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Cruise the Heartland

Whether it’s island hopping on Lake Erie or watching baby eagles play from the deck of a steamboat, cruising adventures in the Heartlands deliver moments of both decadent relaxation and excitement.

Groups can almost handpick their desired scenery and length of trip with the numerous cruising options. From a joy ride through Iowa’s limestone bluffs to a historic excursion at Mark Twain’s birthplace, boating trips through the Heartlands attract passengers seeking a memorable escape from the busyness of everyday life.

Goodtime I

Sandusky, Ohio

A horizon of seemingly endless water, sandy beaches and a contagious laid-back attitude helped give Ohio’s Kelleys Island and Put-in-Bay the nickname the Key West of the Midwest. One of the most popular ways for groups to experience this Lake Erie destination is aboard Goodtime I.

The family-owned, two-deck vessel offers a Daytime Island Hopping Cruise, where passengers depart Sandusky at 9:30 a.m. for a day of sightseeing on the two islands. Along the route, the captain will relate stories from the area, such as the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812, which led to an important victory over the British.

Guests can enjoy free time at Kelleys Island and Put-in-Bay to explore either on foot, by golf cart or on bicycle. Kelleys Island offers a natural setting with ancient glacial grooves, rocky shoreline and a state park beach with kayak rentals. Put-in-Bay features a more active stop with businesses, restaurants and shops to browse.

Twilight Riverboat

Le Claire, Iowa

Because of the stealthy way the Twilight Riverboat glides through the water, passengers can watch eagles building their nests and taking care of their young on one of the vessel’s numerous tours down the Upper Mississippi River. Tours aboard the replicated Victorian steamboat depart from Le Claire, Iowa, and run as short as 90 minutes or as long as two days.

The popular two-day cruise to Dubuque departs early with a continental breakfast waiting on passengers. The ship’s captain points out wildlife, limestone bluffs at Pallisades State Park, the Julien Dubuque Monument and historic river towns. Those wanting more than the scenery can enjoy live entertainment, games and snacks served onboard.

The group overnights in Dubuque’s Grand Harbor Resort. The next day, visitors enjoy some included tours of Dubuque and the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium before returning to the ship on its way back to Le Claire.

A new tour for 2016, the 90-minute sightseeing cruise allows boxed lunches, but otherwise focuses on the views from the old-fashioned riverboat.