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Belle of Cincinnati in town for riverboat cruises

Jul. 23, 2009 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- The Belle of Cincinnati, with 220 passengers on board, departed from Harris Riverfront Park on Wednesday afternoon for the first of four cruises along the Ohio River.

An evening dinner cruise also sailed out Wednesday night, and tickets are still available for today's lunch and dinner cruises.

Cruise Director Terri Bernstein said the cruises include a good meal and a great view for a reasonable price. Prices, not including sales tax and port charge, range from $15.95 to $37.95.

"Everybody who's been on board so far has been giving great comments about how much fun it is," Bernstein said. "It doesn't get much better than the river and scenery around it."

Karen Mufson-Kleckner and her family is in town from Chicago visiting her parents. She said it's the first time they have gotten to take a day cruise.

"We came in for the week, and mom saw the advertisement and bought the tickets," she said. "Just looking forward to relaxing and the scenery."

The afternoon cruise included numerous families with young children. There were three children and six adults with the Queen family, including two 13-year-olds, a 5-year-old and a 4-year-old.

"They've never been on the Ohio River," said Patty Dyer, one of the family members on the trip. "It's their first trip on the Ohio River and on a paddleboat."

The Belle, which is the flagship for BB Riverboats, is nearing completion of a 12-day summer cruise tour that includes Charleston, Gallipolis, Ohio, and Huntington. It will offer cruises on Friday, July 24, and Saturday, July 25, in Ironton. It finishes Sunday, July 26, in Maysville, Ky.

"We are excited to be bringing the Belle of Cincinnati to all of these great river cities this summer," said Alan Bernstein, owner of BB Riverboats in a written release before the tour started. "It's very nostalgic traveling from city to city and entertaining the residents of each individual community. It's a lot like the old steamboat days."

Besides Alan Bernstein's narrative about the Ohio River and the boat, passengers also are likely to see is Tamie Foltz, one of company's other cruise directors. She has worked for the company on and off since 1996. She said the staff really works to make sure passengers are having fun, whether out on the deck enjoying the view or lounging around inside.

"You see how everyone reacts," Foltz said. "It's like we're all family."

The crew is like family, she added, since they sleep on blowup mattresses on the first floor during overnight trips.

"There's just one shower, and we all fight for it," she joked.

For more information or to make a reservation, call 800-261-8586 or visit www.bbriverboats.com.

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