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Cruising the Mississippi on the Celebration Belle

If you have ever dreamed of taking a cruise on the Mississippi River, the Celebration Belle offers the opportunity to take several different types of cruises. With themed cruises, narrated lunch and sightseeing cruises, dinner and dance cruises, 100 mile day cruises and fall overnight cruises, there is bound to be one to suit your fancy.

The Celebration Belle is a family-owned operation, and the Schadler family has been providing cruises on the Mississippi River for more than 30 years. They are involved with every aspect of the daily operation of the ship from preparation of the fresh food to piloting the boat.

Among the most popular cruises are the themed music cruises which cover a variety of different music styles from Big Band to Show Tunes, Oktoberfest to Gospel. These cruises are four hours and leave from either Moline, Ill. or Dubuque, Iowa.

While the Celebration Belle looks like a traditional river steamboat, it was built in 1986 and has all the modern amenities. With a capacity of 770 passengers, it is the largest excursion boat on the upper Mississippi and the 3rd largest on the river. We took a two-hour narrated sightseeing tour and were introduced to the Quad-Cities and their relationship to the river.

There is a lot of information imparted as you sit and enjoy the cool breezes on the river. The Mississippi River is 2,400 miles long and begins in Minnesota. The Mississippi is 200 feet deep in New Orleans, in the Quad Cites it is between 15 and 30 feet deep. There are 20 locks in the river between St. Paul, Minnesota and St. Louis Missouri that help to maintain the depth of the water. Lock # 15 is located at the Quad0-Cities. The riverboat sets seven feet down in the water.

Where the Quad Cities is located on the river there were once rapids that were difficult to navigate. They solved this problem by burying the rapids under 15 feet of water. There are five bridges across the river in the Quad cities. Among the sites that are pointed out as the Celebration Belle travels along the Mississippi is the Rock Island Arsenal Island. At one time during the Civil War there were 13,000 Confederate prisoners of war confined on the Island. Many of them died in prison and are buried on the island. The Col. Davenport House and the Confederate Cemetery are popular local attractions. Today the arsenal is one of the largest employers in the area.

The boat cruises past the historic Antoine LeClaire House which is high on a hill in the city of Davenport. There are also bike trails that travel along the river for over 60 miles.

The boat has two excursion decks. You need to be able to climb stairs to get to these decks. There is seating along the sides of the deck as well as at tables. Being able to sit outdoors is part of the enjoyment of taking a cruise especially on a warm August afternoon.

Before or after your cruise you will want to allow some time to shop in The Best of Everything Gift Shop, it is quite amazing. If you are visiting the Quad Cities check out the schedule of cruises being offered, it is truly a unique opportunity to bring out your inner “Mark Twain”.