Gail Bryant, director of the Hannibal Convention & Visitors Bureau, is a relatively new Mississippi River watcher. But in a little over a year’s time, Bryant has learned not to fret about the river. Consequently, while others wondered if low river levels south of St. Louis might keep the American Queen and Queen of the Mississippi riverboats from reaching Hannibal in the weeks ahead, Bryant took everything in stride.
“The river level has been a source of discussion ever since riverboats have docked at the port of Hannibal; from Mark Twain’s time to the present,” she said. “In years past the American Queen could sometimes not dock because of high water or debris, and it occasionally even had to overnight in Hannibal because of water levels. When you are dealing with a waterway, there is always that variable. It is to be expected.”
Thus far the Queen of the Mississippi, scheduled to arrive in Hannibal early Sunday morning, Sept. 2, has been operating south of St. Louis, where low river levels have at times impacted shipping. Bryant quotes a spokesman for American Cruise Lines as saying that thus far the vessel has had “virtually no issues” cruising on the lower Mississippi.
Even the larger American Queen has had no problems, according to Bryant.
“The larger, Memphis-based American Queen tweaked its schedule to stay out of congested waters south of Memphis, treating passengers instead to more time on the Cumberland River,” she said. “An American Queen spokesman said low water on the Cumberland allows the 435-passenger ship to traverse areas normally obstructed by low bridges.”
An American Queen spokesman reports that ship isn’t scheduled to venture south of Memphis again until November.
“The ship could have made the trip to Vicksburg, but operators didn’t want to take a chance on getting trapped in a lineup of stalled barges,” said Bryant.