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Belle of Cincinnati to make annual Tri-State trip with cruises out of Huntington, Ashland and Portsmouth

By DAVE LAVENDER

The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Folks have seen it the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, at the Centennial Festival of Riverboats, at the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee, and every seasonal weekend, plying the Ohio River waters between Newport, Ky., and Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Belle of Cincinnati heads up the Ohio River from Huntington’s Harris Riverfront Park in 2016.
(Photo by Anthony Davis)

But this week, the Belle of Cincinnati is all ours as BB Riverboats owner and Capt. Alan Bernstein and a crew of about 25 make their way upriver with stops Thursday through Sunday in such Tri-State river cities as Portsmouth, Ohio, Ashland, Ky., and Huntington, W.Va., and then stops at Maysville, Ky., Monday and Tuesday on the way back to Cincinnati.

The flagship of BB Riverboats, the Belle of Cincinnati has lavish Victorian decor on three climate-controlled decks with seating for up to 700 people, and has full bars, buffet restaurant seating, elevator access,as well as an open-air top deck.

Capt. Alan Berstein previously told The Herald-Dispatch that the crew loves making its annual trip out of Cincinnati, where they host lots of themed trips from craft brew cruises to Pirate-themed adventures, to some of the smaller Ohio River cities in the region.

“It is sort of like a modern day Mark Twain kind of thing where you get to a lot of little towns like Maysville, Kentucky, and you see how a little town operates,” Bernstein said. “Everybody who goes on these trips when we get back they say that was really a great experience and we enjoy coming to these river towns. It is sort of like the circus coming to town where they are coming down and taking pictures and asking you were you’re from and where you are going.”

Interestingly, Bernstein said he’s got a particular soft spot for Huntington as it is home to the Huntington-based U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“We see a lot of little towns but Huntington is not a small town and you’ve got great amenities there like Pullman Square and some really nice restaurants,” Bernstein said. “Huntington is a really neat place that has a lot of energy with a lot of people downtown and it is sort of unique. Most people say they like Chicago and New York and L.A., but I happen to love all of these river towns.”

While Bernstein said he loves being on the river, he also loves sharing that experience with folks who may not get out on the river save for a ride on the Belle, and connecting them to the history-rich feeling of floating on the river.

“It is a modern day way to get a good sense of what the settlers had to endure when they decided they were going to leave where they were from and float down this river and find a new place to live and for most of them it was a one-way trip and there is a natural beauty that goes when you leave a city and go out in the wilderness and that is really exceptional,” Bernstein said. “The Ohio River is a beautiful thing to experience. I get to do it all the time and I never get tired of it and true river people don’t get tired of it. When you go on a cruise you want to watch the river go by and wave at the people on the bank. To me it is a very mind boggling to think that people had the guts to get on a raft made of trees and float on the river to find a new place to live. We’ve got a modern day boat with engines and radar and all the modern day equipment. I sit in that pilot house thinking what it would have been like to do that, no radio, no radar, those people just had guts.”

Here’s a look at the cruises that the Belle of Cincinnati is offering in the Tri-State this week:

Thursday, July 20 in Portsmouth for a 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. dinner cruise.

Friday, July 21 in Portsmouth for a noon lunch cruise, a 3:30 p.m. sightseeing cruise and a 7:30 p.m. dinner cruise.

Saturday, July 22 in Ashland for a noon lunch cruise, a 3:30 p.m. sightseeing cruise and a 7:30 p.m. dinner cruise.

Monday, July 24 in Maysville, Kentucky, for a 7:30 p.m. dinner cruise.

Tuesday, July 25 in Maysville, Kentucky, for a noon lunch cruise.

Cost for the lunch/brunch cruises is $37 ($20 non-meal) and children $22 ($11 non-meal).

Sightseeing cruises are $20 and $11 for children while dinner cruises are $45 ($24 non-meal) and $28 for kids ($14 non-meal).

Boarding times are one hour before the brunch, lunch and dinner cruises and 30 minutes before sight-seeing cruises.

Go online at www.bbriverboats.com or call 800-261-8586 or 859-261-8500.

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