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Crown Cruise Vacations | May 23, 2019

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American Queen Steamboat Company Archives - Crown Cruise Vacations

Two Victory Riverboats Join American Queen Steamboat Company

April 4, 2019 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

Two new riverboats will soon be plying America’s waterways. Rather, two existing riverboats have now joined the American Queen Steamboat Company and are undergoing a multimillion-dollar refurbishment before entering service in May 2019

The Victory I and sister ship Victory II have cruised over from Sunstone Ships, Inc. to the American Queen Steamboat Company as Victory Cruise Line. Read more...

New paddlewheeler joins two sisters on Mississippi River

December 14, 2016 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

By Jackie Sheckler Finch

The Mississippi River will soon have a new paddlewheeler offering river cruisers a trip through America’s heartland, starting July 3, 2017. The 166-guest American Duchess is the first purpose-built paddlewheeler, operated by the American Queen Steamboat Company.

“We are thrilled to officially open reservations for sailings on the newest member of our fleet, the American Duchess,” said Ted Sykes, American Queen Steamboat Company president and COO. “As demand for more capacity on the Mississippi River has been overwhelming the past two seasons, we look forward to offering river cruisers more opportunities to explore our country’s heartland.”

The American Duchess will join the American Queen and the American Empress in the Memphis-based American Queen Steamboat Company. New itineraries offered on the American Duchess include overnight stays in the heart of Nashville as well as shorter roundtrip itineraries from the “Music City” and New Orleans. For added convenience, guests can also enjoy departures from Chicago (Ottawa, Il.) –  a first in the company’s history.

“The American Queen Steamboat Company has led the way in a rebirth of U.S. river cruising as thousands discover our heartland and the Pacific Northwest, served by an award-winning, All-American crew,” Sykes said.

The American Duchess will feature the largest suites on the river in every category.  The American Duchess will offer a generous space ratio showcased by three 550-square-foot Owner’s Suites, four 550-square-foot Loft Suites – a U.S. riverboat first – as well as spacious Veranda Suites and Interior Suites.

Featuring open seating with two dining venues, The Grand Dining Room and The Grill Room will offer regionally inspired cuisine similar to that of the American Queen.

“In five short years, the American Queen Steamboat Company has grown to over 500 employees and we look forward to hiring about 100 more, right here in the U.S., in anticipation of the American Duchess inaugural season,” shares John Waggoner, the line’s chairman as well as president and CEO of HMS Global Maritime, operator of over 85 U.S.-flagged vessels.

“I am proud of the economic impact we continue to have in leading U.S. river cruising, which can be seen in our homeport of Memphis and the many cities we visit including New Orleans and St. Louis.”

Courtesy photo of the American Duchess

American Queen chooses Memphis for homeport

September 10, 2014 | Heidi

If you happen to see the American Queen cruising along one of America’s rivers, take a close look at that name beneath the big red paddlewheel.

Proudly posted on the back of the riverboat is the American Queen’s new homeport – Memphis, Tennessee.

“We are very happy to be the new home of the American Queen,” said Jonathan Lyons, public relation manager for the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Our city officials worked hard to get that honor.”

A major part of those efforts to please the American Queen and it’s passengers, Memphis recently constructed Beale Street Landing. The ambitious docking facility can accommodate 50-foot shifts in the Mississippi River’s height.

After a decade of design, planning, construction and a difficult budget, the Riverfront Development Corporation’s $43 million Beale Street Landing project officially opened June 28, 2014.

Beale Street Landing’s dock, where passengers load onto the American Queen and other riverboats, is made from barges so it can rise and fall with the river. Passengers can reach the boat by walking down the landing’s ramp. For those with mobility problems, golf carts are available to get to the boat.

And the new Beale Street Landing should get plenty of use, Memphis officials said. The American Queen docks here 13 times a year. The Queen of the Mississippi docks 15 times a year. The Grande Mariner and the Grande Caribe from the Blount cruise line both dock here four times a year. A local sightseeing cruise boat, the Island Queen, takes passengers on cruises twice a day.

Next to the landing is a small park with gardens and seats where people can sit and watch the river flow. A playground, restaurant and gift shop also are part of the project.

With such a great landing and such a marvelous homeport, cruise passengers might want to plan to spend a couple of extra days in Memphis before or after a cruise.

Story by Jackie Sheckler Finch

Cruise Ship Trivia: Can you name this vessel?

May 30, 2014 | Heidi

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.

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(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 Queenwas 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.

By Jackie Sheckler Finch

 

 

The Peanut Butter Memphis Connection

September 25, 2013 | Heidi

Memphis – Now I know why Elvis loved them so much. I also know why he packed on so many pounds.

With the American Queen riverboat now based in Memphis, Tennessee, I have another good reason for visiting one of my favorite cities. I also make it a point to drop by Graceland whenever I’m in town.

Not only is there always something new to see at Graceland and something old to remember, there is also that calorie-filled, delicious snack that Elvis favored.

Riverboat Biscuits

April 24, 2013 | Heidi

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. And the delicious breakfasts served on the American Queen make it easier to roll out of a comfy bed each morning on the river.

American Queen Cruising Again on America’s Rivers

December 21, 2012 | Heidi

An early morning sun sweeps off a shroud of wispy fog as the American Queen paddles her way along the Mississippi River. In the J.M. White Dining Room, I’m savoring a big Southern breakfast while a friendly dining staff delivers coffee, tea and cheerfulness.

“It’s like a miracle,” says Ernest Thompson of Louisville. “We didn’t think we would ever see the riverboats cruising again. Once they left the river, we were afraid they would never be back.”

Many folks might agree with those sentiments. But, despite the odds, the beautiful 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 paddlewheeler 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.

“It’s been far too long since genuine steamboats have graced the rivers of America,” said  Krida, “Steamboating is back and better than ever.”

Krida should know. He was president of the Delta Queen Steamboat Company during its heyday in the 1990s, a time when the company had the highest ratings going for service, entertainment and value.

Boarding the American Queen in Memphis for an eight-day cruise to St. Louis, I immediately felt a sense of homecoming. After cruising many times on all three queens, I definitely missed them.

There was something special about the three riverboats and to be on the Mississippi Queen again was – much as Ernest Thompson had described it – “a miracle.”

-By Jackie Sheckler Finch