New Mississippi Riverboat Launches

August 3, 2012

(2:15 p.m. EDT) -- The Mississippi River is about to get a little bit busier with the launch of American Cruise Line's newest riverboat, Queen of the Mississippi. The150-passenger paddlewheeler launches tomorrow on an inaugural seven-night voyage from New Orleans.

Stops on the seven-night cruise, which will be a regular itinerary for the riverboat, include Natchez and Vicksburg in Mississippi, as well as St. Francisville, Baton Rouge and Oak Alley in Louisiana. Other homeports for the ship will be St. Louis, Cincinnati, Memphis and Nashville.

Queen of the Mississippi is the first brand new riverboat to launch on the Mississippi in more than 15 years. It features some of the largest staterooms -- 300-plus square feet -- on U.S. waterways, almost all of which offer private balconies with sliding glass doors.

“The launch of Queen of the Mississippi represents the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Mississippi Riverboating, where 21st century amenities are offered aboard an authentic paddlewheeler that is historic in appearance,” Charles A. Robertson, president and CEO of American Cruise Lines, said in a prepared statement.

Twenty-first century amenities include Wi-Fi and satellite TV, in-room phones, room service and open seating dining. As on all American Cruise Line ships, an all-American crew provide daily educational events and themed entertainment.

The Mississippi River has been the hub of a major boom this year in U.S. river cruising. The American Queen Steamboat Company, created when it purchased the436-passenger American Queen last year, re-launched its namesake ship this past April after a $6.5 million refurbishment. American Queen, which was originally built in 1996, had been in dry dock for four years after its previous owner went out of business.

Queen of the Mississippi, along with all of American Cruise Lines' ships, is a rarity among river ships today, having been built in the United States. Construction was entirely completed in Salisbury, Maryland, by Chesapeake Shipbuilding.

The Connecticut-based American Cruise Line offers a range of small-ship itineraries along the rivers and inland waterways of the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, the Mississippi River and the U.S. East Coast from Maine to Florida.

-- by Dori Saltzman