 years of production from 1877, these artifacts tell the dynamic and colorful story of this Mississippi River town. Using nature’s elements of earth, fire, and water, the pottery artisans created a local legacy known throughout the world.
St. James Hotel – This beautiful and historic hotel opened on Thanksgiving Day in 1875, drawing in many businessmen who wished for first-class lodging in the wheat-trading center of the world. The Hotel became an immediate sensation, cementing its name as the hub of activity nearly overnight. Located just a few steps from the train depot and steam boating docks, St. James was booked to full capacity each night. Today, the hotel is owned by the Red Wing Shoe Company and continues to flaunt pristine elegance in each and every detail, just as it has for the past 140 years.
PREMIUM SHORE EXCURSIONS
On Eagle’s Wings – Set out for the oldest city along the Upper Mississippi River, Wabasha, Minnesota. Notice the buildings along the road as we enter Wabasha, overflowing with history and culture. Prepare yourself for an unforgettable “nose to beak” experience as we arrive at the National Eagle Center. Get up close and personal to these regal creatures unlike never before as trained professionals supervise a room full of golden eagles. This is the perfect location for bird watching and when you finally catch sight of these incredible and powerful birds soaring over the currents of the Mighty Mississippi River, you will truly understand the meaning and beauty of the Freedom it proudly represents! Transportation – Provided Duration – 4 hours
Day 8: Red Wing, MN (Minneapolis) – Thank you for cruising with us! We hope that you had a memorable experience and look forward to welcoming you aboard in the future. Enjoy Red Wing or Minneapolis/St. Paul at your leisure or consider a Post-Cruise Premium Shore Excursion with airport transfer.
PREMIUM SHORE EXCURSIONS
Post-Cruise: Twin Cities Tour – Today, discover the rich history of Minnesota’s bustling, energetic capital, St. Paul. Uncover some of the city’s many mysteries as you learn why the city has been divided into two cities, rather than one, why the state capital rooted its home here, and the reasons behind the names “Minneapolis” and “St. Paul.” At Minnehaha Falls, breathe in the fresh air and watch the fresh water pour off the slick sheets of rock at the top of the cliffs. Note: This tour ends at the Minneapolis- St. Paul International Airport or a Post-Cruise Hotel. (Please book flights after 2:00 PM.) Transportation – Provided Duration – 5 hours