American Queen Returning to New Orleans
April 13, 2012
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After a nearly three-year absence, overnight steamboat excursions on the Mississippi River will return on April 13 when the American Queen puts into the Port of New Orleans for the first of what are expected to be 17 cruises either originating from here or terminating here or both in 2012.
The American Queen was the third, largest and newest of three steamboats once owned and operated by the New Orleans-based Delta Queen Steamboat Company. When the company went out of business in the early 2000s, the American Queen went in and out of service for several years. Recently refurbishing, it is now ready to start running the river again. The boat is currently under the ownership of the Memphis-based Great American Steamboat Company, headed by Jeffrey D. Krida, who was the president of the Delta Queen Steamboat Company in the 1990s.
Capable of comfortably accommodating more than 400 passengers, the American Queen will tie up at close to 40 individual cities and historic sites along the Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee rivers. Major ports of cruise origin are Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville, Chattanooga, Memphis, St. Louis, St. Paul, Vicksburg and New Orleans. Excursions will range from four to ten nights, with the average cruise lasting seven nights.
Although the American Queen won't be homeported in New Orleans, the Crescent City will see the boat more than any other city along the Mississippi and its tributaries this year. Between April 13 and June 21 there were will be nine separate dockings here then, after a summer hiatus, the boat will return on November 19 to finish out the year with another eight cruises from our port.
The American Queen's first cruise, a six-day round trip to and from New Orleans (April 13-19), will make stops at Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, LA; St. Francisville, LA; Natchez and Vicksburg, Mississippi; and, on the return trip, at Houmas House Plantation in Burnside, LA. The boat will then leave New Orleans on April 19 for an eight-day cruise to Memphis, Tennessee, making stops at Oak Alley, St. Francisville, Natchez, Vicksburg and Helena, Arkansas along the way. Passengers who disembark at Memphis will have to arrange their own bus or rail transportation back to New Orleans. The price for either one is $49 one-way.
The American Queen returns to New Orleans in May and June for seven cruises to the same Louisiana and Mississippi destinations plus the state capital of Baton Rouge, LA. Most of the same destinations will be visited during the cruises that run out of New Orleans in November and December. For a complete breakdown of the year's American Queen cruise schedule go to www.greatamericansteamboatcompany.com/destination/ and click on the menu item marked "Our Journeys."
Among the many amenities offered by the American Queen are the following:
- A variety of choices of staterooms and their locations and sizes in a wide range of prices
- Gourmet, onboard-cooked meals, representing a variety of regional and ethnic cuisines and dining options will be available to passengers with the price of the excursion
- Onshore guided tours of plantations and other historic sites where the boat puts in
- One-night luxury hotel stay with full American breakfast and transfers before or after the voyage
- Complimentary soft drinks all day and complimentary wine or beer with dinner
- Live entertainment with such renowned bands as the Glenn Miller Orchestra, the Harry James Orchestra, the Rat Pack Show, B.J. Thomas, the Lovin' Spoonful, the Platters, Bill Haley's Comets, the New Orleans Jazz All-Stars and more
Ship Specs and History
The American Queen is widely believed to be the largest steamboat ever built. It was constructed in 1994 by McDermott Shipyard and launched in 1995 at an approximate cost of $60 million. Its steam engine is from the U.S. dredge Kennedy. As the paddlewheels are too small to move the large boat in every situation, there are two additional propellers which can be used if necessary.
The American Queen is 418 feet long and 89 feet 4´´ high. Equipped with 222 staterooms the "Queen" can accommodate up to 436 passengers. It has a calliope with 37 gold-plated brass pipes, specially built for the American Queen.
Due to the bankruptcy of the parental company Delta Queen Steamboat Company/American Classic Voyages, the American Queen went out of service in October 2001. The Delta Queen Steamboat Company was bought up by Delaware North Companies, Inc. and the American Queen went back in service in January 2003.
End of the 2008 season Majestic America Line decided to discontinue its cruise business. The American Queen had been returned to the MARAD and was on idle on a lake near Beaumont, Texas until August 2011 when it was acquired by Hornblower and moved to a shipyard in Louisiana for a refit. The new Great American Steamboat Company, headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee, will operate the American Queen again as a river cruise ship, beginning in April 2012.
For more details about the American Queen, including voyages, price ranges, accommodations, amenities and other key information visit their website at www.greatamericansteamboatcompany.com.