American Queen Steamboat Company

A CHRISTMAS DOUBLE-TAKE

We see it in the movies all the time, especially in comedies, and almost always in slapstick comedies (a forgotten art form, in our opinion).  A character is walking along and sees something extraordinary. He or she turns their head, looks at something, turns their head back, then is overcome with a puzzled expression and turns to look again. The next look on the face is usually amazement. It’s called the double-take.

To be honest, we’re not sure how much that happens in real life. Usually, if you see (or hear) something so extraordinary, you only turn your head once. It might be so amazing that it takes your brain a few seconds to process what you’re seeing (or hearing), but you usually don’t turn away. If you’re reading a passage that causes the same response, you stop reading, skip back a few lines, and re-read what seemed so astonishing that you’re virtually certain you couldn’t have read it correctly the first time.

All that said, be prepared to skip back a few lines and re-read what we’re about to tell you. Our Old-Fashioned Holidays cruises are immensely popular and usually sell-out quickly. However, we have a limited number of suites and staterooms still available on this year’s December 20, 2013 Christmas cruise as well as a few remaining accommodations on our November 22, November 29 and December 13 departures as well. And to celebrate the spirit of the season, we’re presenting a 2-FOR-1* offer in selected stateroom categories on these voyages if you make your reservations before December 21, 2013. That last sentence is the one you’ll want to stop, go back, and re-read. Yes, we said 2-FOR-1 on certain holiday sailings, even the voyage that encompasses Christmas itself!

On this special journey from New Orleans to Memphis, you can spend Christmas aboard the American Queen which is decked out in holiday Victorian finery and features special traditional menu items and a number of additional perks. Delight in your favorite holiday treats and experience Cajun traditions of the antebellum South. Indulge in a sumptuous New Orleans-style Reveillion Dinner. Literally meaning "awakening," this feast will awaken your senses and celebrate all the joy that Christmas brings. Marvel at the glittering illumination of Cajun bonfires on the levee guiding Papa Noel as he delivers gifts to the Cajun boys and girls. Participate in our Stateroom Door Decorating Contest. We'll bring the decorations, you bring your imagination!

On this special Christmas voyage, you’ll also enjoy a guest and crew tree-trimming social and the unique history and story-telling delivered by our very own Riverlorian, including a special reading of the "Cajun Night Before Christmas." Never heard of it? Then you must not be from Louisiana!

We’re pouring on the entertainment for this voyage as well. In addition to professional showboat-style entertainment featuring the Las Vegas Rat Pack Show, you can also dance nightly to toe-tapping performances by regional performers from Jazz, Blues and Swing to Jug Band and Bluegrass.

Of all the Christmas traditions listed above, the one that seems to enchant our guests the most are the Cajun bonfires on the levees. It is beautiful, impressive and wholly unique. In southern Louisiana, it’s often quite balmy during the holidays so therefore it’s no surprise that many houses don’t have fireplaces and the accompanying chimneys. But as every good (and naughty) child knows, Santa Claus needs a chimney to slide down to bring the holiday presents each year. What to do?

Invent your own version of Santa Claus! The parishes along the Mississippi River created the Cajun version of Santa Claus, dubbed Papa Noel after the French cultural influences. To guide Papa Noel to the houses, huge bonfires made of scrap lumber, packing crates and other wooden structures are built on the levees. On Christmas Eve, they are set alight. Children don’t have to worry about the fires frightening the reindeer, because legend has it that Papa Noel is pulled along by alligators instead.

Though the tradition dates back more than two centuries, the truth is that it wasn’t developed solely to guide Papa Noel on his way. Most likely, the bonfires were a way for the French and German immigrants of the time to guide parishioners to church for the customary Christmas Eve services. Today, the tradition results in hundreds of bonfires along the river and they aren’t just the triangular shapes of years past. Some pay homage to the French with a fleur-de-lis while others are shaped as paddlewheels, football helmets and snowflakes. Some are adorned with fireworks that lend even more color to the festivities.

As you can imagine, there’s no better way to see the bonfires along the river than from the river itself. And we promise you that if the little Cajun holiday infernos on the levees don’t cause you to do a double-take, then our 2-FOR-1* offer certainly will.

Don’t forget to visit the American Queen Steamboat Company Facebook Page for the latest news, photos and lively discussions about the American Queen, Mississippi River cruising and our ports of call. Check out our Twitter page, and follow @CruiseAQSC.

*Offer expires December 21, 2013 and is valid on new bookings only. Not valid on Group bookings and may not be combined with other offers. The 2-for-1 offer means first passenger in cabin pays full cruise fare and second passenger pays no cruise fare. Cruise fare does not include taxes, port charges, insurance, gratuities, or airfare. Only cabin categories of C,D,E,F,G,H and I are available for this offer and only on these 2013 voyage dates: 11/22, 11/29, 12/13, 12/20. Additional terms and conditions may apply - call for details.

Posted under: Featured Journey
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