The Great American Steamboat Company's revitalized American Queen chugged to her home port of Memphis April 26, to the revitalized Beale Street Landing, after her first voyage up the mighty Mississippi since 2008. The US flagged steamboat's appearance marks the return of overnight cruises on one of America's great rivers. Originally built in 1995 by the Delta Queen Steamboat Co., the American Queen is the largest and, company officials said, the most opulent steamboat ever built, which accommodates 436 guests and features palatial public spaces, elegant staterooms and Southern cuisine of Chef Regina Charboneau.
The company hired more than 300 employees from the Memphis area, including crew, to outfit the ship and estimates its appearance and rolling up and down the river to have an economic impact of $89 million for the region. On the first journey to its home port, celebrations including having Priscilla Presley, wife of arguably the most famous resident of Memphis, the late Elvis Presley, serving as the godmother of the American Queen in a christening ceremony.
After the festivities, the ship was heading out on her inaugural voyage up the Mississippi River to the Ohio River, with stops in Kentucky and Indiana before arriving in the disembarkation city of Cincinnati. She was to take part in the Kentucky Derby Festival's Great Steamboat Race with the Belle of Louisville and Belle of Cincinnati on May 2.
A variety of voyage lengths from three to 10 nights are available on the American Queen, with fares starting at $995 per guest, from departure cities of Memphis, New Orleans, St. Louis, St. Paul, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. A pre- or post-cruise luxury hotel stay, bottled water and soft drinks, wine and beer at dinner and free shore adventures are included in each port of call. For info, check out www.greatamericansteamboatcompany.com or call 888-749- 5280.