Mississippi cruises to Burlington, Fort Madison and Keokuk begin Sunday
Regular Mississippi River tours arrive in Burlington, Fort Madison, and Keokuk.
Dale Hunt and his partners at Iowa-based Mississippi River Experience will begin 90-minute excursions on Sunday in their 45-foot-long, 12-foot-wide pontoon, Legacy, on the dock near the Southside Boat Club in Keokuk.
Owners Randy and Kathy Douglas, now of Utah, Don and Debbie Faulkner, and Dale and his wife Cheryl, are Hamilton, Illinois, friends who, about 10 years ago, conceived the idea that visitors to Nauvoo, Illinois would enjoy outings on the Mississippi River.
Hunt said he wants to provide residents and visitors with an enjoyable, informative and affordable way to enjoy the natural beauty and abundant wildlife of the mighty Mississippi, where rivers of migratory birds travel north and south on the way to migration.
Hunt was charmed recently when he “saw a mink come up along the shore, following the boat I was in”.
Passengers will also learn about the history of the region and the importance of river transport.
“We are very happy to be here and to provide this service to the people of southeast Iowa,” he said.
When can you take a river ride
Visits will take place every day alternating between the three communities.
Burlington will have three weekly tours, to the north side of Burlington Harbor on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Cruises from Fort Madison Riverview Marina will operate on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and Keokuk excursions will depart from its dock every Sunday and Monday.
Cruises will depart at 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 3 p.m., and 5:30 p.m. They will end for the year on September 15, when the marina slip season ends.
“One of the most asked questions I get from visitors is how can they get out on the Mississippi River. Legacy will help answer that question,” said Chelsea Lerud, general manager of the Bureau of Conventions and Events. visitors to Burlington, who said the CVB has been working with the Legacy team for a year, and they “are so passionate about providing a great Mississippi River experience for everyone.”
Tours are “a wonderful new feature for Greater Burlington,” she said. “This new attraction is great for visitors and residents. CVB is excited to support this new venture.”
What you will see on your tour
The pontoon, which will be based at Fort Madison, will be handicapped accessible and is Coast Guard inspected and licensed to accommodate 48 passengers and two crew members.
Tours will have a variety of recorded music, as well as narration.
Keokuk tours, like those on Sunday, will take passengers through Lock and Dam Lock 19, with a historical overview of Keokuk and the construction of the dam.
Burlington cruises will take a close look at the Great River Bridge and the islands while providing a lesson in Mississippi River history.
Fort Madison passengers will learn the history of the first U.S. military fort in the upper Mississippi area and how Fort Madison came to be known as Pen City, and get a waterfront view of the rare historic double-decker bridge swing span bridge.
The company plans to offer special cruises for great views of local fireworks shows, with no dates set yet.
Each cruise costs $30 per person and is free for children 5 and under.
People can also book private charters for parties, family reunions, corporate outings, and other special occasions.
Details on seats, dining options
The bench seat has two rows in the middle outward, and the starboard and port sides each have a bench seat outward. The machine has toilets.
Although the boat does not have food and drink for sale, people can bring their own and tables are available.
Hunt said reservations are preferred, but walk-ins will be accepted.
Some passengers have already registered and reservations have been made for some family outings and class reunions.
The boat was recently built in Florida to US Coast Guard specifications.
Safety devices meet Coast Guard requirements, such as fire extinguishers, life jackets for adults and children, rescue ropes, lights and ladders and cell phones, a transmitter that will reach the Coast Guard, tugs and bridges, and top-down emergency contacts. River.
The company hired three experienced, Coast Guard-licensed captains, one of whom operated a tour boat in Niagara Falls. Captains will call on all weather cancellations, such as when there is lightning.
Hunt said tours were scheduled to begin in 2020, but were cut short by COVID-19-related setbacks.
“The start of Sunday is where we wanted to be last year and we would have been without the pandemic,” he said.
According to tourists, they can add another cruise from Nauvoo. They are also considering adding live music.
Another part of their dream would be to get an extra boat and offer more trips.
“You can always dream, and we all do, can’t we? Hunt said.
To reserve a seat on a cruise, call (319) 759-1311 or visit www.rivertrip.net.