Riverboat cruising returns to the Mississippi with American Queen

By Jayne Clark, USA TODAY

As the American Queen paddle wheeler steams toward the city early one morning last week, all eyes turn toward Richard and Suzanne Martinez, who are strolling onto the boat’s forward deck resplendent in antebellum finery.

She’s a sweet Southern belle in hoop skirt hoisting a floral parasol. He’s a riverboat dandy in broad-brimmed planter’s hat and rhinestone horseshoe pin. Suzanne bought the get-ups on eBay to wear on the occasion of the venerated steamboat’s return to the river for the first time since 2008. But the Tavares, Fla., retirees figure they’ll get plenty of wear out of the costumes as they pursue and wave at riverboats from the banks of the upper Mississippi.

“We’ve been doing it for years,” Suzanne says.

“So, you’re, like, steamboat stalkers?” asks a fellow passenger unacquainted with the proclivities of hard-core riverboat fans.

Read More: Riverboat cruising returns to the Mississippi with American Queen

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