Hotel barge makes shortened stop in Cape

Wednesday, June 9, 2004

The Mississippi River is flooding farmland, covering the southern portion of the new river walk at Riverfront Park and delaying river traffic.

The river level also shortened the stay of the River Explorer, which docked in Cape Girardeau on Tuesday. The riverboat spent a little over two hours in Cape Girardeau, half the time originally scheduled.

Doug Ruth, guest relations coordinator for RiverBarge Excursion Lines Inc., said that the River Explorer arrived late in Cape Girardeau, despite missing an earlier stop because of a closed flood gate. The riverboat traveled slowly because the river is carrying more debris.

"But that is part of the beauty of traveling on the river, it determines your schedule," Ruth said.

The late arrival gave the River Explorer's 56 passengers less time to visit downtown Cape Girardeau and prevented residents from touring the boat.

While the visit was shortened, Edna Pruett, a passenger from Seminole, Fla., said she enjoys visiting towns like Cape Girardeau.

"I really enjoy meeting people along the way," Pruett said. "That's the best part of the trip."

The abbreviated stop was one of 26 riverboat dockings scheduled in Cape Girardeau this year. The River Explorer will dock again in Cape Girardeau on Friday. The Mississippi Queen and the Delta Queen are also scheduled to make stops this year.

Ruth said the River Explorer is different than other steamboats that will dock in Cape Girardeau.

"We are the first and only hotel barge in America," Ruth said. "They are quite popular in Europe, especially on the Rhine River. But we are the only one of our kind here."

The River Explorer was built with two barges that previously carried oil on the river, Ruth said.

The barges may make the River Explorer unusual, but Nancy Baker, from Seminole, Fla., said she enjoys the overall entertainment a river cruise provides.

"I love the opportunity to see so much of America's beauty," Baker said. "The river provides so much beauty and the opportunity to witness it with the friends you make on the cruise. It is just so much fun."

335-6611, extension 127

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