Celebration Belle Cruises Continue Despite River Levels - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Celebration Belle Cruises Continue Despite River Levels

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There are HESCO barriers and sandbags up in downtown areas in several QCA river communities. Many are still seeing some flooding on the streets, and are forced to stay off the water during holiday weekend because of it. The Mississippi river levels are going down, but boaters are advised not to go out onto the water just yet. The Celebration Belle is an exception. Crews haven't had to cancel any of their cruises, despite some concerns from passengers.

A ride along the Mississippi River is a 4th of July weekend tradition for many families from in and out of town. It's a new, meaningful experience for some.

"We're up here for my mom's bucket list," said Gary Reinartz from Minnesota. "She has stage four cancer, and she doesn't have much time, so we're doing this for her."

Flooding and rain didn't stop more than 160 passengers from boarding Saturday.

"We were surprised that the boat was running with the river flooded, but found out it was, so here we are," passenger Jan King said.

On Saturday at 2 PM, the water was around 20.73 feet deep, which is down slightly from the week's peak. Celebration Belle captain Mike Menard says the water is safe to navigate.

"It really doesn't affect us," he said. "In fact, we have the whole river to ourselves.

At 196 feet long and 46 feet wide, the Celebration Belle is one of the largest excursion boats on the upper Mississippi River. It can handle the high water and current.

"Every pool is different, so it's more of a concern of higher flooding in different areas below certain lock and dams," Captain Menard said. "This pool is pretty stable, so we're still able to operate, even at the high floods."

With a lot of room in the pool, the big boat is able to steer away from debris. Crews say they've seen everything from full sized trees to tires float by over the last five days. As water levels slowly go down, so do the amount of miscellaneous items on the water.

Meanwhile, the captain can focus on sharing the river's rich history, and passengers can soak it all up.

"I think it's great despite the rain," Reinartz said. "It's a great city. I love it."

The Celebration Belle can fit up to 800 passengers and offers cruises throughout most of the year. It's going to take about another week to get below flood stage. Cruises are scheduled to continue.

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