If you’ve ever cruised on this vessel, you might have relaxed in this very spot and watched the sun set on a beautiful day.
For a bit of cruise ship trivia, see if you can recognize this popular vessel. Don’t look at the answer below until you have formulated yours.
A hint: Mark Twain was fond of this form of travel.
If you recognize it, good for you. If you don’t, make plans to book a cruise. Rolling on the river is an unforgettable experience any time of day or night.
(Answer:) Despite the odds, the lovely American Queen is cruising the rivers once again.
Her improbable tale started when the youngest of three sister ships was constructed in 1995. Listed at a whopping 418 feet long with a passenger capacity of about 435, the American Queen is said to be the biggest steamboat ever built. With her elaborate gingerbread trim and six decks, the American Queen looks like a fancy floating wedding cake.
Once owned by the Delta Queen Company, the American Queen – along with the Delta Queen and the Mississippi Queen – ruled the rivers. Devoted cruisers eagerly awaited each year’s itineraries.
Then hard times hit. In 2008, the Majestic American Line, which then owned the American Queen, went belly up. The historic Delta Queen was permanently docked in Chattanooga as a floating hotel. The Mississippi Queen was sold for scrap. And the American Queen was put in the custody of the United States Maritime Administration. The luxury steamboat sat in mothballs for years. Her future seemed dark.
However, three steamboat lovers – Jeff Krida, chief executive officer of the original Delta Queen Steamboat Company; Christopher Kyte, founder of the travel firm Uncommon Journeys and formerly the top seller of Delta Queen Steamboat Company cruises; and John Waggoner, president of HMS Global Maritime - decided they couldn’t allow the beautiful boat to be destroyed.
In 2011, they joined forces to form the Great American Steamboat Company and bought the paddle wheeler for $30 million. After a $6.5 million facelift, the American Queen is back where she belongs – on America’s rivers.
In April 2012, the American Queen left her new homeport of Memphis for an inaugural cruise. Priscilla Presley did the honors of formally rechristening the boat with a bottle of champagne. Since then, the American Queen has been drawing passengers with her charms of bygone days.
For more information: Contact the American Queen Steamboat Company at (888) 749-5280, www.americansteamboatcompany.com