The Kentucky Derby is only a couple months away. For most people it’s a couple minutes of horse racing on Mother’s Day weekend. This year it will be run for the 139th time. For people who actually attend the event, it is both a hat fashion extravaganza and a horse race. Expanding the view even more, it’s a series of activities leading up to the main event. And that’s where cruising comes into the picture.
On the Wednesday before the Kentucky Derby, two and sometimes three steamboats have been having a Kentucky Derby river cruise, racing from Louisville, Kentucky and Jefferson, Indiana. This year will be the fiftieth anniversary of this ever popular challenge. The idea of the race actually dates back to the 1800s, when steamships used to regularly race themselves on the Mississippi. Now it is really just for fun. The race is generally done by local steamboats that do day tours. Occasionally, larger ships such as the American Queen participate in the race. The Delta Queen had participated several times prior to being retired. Due to Scheduling, the American Queen is going to be doing southern Mississippi cruises during may, so maybe next year. At some point the Queen of the Mississippi may join the race, but so far not yet. The larger ships often include party packages and attendance at the Kentucky Derby when they are in the steamboat race.
Be sure to check early ( starting in July or August of the year prior) if you want to be on one of the passenger boats for the Kentucky Derby. They don’t do it every year, and they tend to fill up quickly. Let’s see what happens in 2014.