After leaving Paducah, we have spent two days floating down the last stretch of the Ohio River and joined the Mississippi near the town of Cairo.
We don’t really have a lot to report as nothing much has taken place. Back in the Ohio River, we were unable to dock at the town of Cape Girardeau and we were also told that we were no longer going to St Louis where we would have spent two days., Instead, we have been heading down stream to Memphis where we will now have nearly four days instead of two. Our trip down the river for the last two days has been at a snails pace to fill in time.
Somehow, we have managed to fil in these two days doing nothing much but watching the river go by and observing some of the sights that we have passed.
The river here is very wide, especially because it is currently flooded.
We passed several sections where the banks had overflowed and flood waters were re-entering the river in low lying places.
Along some sections, workers were working to strengthen the levee banks with large areas of crushed rock.
At one work site, we passed this tow boat, The ‘Mississippi, which is the flagship of the Corps of Engineers – a part of the US Military responsible for building and management of the infrastructure on the river. Barge tows on this part of the river are much larger because they do not have to fit through the locks. I have seen groups of barges with as many as six wide and seven long.
We arrived in Memphis yesterday but because we are two days early, we couldn’t fit into the regular city dock. Instead we were moored at a boat ramp in a suburban area that is about three kilometres away. There was nothing much to do and see here apart from a walk along the path by the river and look at some fo the rather nice houses that front the river. Consistent with the poor level of communication on this cruise, we didn’t know that we were stopping there until we arrived and watched the crew tying the boat up to some trees on the bank.
I have to say that I am not at all enamoured with this cruise and the company that runs it. We have never had an apology for the relocation of our starting point at Louisville rather than Minneapolis. Further changes on the way have been announced as fait accompli without any real notice from the crew or additional apologies. Everything we have learned about changes have been announced by the Cruise Director in a very flippant and insincere manner.
I’m not really one to complain, but this cruise is beginning to feel very complaint worthy. Our original itinerary (the one that I paid for) had 13 stops down the Mississippi. Now, we will only visit just four of them. I understand the problems of navigation on a flooded river, but we were never offered the option of deferring our trip to a better time or cancelling out. As a result, we getting very little of what we paid for. I’ve now written to the cruise company asking for a full refund. I doubt that they will provide it, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. I will also try and seek some redress when we return home.
We have not seen any sign of the Captain for this entire cruise. I think of the comparison between this captain and Richard DeCrespigny who landed a severely disabled Qantas plane in Singapore after an engine explosion. The circumstances are different but Captain DeCrespigny, after landing safely, took time to brief everyone on the incident and stayed with all the passengers until everyone had departed from the airport for their hotels. He even gave everyone his mobile number in case they didn’t think the airline was looking after them properly. That is a sign of a superb leader. On this cruise, we have had multiple changes of plans and very dissatisfied / frustrated customers with no sign of the captain at all. He has addressed the ship over he intercom but nothing more than a two sentence statement. He should have been at the nightly briefing sessions when major changes were announced.
The cruise company (American Cruise Lines) write up their tours as ‘Cruising Done Superbly’ and having ‘Exquisite Cuisine’. Our experience is that this is not the case and I wouldn’t recommend that other Australians travel with them. This cruise is vastly inferior to others we have done in Europe.
The service is OK but the food is just average. It is very much like having a variety of home cooked meat and three vegetables every night. There has been nothing resembling restaurant quality food. The meals are often delivered half cold and vegetables have been watery and overcooked. Frequently, the soup is delivered to the table with as much soup in the saucer as in the bowl.
It turns out that tomorrow’s planned excursions have been organised to a venue that is not open on Tuesdays. This has been another failure but like others, it has been dismissed with a laugh and a flippant apology.
Jill and I have basically given up on the organisation of this cruse and we are just going along with the flow. We’ll see what tomorrow brings when it arrives.