"The safety and reliability of the American Queen is our top priority, and her drive shaft must be completely rebuilt," company president and COO Ted Sykes said.
In addition to the new drive shaft, the paddlewheel needs to be rebuilt and reinforced. At the same time, the ship will undergo annual refurbishments that include painting of public spaces and staterooms, and the addition of a new Front Porch Café.
Affected passengers are being asked to rebook on one of 11 Lower Mississippi voyages or any July or August Upper Mississippi or Ohio River sailing. Those who rebook will receive $250 per person/$500 per cabin credit and upgrade to the best available stateroom at the time of rebooking.
Passengers on the February 7 Mardi Gras sailing may rebook for the 2014 Mardi Gras sailing at current 2013 prices.
Any passenger who decides to cancel entirely will receive a full refund and reimbursement for travel-related expenses.
The river boat is scheduled to depart on its first 2013 sailing February 23, roundtrip from New Orleans.
--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor