Residents of the Midwest mark the passage of four seasons — winter, spring, summer and fall. The Hannibal Convention & Visitors Bureau identifies another important period of time — riverboat season.

Residents of the Midwest mark the passage of four seasons – winter, spring, summer and fall. The Hannibal Convention & Visitors Bureau identifies another important period of time – riverboat season.

Thursday afternoon, Hannibal's 2015 riverboat season draws to an end when the Queen of the Mississippi paddles into town. According to the HCVB's website — www.visithannibal.com – the boat will pull in at 2 p.m.

“As we have done for past dockings, we would like to invite the community to join us at Glascock’s Landing to help welcome passengers,” said Gail Bryant, director of the HCVB.

The Queen of the Mississippi's arrival will mark the 22nd docking of one of the big riverboats this season, which Bryant reports is an “increase from previous years.”

Because riverboat season typically doesn't begin until July, this year's high water did not cost the city many visits, according to Bryant.

“We lost the first docking this year because the riverboat was not able to cruise upriver due to higher river levels in the St. Louis area,” she said.

While an exact count of riverboat guests to Hannibal this year is not available, Bryant says over 4,000 welcome bags have been distributed to passengers. She added that in many instances couples only take a single welcome bag.

America's Hometown continues to be a popular stopping point during the Mississippi River cruises.

“The passengers returning to the riverboat after their stay in Hannibal and the crew from the excursion companies have shared with us that Hannibal is one of the favorite ports to stop,” said Bryant. “In the past, visitors were disappointed they didn't have more time in Hannibal; they addressed that with the companies and they have changed their docking schedules accordingly.”

On Thursday, the Queen of the Mississippi is due to remain on the riverfront for four hours.

As important as it is to have people on shore to greet the visitors when the disembark, it's also essential to provide the passengers with information about what Hannibal has to offer. That is why the HCVB staff hustles to get one of the city's visitor's guides in the hands of guests either before they arrive or at arrival.

“The Hannibal visitor guide has the information on attractions, maps and other must-see things to do while visiting Hannibal,” said Bryant. “The riverboats sometimes provide maps and information to their passengers, but we have experienced inconsistencies with building locations on riverboat-created maps in the past, so we like to make sure they have information directly from the Convention and Visitors Bureau. The guide is also convenient to carry home with resources for planning a return visit.”

Currently, visiting riverboats arrive in Hannibal with passengers already on board. During Tuesday's HCVB Board meeting, Bryant was asked about having Hannibal become a boarding point for passengers.

“We believe anything is possible; however, at this time the riverboat schedules for 2016 and 2017 are pretty much in place. We will broach that in our discussions for future dockings to see if it could become a reality,” said Bryant.

 Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com .