General Jackson

John and Stephanie Jones enjoy the view from the General Jackson Showboat as they cruise on the Cumberland River on March 5.

Mary Hance, aka Ms. Cheap, writes about good sales and free and affordable things to do in Middle Tennessee, plus creative ways to be good stewards of our hard-earned money.

With so many events and attractions remaining virtual because of the pandemic, it is good news that the General Jackson Showboat is back in action, and even better that there is a 20% discount on cruises in April.

The Jackson, Gaylord Opryland’s grand paddlewheeler, has a new spring schedule with lunch and dinner cruises that take guests 7 miles along the Cumberland River to downtown Nashville and back to its riverside dock in the Gaylord Opryland complex.

“We’re excited to welcome guests back on board the General Jackson Showboat this spring, just as the Tennessee weather begins to warm up again,” General Manager Patrick Walker said. He said the 20% off deal is valid on all April cruises with code SOCIALGJ at

All-inclusive prices for the cruises, which include a meal and an hourlong live show — “The Tennessee Legends,” which pays tribute to famous musicians who have roots in Tennessee, including Dolly Parton and Elvis Presley — range from $67 to $99, depending on which cruise and seating option you choose.

There is also a lower rate for children under 12 and a Captain’s Table option that is more expensive and includes a tour of the pilothouse and some other upgrades.

With the 20% discount, the adult midday cruise ticket would be $53.60 instead of $67, and the evening cruise ticket that was $94 would be $75.20.

And, if you are looking for the lowest price ticket (as Ms. Cheap surely might) you could take the midday cruise and opt out of the meal for $45. (There is a “no meal” option on both cruises, but it is not subject to the April discount.)

The Jackson does not allow outside food, but why not just eat before you go and save on your ticket?

No matter which cruise you choose, be sure to take time to explore this grand boat, which is an authentic paddlewheeler. I suggest spending part of your time just relaxing on one of the decks and enjoying the unique views of Nashville from the river vantage point.

I mean, how often do you get to see the beautiful Nashville skyline from the Cumberland River?

Or when have you been able to stand behind a working paddlewheel and watch it churn the river to push the massive boat on its way?

I really believe the riverboat experience alone is worth the cost of the ticket — with a nice discount, of course.

Back in action

The Jackson resumed its cruise schedule in early March after almost a year of being docked during the pandemic.

Presently, the Jackson is limiting its passenger count to 250, rather than the 1,000 passengers it is normally rated for. The current cruise schedule offers midday cruises on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and evening cruises on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Officials say they hope to expand the schedule as protocols allow.

Another change is that the cruises offer a three-course plated meal rather than a buffet.

The lunch menu includes a salad, chicken, whipped potatoes, green beans and lemon poppy seed pound cake. The dinner menu features braised short ribs and shrimp, grits and green beans with lemon poppy seed pound cake.

Cruise prices include taxes and fees. The General Jackson shares a parking lot with Opry Mills and there is no charge for parking. For more information or reservations, see

About the General Jackson

The General Jackson Showboat, which is one of the largest showboats ever built, is named after the first steamboat to operate on the Cumberland River in 1817. It was built by Indiana-based Jeffboat, was launched April 20, 1985, and was christened July 2, 1985. The boat can hold 1,000 passengers and up to 172 crew members. The paddlewheel riverboat stands 77 feet tall and 300 feet long, making it one of the country’s largest showboats. The paddlewheel itself is 36 feet long, 24 feet wide and weighs 36 tons. The vessel has a maximum speed of 13 mph.

Mary Hance, who has four decades of journalism experience in the Nashville area, writes a weekly Ms. Cheap column. She also appears on Thursdays on “Talk of the Town” on NewsChannel 5. Reach her at and follow her on Facebook at

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