Sunday, July 1, 2012

Branson Belle

Taking the two-hour dinner cruise on the Showboat Branson Belle was going to be the perfect ending to our last, fun-filled day in the music capital of the heartland. Thus, my friend and I were eager to get to the boat early and enjoy it as much as possible.

We picked up our tickets at the box office at the White River Landing, situated near the entrance to the showboat and alongside the shores of Table Rock Lake. There, we found a couple of specialty shops that begged for our attention. 

Inside the Layton Mercantile, we found stylish clothing, sunglasses and hats, custom jewelry, gourmet coffees, decadent candies and more. Next door, at McAdoo's Boatworks, we found unique nautical souvenirs, t-shirts, jackets and caps. Needless to say, a couple of "must-haves" were bought before we moved on toward the boat ramp.

We boarded the Branson Belle just before four in the afternoon. Immediately, we were taken by the beauty of the boat, as well as its size - 78 feet wide and 265 feet long. We checked out all three levels. We found the captain's wheelhouse on the top deck and the engine room and kitchen on the low deck. 

Next, we made our way to the showboat theater and to our assigned seats on the fourth row. We were greeted by Viva, our waitress, who took our beverage orders. Offered were iced water, iced tea and pink lemonade. (No alcoholic beverages are served on the Branson Belle.)

A comedic pre-show started as the servers brought out our green salads (splashed with a delicious sweet Vidalia onion dressing) and continued off-and-on until we finished our entrees (roast beef, honey-dijon glazed chicken, garlic mashed potatoes and fresh sugar snap snow peas with julienne carrots) and desserts (golden brittle lemon-berry tortes drizzled with caramel). 

The pre-show was a bonus we had not planned on, and it added much to the night's enjoyment. 

After dinner, we were encouraged to go outside for awhile (about 20 minutes) and enjoy the panoramic views of the lush Ozark Mountains and turquoise waters of Table Rock Lake from the various decks. We did, and it was delightful.

When we returned to our seats, the show, Made In The USA, began! 

The show was hosted by the two-time Branson Comedian of the Year, David Hirschi (as Slim Chance), and featured The ShowBelles (a four-member, all-female quartet), Master Pianist Julie McClarey and Champion Fiddler Dean Church. Each was backed by the showboat's own live band, The Castaways. All gave stellar performances!

Each musical moment in Made In The USA was a fitting salute to our country. Together, they stirred deep feelings of patriotism in all of us and made us proud (all over again) to be Americans! It was, truly, a beautiful thing!

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