Now that is strange.
I can assure you that the American Queen is indeed a paddle wheeler. At least she was when we took "The Cruise from Hell" on her in 2001. I'm thinking that they must have had a problem of some sort with the paddle wheel, and are relying on the Z-Drives to power her. The Z-drives are two props that are 5' in diameter, and can turn 360*. They help with steering, and are capable of powering the boat without needing the paddle wheel.
"The Cruise from Hell" was from 6/9/2001 to 6/14/2001 and was to go from Memphis to St. Louis.
The Mississippi was flooding, and a couple of the stops we were supposed to make were underwater, so we bypassed them. We did some extra 'cruising', and at Cairo IL, we turned up the Ohio river heading for Paducah Ky.
We were not too far from Paducah and I was at the Calliope Bar at the aft end. All of a sudden the whole aft end of the boat jumped! We had hit a big log and it damaged one of the Z-Drives and jammed up against the rudders.
We limped into Paducah, and when we were going to leave, we had to wait. The Capt. said that the Coastguard had decided that the Queen needed some 'help' just for safety, and that we were waiting for a towboat to come and give us some help.
The crew was busy using a cutting torch to cut off the railings on the port side so the towboat could tie up to us.
After awhile the towboat showed up with two barges. They tied it up and off we went. Not 10 minutes later we heard a big 'bang' as the line they used broke. The re-tied in a different way, and off we went again. That time it held.
As we neared Cairo, the Capt. came on the speakers and said that the towboat was going to leave us for a bit to drop off one of the barges, and would came back in a short time.
Sure enough, off they went. Meanwhile the Queen continued down river a bit and then turned so we were facing upriver, and we were witness to some outstanding helmsman ship by not one but two Captains.
The Queen was sitting stationary in relation to the bank, pointing up river, and the tug came around, and parked right next to the Queen while they tied up to us again. It was great to see a couple of professionals at work.
We then turned down river, and then up the Mississippi again.
Around midnight I went to the cabin. I woke up in the morning and something just didn't 'feel right'.
I looked out the cabin door, and found that we were docked in Cairo!
I went for some coffee, and by the time I got back to the cabin, there was a note taped to it saying, that "For the safety of the passengers, crew, and boat, that they had decided to return to Paducah, where repairs would be done to the Z-Drive, and that we would be bussed to St Louis, so we could catch our flights home".
I had been hobnobbing with a lot of the crew, especially the guys down in the engine room which we could visit, and I learned that the REAL reason that we came back was that at around 2:30 AM, a lady in the galley had slipped an fallen while carrying a big pan of pastries, and dislocated her knee. The closest place for medical attention for her was back in Cairo. At that point we were too far away from St. Louis to catch out flights, so it was off to Paducah again so we could catch the busses.
They also changed the Itinerary and instead of heading back up the Mississippi, the Queen was going to go up the Ohio to Pittsburgh and return.
We found out later that since Cincinnati was where we were going to, that we could have stayed on the Queen, and debarked at home instead of flying back!
Just before we got to Paducah, and still out of sight from the dock, the tow boat left up. I think that was the Captains call as he didn't want to be seen coming into port with the tow boat helping
It was, for a lot of folks "The Cruise from Hell", but I enjoyed every second of it, especially the part after hitting the log, because we saw and did things that no other cruise had ever done.
Edited by OldBuzzard, July 13, 2014 - 08:15 PM.