This series of Everyday Conversations is about a family traveling to each of the 50 states in the U.S. Join the family members as they learn about local pastimes and history. These conversations are for intermediate-level English-language learners or higher.

The family takes a river cruise on a steamboat down the Mississippi River.


Claudine: That was close!

Sam: I didn’t think we would make it on board in time.

Gina: And now we can sit back and enjoy the cruise.

Claudine: I didn’t think a steamboat would be so big — or so elegant.

Paul: This is one of the best steamboat cruises down the Mississippi.

Gina: I think you only chose this one because they serve Mississippi mud pie.

Paul: That definitely was a factor, but I think they serve it on all of the different cruises.

Now let’s review the vocabulary.

The phrase that was close is used when something bad almost happens, but is avoided. In this conversation, that was close is used to mean that the family almost missed the boat, but didn’t.

To make it means to succeed in reaching a place in time.

In this conversation, sit back means to relax.

A cruise is a journey on a ship to various places as a vacation.

A steamboat is a boat that is powered by steam, used especially on rivers and along coasts.

Elegant means attractive and well-designed.

The Mississippi is short for the Mississippi River, the second-longest river in the United States.

In this conversation, to serve means to give food or drink to someone in a restaurant, bar, etc.

Mississippi mud pie is a type of pie that has a chocolate crust and chocolate sauce.

A factor is something that causes or influences a result.

The American English website offers a variety of free resources for learners and teachers of English. The American English Facebook page posts learning materials for English-language learners daily. The American English for Educators Facebook page posts teaching materials for English-language teachers daily.

Everyday Conversations are developed by the State Department’s Heidi Howland, a senior program officer in the Office of English Language Programs, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Learn more about planning a trip to the U.S. and applying for a tourist visa.