The rivers of America are a great source of history and culture. In order to share and enlighten our guests of all of the uniqueness within our ports of call, we decided we needed a storyteller of the river and someone well versed in the history of river travel – we needed a Riverlorian.
This position is a special one to us, one that sets our river cruises apart from others and enhances the guest experience. Our Riverlorians are very intelligent and well-versed in the history of the places to which we travel, sharing stories and information with guests on a daily basis. They hold River Chats, provide daily information about the town or city in which we are visiting and offer presentations to learn more. Onboard, guests can borrow books on the topic to read at their leisure, as well as binoculars, to witness the wildlife and natural beauty as it slowly passes by. Additionally there are bicycles on each vessel, that allow guests to explore the port of call at their own pace, seeing the areas of the town that interest them most. We have several, very passionate crew members as our Riverlorians, who have read, studied and researched for countless hours on the topic, and are always ready and willing to share their knowledge.
Below you can find a Q and A with Riverlorian, Jerry Hay, on the American Queen.
What does a normal day look like for you onboard?
I rise early and check the weather, then join other early risers in the chart room. Each day I have a Riverlorian Chat in the Grand Saloon with a different topic, depending on where we are. I also provide pilot house tours, introduce guest speakers and attend various receptions. Most of my time is spent in the chart room answering questions and announcing interesting this along the river.
What is the best part about your job as a Riverlorian?
I really enjoy the passengers. They are intelligent curious people who are interested in all aspects of the river and steamboating.
What made you want to become a Riverlorian?
I had already spent many years on the river in various capacities and loved the idea of sharing my knowledge and stories aboard the largest and most elegant steamboat in the world.
What is the most memorable experience onboard as a Riverlorian?
That is a hard question but the first thing that comes to mind is my portrayal of Capt. William Clark of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, since that was the most famous and important river journey in American history.
Which topic that you discuss is most interesting to you and why?
Having traveled many of the rivers of the Mississippi River basin, I am most interested in that subject, being such a large river system that I can directly relate to. I know river history because I have studied it. I know rivers because I have done it.
You could work on any ship in the entire world – why did you choose this one?
The American Queen is a special vessel, being not only the largest steamboat ever built but also the only operating overnight passenger steamboat in the U.S.
What are your favorite little-known Mississippi River facts?
Most people believe that the Mississippi River is the longest river in the U.S. but the Missouri River is longer, even thought it is a tributary to the Mississippi. The Mississippi Delta is much more than that land below New Orleans. It is a vast area from southern Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico.
If you could give future travelers one tip for getting the most out of their cruise, what would it be?
Bring loose fitting clothes for use toward the end of the cruise. The food is fantastic.