BARGING ON THE R/B RIVER EXPLORER

Cajuns and Creoles Theme, Southern Louisiana and the Atchafalaya Basin
  Pat Middleton. May not be used without permission.

Note: our understanding is that River Barge Explorer will not operate during 2009.

 

Custom Search

 

 

Contact Information:

RiverBarge Excursion Lines, Inc.
201 Opelouisas Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70114

For reservations, call your travel agent or 1(888) 282-1945

Fax: 504-365-0000 Email: rel@riverbarge.com

Web site: www.riverbarge.com

See map of all
R/B Excursions

 

Other Cajun & New Orleans Favorites

Michaul's on St. Charles
840 St. Charles Ave
New Orleans, LA
"Crawfish galore and authentic Cajun music to boot.Great fun!"

 

"For a Truly
ROYAL Breakfast. You'll never forget this meal!"
Breakfast at Brennan's
417 Royal St
New Orleans, La
504-394-8879

 

Rosewalk House B&B
320 Verret Street
Algiers Point, La 70114
888-368-1500
algiers.org/rosewalk
"Catch the free ferry! Just blocks from the French Quarter."

Levon Holmes
Classic American Cafe and Banu Gibson's Jazz
3
00 Decatur St.
New Orleans
French Quarter
"Call 504-592-CLUB for the Monthly entertainment schedule."

New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau
"Our visit included four nights near the French Quarter. Every day was full!"    ~Pat
www.neworleanscvb.com
(504) 566-5005

More New Orleans links!

 

For the Family:

Aquarium of the America's/Entergy IMAX Theatre
#1 Canal St
New Orleans. LA
504-565-3020
"Ocean & freshwater fish displays. We saw EVEREST at the Imax. Call for most current showings."

 

"Authentic Steamboat Cruise"
NATCHEZ
Toulouse Str Wharf
New Orleans
504-586-8777
"Daily two hour cruises, jazz and dinner cruises."

 

A Cajun Man's Swamp Cruise
with Black Guidry
504-868-4625
"Don't leave Louisiana without a swamp cruise. And this Cajun Man plays accordian, guitar and has a singing dog named Gatorbait! Good Fun!"

Return to the Waterways
Directory for more cruise
reports.

The R/B Explorer consists of a tow boat, the Miss Nari, and two barges.Weeks have slipped away since returning from our first RiverBarge Excursion, and I am still telling the stories from our Cajun/Creole adventure. Stories about the "Grand Derangement" of Nova Scotia’s Acadians in 1755 and their subsequent resettlement in the Louisiana bayous. About Jean LaFitte, the gentleman pirate whose jewels and doubloons are remembered today in the yellow, green and purple plastic beads which, like Christmas decorations, drape Canal Street trees after the Mardi Gras parades. I share the foot-stompin’ Cajun fiddle music of David Greeley with my fiddlin’ neighbor, Dan; the "hot Jazz" of Banu Gibson with my daughter. These days, I seldom cook without checking my new Brennan’s cookbook to see how I might add a touch of Cajun or Creole flavor to my Wisconsin staples.

Our vehicle for exploring the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, and the Intracoastal Waterway from the Algiers Lock to Morgan City was the River Explorer. The tow is a first-of-its-kind cruise vessel consisting of two 295 ft river barges and the Miss Nari tow boat. Stepping into the barges was in every way identical to entering a brand new hotel dockside. The La Salle barge contained 99 staterooms while the DeSoto barge contained the hotel lobby, guest pilot house, galley, showroom, library, gift shop and bar. The rooms were exceptionally spacious by riverboat standards, and each included satellite television, VCRs, twin or super-queen sized beds, mini-refrigerator, and full bath with tub and shower.

What we missed on first walking up the gangway was the familiar paddlewheeler motif itself. But by the time we had been immersed in Cajun and Creole culture and food, explored a few bayous in a pontoon boat and visited plantations dating as far back as 1792, EVERYONE agreed that we weren't even thinking paddlewheelers any more. Dining.GIF (19036 bytes)

"It takes our paddlewheel-
experienced passengers about 24 hours to ‘deprogram,’" Paul Nelson, one of the R/B directors, suggested. "This isn’t a paddlewheeler. It is most similar to a vacation on the world's largest luxury houseboat. It's a laid-back, casual and fraternal group. You're sure to leave with a number of new friends." It also means no dress code for dinner, no assigned seating, and everyone is included in the shore tours at no extra cost!

The river itself was the focus for R/B Chairman Eddie Conrad, the life-long riverman and tow-boat pilot with the original vision for taking passengers out on river barges. Designers of the River Explorer were faithful to make the river integral to life on board. River visibility is an outstanding feature throughout the boat. The dining room, the guest pilot house, the hallways in the public area, and especially in the staterooms boast continuous, full-sized picture windows. The top deck offers unparalleled viewing of the shoreline rolling along beside. And leave the Dramamine behind. Travel is silent and smooth on the River Explorer; except for the passing of trees, it’s virtually impossible to discern when the boat is moving or pulled up along shore.

Custom Search

Cajun_bf96.gif (10657 bytes)
               Cajuns & Creoles

 

 

smmoss.gif (50589 bytes)Our off-boat tours included a guided pontoon boat tour of the bayous just off the intracoastal waterway with "Black" Guidry and his dog `Gator-bait. "Black" narrated the tour, played the accordion and guitar, and sang "Ma Jolie Blonde" while `Gator-bait howled an accompaniment. Barred owls and horned owls, a white-faced Ibis, little blue heron and an alligator decorated the canal levees.

Entertainment on board was probably the least developed aspect of the cruise we experienced. One evening with David Greeley as guest musician was outstanding. On board River Rambles, talent show, and historical background were provided by interested crew members. The increased emphasis on recreation rather than entertainment is reflected in the cruise price which can run as little as $740 per person.

We found the other guests to be the same well-traveled, mostly retired group of passengers that we enjoy so much on the steamboat cruises. Though middle-aged, we were probably the youngest passengers on board. Because the vessel is much larger than most river cruise boats, we never saw more than a handful of people in any one place except during meals. The spaciousness contributed to this being an exceptionally relaxing cruise. Barge life was comfortable, companionable and fun. Passengers were often veteran cruisers and experiences on the Sierra Leone, the Danube, in Madagasgar, the Alaskan waterways and the Columbia River were all dissected by the experienced travelers on board.

Margie of Manalapan, New Jersey, who was on her first river cruise was enthusiastic about seeing the Mississippi River and Intracoastal waterways. "I’ve been on lots of luxury cruises, and this is certainly the most interesting I’ve cruise I’ve ever been on."

Jackson and his wife have been on previous river cruises and he said he was pleased that more cruise lines are re-discovering America’s inland waterways. "As I get older, I’m happy not to have to fly overseas. Our rivers offer fascinating windows into the history and beautiful scenery that we have right here at home."

Bob signed on after he heard casual dress was the rule, with no seating assignments. "And no tipping or shore trip fees. I really like that. I know just what the cost will be. It’s also nice to be able to sit up in the pilot house with the Captains."

Capt. Kenny Williams and pilot Joe Aucoin, like every riverman I’ve ever met, were enthusiastic about the river and the land displayed from the vantage point of the pilot house. Guests were welcome to join them to take in the view and the banter. Joe grew up in the Cajun area we were barging through, and his stories of "flotons" the gelatinous soil that makes up the marshes which are home to cottonmouths, nutrias, gators and more, added precious details and an adventurous flavor to our journey. Trees Reflect.GIF (23121 bytes)

"The `gators don’t bother you none," he declared, "except when you get close to a nest. Then the females will run you down, so you better remember to run in a zig zag pattern!" The River Explorer had just returned from a cruise called "The Route of Jean Lafitte" along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. Capt. Joe was as delighted as his passengers to have seen six pairs of rare whooping cranes from the RiverBarge.

A fact of life when river-boating (or barging) is that one travels at the pleasure of the river. High water under the bridge at St. Louis might result in the riverboat cruising the Tennessee River when passengers expected to be cruising the Mississippi River! I have cruised the lower river when I expected to be on my way to St. Paul. This, we learned, also holds true on the Intracoastal Waterway. High or low water may mean changes in itineraries because the boat risks grounding or can no longer fit beneath a bridge. In our case high water meant we couldn’t squeeze under the bridge to enter the Atchafalaya Basin. Sunset Boats.GIF (22337 bytes)So the swamp portion of the trip was cut short and we spent a little more time among the ocean-going ships between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

An extra evening in New Orleans allowed us to enjoy blues, jazz, and exquisite oyster stew, Bananas Foster, or Crayfish Etouffee with our floating hotel docked just blocks from the French Quarter.

So how does one judge a vacation? Does it spark your curiosity? Ignite your imagination? Re-kindle a sense of adventure?

Janelle Broussard, our guide for St. Martinsville and the Teche Bayou plantations, introduced us to the Acadian history that helped us to appreciate the music and food we enjoyed in New Orleans. Norman Marmillion, our passionate guide at the Laura Plantation, helped us to understand the architecture we later saw in the French Quarter.

This was my first trip to New Orleans and Southern Louisiana—and I greatly enjoyed discovering a whole new culture right here on my favorite river! Could I have discovered it without the River Explorer. Perhaps, but never as comfortably or in such good company as I found on board the R/B River Explorer.Sharpboa.jpg (147998 bytes)

Other regular theme cruises offered by RiverBarge Excursions are pictured below. Click on the map to visit the Internet site for RiverBarge Excursions at www.riverbarge.com

 

Map shows all current cruise routes for the R/B Explorer

Pat's next excursion will be on board the Dutch clipper, ROSA, on the Canal du Midi in the Midi-Pyrenees of Southern France. That trip includes a stretch of aquaduct that carries the canal barge 1800 feet above the ground! It is the longest aquaduct in France.

 

Custom Search


We are rated #1 by Google  for
Mississippi River Travel
, Great River Road,
Waterway Cruise Reports, Small Boat Cruise Reports
 and many many other related
Mississippi River and Travel topics!!!!!
Advertising on www.greatriver.com puts your business in front of over 35,000 UNIQUE ADDRESSES each month.
More than 2,600 different sites link to greatriver.com


 

Google
 
Web www.greatriver.com

     Website Design by Click envelope to contact us!Great River Publishing
Stoddard, WI 54658-9801

Phone 608-457-2734 or click on envelope at left to contact Great River Publishing