Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: RiverBarge
Ship: River Explorer
Sailing Date: July 16th, 2002
Itinerary: St. Louis to Cincinnati
My wife and I recently returned home after an extraordinary cruise aboard the River Explorer from St. Louis to Cincinnati. Having cruised aboard one of the paddlewheelers several years ago, we were quick to notice the differences between it and the River Explorer. We were also quick to appreciate the superiority of the crew and the experience they provide, from the moment we stepped out of our car at the St. Louis waterfront where two crewmembers assisted my elderly mother aboard, to the speedy check-in that found us unpacking in our staterooms within minutes. Once under way, we were impressed by the relaxed but friendly service in the galley, the fun of the sky deck, and the excitement of watching our progress from the Bridge Observation lounge. We especially appreciated how the shore visits and evening entertainments were carefully selected to give a uniquely and appropriately tailored flavor to the cruise. Smaller river towns and regional music made this special. One of the “lagniappes” , or special extras, is the room television that features two special channels: a closed circuit view from the bow, (so that even after we retired for the night, or rested from the day’s heat in our stateroom, we could watch the Explorer’s progress around the next bend or through one of the locks on the Ohio), and a second channel that shows a GPS view of the boat’s exact location. Great idea! We were impressed by a young deckhand who came to the aid of an elderly resident of Henderson, Kentucky, who had come down to the waterfront to take a picture of the River Explorer and had fallen on the hard pavement. She was bleeding profusely from a cut on her forehead and trembling. While others called 911 for local assistance, our deck hand used his shirt as a compress, comforted and reassured the woman and stayed at her side until the ambulance arrived. Only then did he return to the Explorer as we were already preparing to leave, embarrassed by our applause. But our greatest appreciation and respect for the crew is for the way everyone handled a medical emergency that occurred one night shortly after midnight. My mother was struck ill unexpectedly and the crew didn’t hesitate to respond instantly and efficiently. In minutes, an emergency landing was arranged at a small boat dock where paramedics were waiting. The deck crew quickly tied up and helped evacuate us and our luggage. As per company policy, we were accompanied to a regional hospital by Janice, one of the Explorer’s Pursers. Janice stayed at our side until Mom was diagnosed, treated and released. More amazingly, she arranged for us to reboard the Explorer further up river and we were able to resume our cruise! Everyone of the crew involved was magnificent: Program Coordinator Doug Ruth’s cool and efficient handling of the emergency , Dorothy (bartender from the Skydeck’s Bridge Bar) whose medical training provided early care, the Captain’s skill (and willingness) to locate and then make the difficult and unexpected stop, the deck hands who assisted without question and Purser Janice’s unflagging assistance ashore. Doug had said at the first orientation meeting in the Sprague theater that the crew and staff wanted to make us feel like this was home. At the time we thought that was just the usual promotional hype. But we cannot otherwise describe the feeling that morning when we saw the Explorer approaching out of the mist and knew that within the hour we would be back on board, instead of sitting around a hospital waiting room . We were home! We are sold on the RiverBarge Exclusion Line and its amazing staff. We will return to the river and to the River Explorer.