Delta Queen Cancels American Queen Sailings Through 2006

September 8, 2005
(4:30 p.m.) -- Delta Queen Steamboat Company has announced that all fall and winter cruises onboard American Queen beginning September 16, 2005 have been canceled, due to the extensive damage Hurricane Katrina brought to New Orleans, the ship's scheduled departure port. American Queen will re-enter service on March 6, 2006.

Before the ship exits service, however, it will sail its September 10 voyage roundtrip from Memphis, which led us to wonder why Delta Queen decided to eliminate sailings rather than redeploy the ship semi-permanently as NCL has done with Norwegian Sun and Carnival has done with Carnival Conquest. A spokeswoman from the line did not return several calls from Cruise Critic but a statement, posted on the line's Web site, says it is "working with various government authorities to make the American Queen available in the overall relief efforts for the Gulf Coast region, especially greater New Orleans."

Should Delta Queen decide to dedicate American Queen to the relief effort, it will the third line to do so -- Carnival has chartered its Ecstasy, Holiday and Sensation to FEMA for the next six months to serve as temporary shelters for evacuees and/or cleanup crew along the Gulf Coast. The Scotia Prince cruise ferry will also serve as housing.

Guests booked on the canceled three- and four-night sailings will automatically receive a full refund, which can be expected within 60 days. Those who wish to rebook may choose any of Delta Queen's 2006 sailings at 2005 rates; passengers who rebook will also be given a $100 per-person shipboard credit. More information about this option can be obtained by calling 800-543-1949.

Many employees of the New Orleans-based cruise line (the company has relocated its offices to Buffalo, New York) lost their homes, according to parent company Delaware North. Delaware North has established the Delaware North Companies Hurricane Katrina Associate Relief Effort, Inc. (KARE) to provide relief to associates in need. Contributions can be made online here. Passengers who wish to contribute all or part of the refund of their canceled cruise to this cause may do so by e-mailing their name and phone number to, or by calling 800-543-1949.

For other ways you can help the hurricane relief effort, please click here.