Hello and welcome aboard!!  This column is dedicated to travelers and dreamers in search of adventure.  Today’s unforgettable vacation finds us in the midst of Mark Twain territory, cruising along the Mighty Mississippi.  Nicknamed “Old Man River”, the Mississippi is one of the longest rivers in the world.  In the U.S., it’s second only to the Missouri River.

The heartland of America is rich in culture, history and folklore, as you travel the Mississippi River.  It has influenced and inspired countless explorers, writers and musicians for generations.  Bordering ten different states, the Mississippi stretches over 2300 miles from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. 

It’s easy to set your own pace as you relax and explore the historical landmarks along the river.  With the weather being warmer in the south, traveling the Lower Mississippi is available during most of the year.  Lower Mississippi River cruises sail from Memphis, Tennessee and New Orleans, Louisiana.   Upper Mississippi River cruises sail the area between St. Louis, Missouri and St. Paul, Minnesota, as these are seasonal trips usually available from June through October.

Similar to river cruises in Europe, there are themed itineraries for traveling the Mississippi River, including holiday themes for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year.  Music themed cruises can offer jazz from New Orleans, blues from Memphis, or even your favorite Elvis tunes.  And if you’re a history buff, the Mississippi River can certainly provide endless encounters relating to its oldest settlements and the Civil War. 

Customized shore excursions provide unique and exquisite cuisine along each region of the river.  As the small ships and paddle boats make their way up the river, you can take in the beautiful landscapes and still find time for onboard entertainment, cocktail hour and room service.  Most of the Mississippi River cruises will run seven nights and eight days, whereas cruising the entire river will usually take 21 days.  It’s a picturesque adventure that’s well worth your time.  River cruises are definitely transforming travel along our legendary rivers, where you will meet fellow travelers who share your interest in our great American heritage. 

Our “travel tip 101” would suggest you stop in Hannibal, Missouri to visit the childhood home of Mark Twain.  After more than 130 years, it remains almost as it was, including the white picket fence.  Why not turn your bucket list into reality?  Your getaway on the Mighty Mississippi is waiting! 

For further information view www.CruisePlannersJeffFudge.com or call 501-589-2249.  (Jeff and Brenda Fudge are local business owners, and members of the Heber Springs Chamber of Commerce.  You may submit questions to the “Q&A” at jeff.fudge@cruiseplanners.com.)