Ohio River cruises are stopping regularly in Evansville for the first time in decades.
American Cruise Lines is scheduled to dock its American Heritage riverboat at Inland Marina eight times between July 13 and Sept. 25. Officials with Explore Evansville say they are receiving positive feedback from passengers and crew members.
About 100 passengers typically are aboard when the riverboat docks, and two-hour excursions are offered to Wesselman Park, the Evansville Wartime Museum, or John James Audubon State Park in Henderson, Kentucky.
“We’ve heard a lot of people say they want to come back,” says L’Oreal Mitchell, Explore Evansville’s assistant director of sales.
Rather than take an excursion, some passengers and crew opt to enjoy a meal at KC’s Marina Pointe restaurant. Explore Evansville stations ambassadors, ready to greet and assist the guests.
Next year’s calendar of stops is in the works. Mitchell says Explore Evansville has spoken with American Cruise Lines about making excursions longer, allowing other attractions to receive visitors.
Mitchell says Explore Evansville wants to attract additional cruise lines, and it remains a goal to have a riverboat permanently docked in Evansville, where it would be available to local groups and organizations.
“That is one of the things we have heard over and over again, getting a boat here,” says Mitchell, who came to Explore Evansville from Louisville, Kentucky. “I think it would benefit the community. I spent years on the Belle of Louisville, and I’ve seen first-hand what it can do.”
How long has Evansville gone without river- boat activity? According to Explore Evansville records, the Delta Queen made a stop in 2008, but the city hasn’t seen significant riverboat activity since the 1970s.