America’s Rivers and Great Lakes
In America’s heartland, several TAP tours use riverboats and other vessels to give groups a distinctive view of local lakes and riverfronts. One of the tours, called America’s River and Great Lake, includes trips on two boats along the way.
The trip is operated by TAP partner Tri-State Travel and begins with two days in Chicago.
“That trip includes transportation on Lake Michigan and on the Mississippi River, and it gives people a good look at water transportation,” said Tri-State’s David Lange. “In Chicago, we have a sightseeing cruise that goes both on Lake Michigan and the Chicago River.”
The cruise takes place on a vessel operated by the Wenella Boat Company. Crewmembers provide live narration, pointing out architectural highlights of the Chicago skyline and sharing some of the area’s history as well.
After the Chicago visit, travelers transfer to Moline, Illinois, by motorcoach. They spend two nights in Moline and then embark on a daylong Mississippi River excursion on the Celebration Belle.
“That’s a 100-mile cruise from LeClaire to Dubuque, Iowa,” Lange said. “You pass a variety of communities as you travel north along the Mississippi River. You get three meals on that, along with musical entertainment and narration along the way.”
After the cruise, travelers spend two nights in Dubuque and visit the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, where they can learn more about the flora, fauna and fish of America’s great river.
A love for exploration and a sense of independence has compelled hundreds of thousands Americans to dive into the world of recreational vehicle travel. Many of those folks have begun to find the joy of traveling together in RV caravans and rallies.
TAP offers numerous RV experiences and events, which are organized by partner Adventure Caravans. The tours combine the independence of the RV lifestyle with the convenience of packaged travel.
“It’s still about your freedom,” said Adventure Caravans president Brian Fearon. “You have the benefits of the group travel at attractions along the way, but it’s your decision how fast you’re going to drive or what you’re going to stop and see. We do all the planning, buy all the tickets and get seats at all of the shows.”
Participants can bring their own vehicles or rent one to use during the tour. They stay at campgrounds along the way, where they can mix and mingle with other group members. Each group is led by an RV team called the “wagon masters,” and another pair called the “tail gunners” is on hand to help with any mechanical problems or other travel issues.
Fearon’s company takes RV groups across North America and to exotic destinations as well. The company started by leading caravans to Mexico and then began taking trips into Alaska. Today, it offers RV experiences in Central America, Australia, Europe and even Africa.
“Alaska is our most popular destination,” Fearon said. “Alaska is that frontier idea — there’s not a lot up there, and you don’t know what you’re going to do there if you go alone. Group travel in RVs to Alaska is very popular.”