General Jackson Showboat Review – Country Christmas on the Cumberland

by Sami

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I’m a sucker for live music.

Having performed all my life (yes, even including a stint in show choir with big hair & blue eyeshadow), I not only have an affinity for the power of the human voice, but a deep appreciation for just how hard it is to perform for people night after night. Unless you have a true passion for your craft, the audience will see right through you and the show becomes painful for all involved.

The musicians of the General Jackson Showboat are passion personified.

UPDATE: Check out my latest General Jackson Showboat Review

I know, I know…you’re skeptical about going on a boat in the middle of winter to eat banquet food – I was too at first. But more than that, I was intrigued.

You see, my husband’s very first job as a college student in Nashville was aboard the General Jackson Showboat (bet you didn’t see that coming!) and I’ve heard nothing but incredible things from him whenever he reminisces about his experience. Then when we had the privilege to attend the Grand Re-Opening of Opryland Resort in November, we got a sample performance from the GJ’s performers during the lighting ceremony.

When someone can exude such energy and talent in such cold temperatures wearing so little clothing, that’s saying something. Couple that with the unparalleled customer service we experienced when staying at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and I knew that the invitation to sail on the General Jackson was one we just couldn’t pass up.

All that being said, let me get down to business.

The General Jackson Showboat is celebrating its 25th anniversary with two iconic Christmas shows:
*Tim Watson’s Tennessee Christmas (lunch Christmas show)
*A Country Christmas on the Cumberland (evening Christmas show)

Wanting to make a special Christmas memory with multiple generations of our family, we chose the evening show because of the mix of holiday classics and contemporary songs of the season. From the moment we stepped on the boat, we experienced the one-of-a-kind southern hospitality the General Jackson is known for. The overall mood, from the decorations to the crew, was in one word: FESTIVE.

Though we found our table quickly (and there really isn’t a bad seat in the two-story Victorian Theater), we didn’t stay there long as our kids were infatuated with the 36-foot long paddlewheel and kept asking to go outside, despite the 26-degree temperature.

Dinner on the General Jackson

We were also delighted to find that one of our favorite chefs, formerly of Wolfgang Puck Express, was now a chef on the boat! Chef Daniel recommended we start out with a Mambo Combo appetizer as it had something to please everyone in our party.

Our servers, John & Ashley, also greeted us promptly and made a great team throughout the night. They were very present without being pushy, maintained a great mixture of humor and hospitality, and above all, were extremely capable in their respective roles.

When it came to our three-course meal, I again was impressed beyond expectations. We started with a beautifully laid-out family-style salad adorned with rows of assorted fresh vegetables and served with a garlic ranch dressing. Since I’m not a fan of ranch, they accommodated me with blue cheese and my mother-in-law with a lovely white balsamic vinaigrette.

Then came the main course: Pan-seared chicken breasts with roasted potatoes, broccoli florets, and stuffing. It was certainly delicious, but I’d rather spend more time talking about the dessert…

An apple tart with vanilla cream reminiscent of my favorite French pastry. I may or may not have eaten the leftovers off of my children’s plates…

Speaking about kids, they also provided a children’s plate for my 4-year-old son and though we ordered my 6-year-old daughter the same meal as the rest of us, they graciously swapped her roasted potatoes for french fries.

The kids were also enthralled with the entire experience. Though my son didn’t quite make it through the entire three-hour boat ride, my daughter kept fighting off sleep because she didn’t want to miss any of the dresses the girls kept changing into! At one point I leaned over to hear and whispered to her, “What do you think?”

Her response: AMAZING!!!!

General Jackson Dinner Show

After dinner, six very talented singers backed by five equally talented musicians took to the stage and entertained us for over an hour with great harmonies, charming personalities and catchy choreography…not to mention a lot of sequins! The show kept a very fast pace that really held my attention and kept me wondering what was coming next.

Before I knew it we were docking and packing up our souvenir General Jackson coffee mugs! We managed to sneak a few pretty views of the city, but for the most part, just enjoyed making memories around our table on the boat.

With cruises going on throughout this week, I really encourage you to consider making this a part of your family’s Christmas tradition as well. Recently named the “Best Place to Kiss” by the Tennessean, the General Jackson Showboat is a Nashville tradition with a rich history we were proud to be a small part of.

For more information or to book tickets, you can visit or cal 615-458-3900.

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