(1:30 p.m. EDT) -- The godmother for American Duchess, the newest ship to sail America's rivers, is all in the family for American Queen Steamboat Company.
Marissa Applegate, daughter of the cruise line's company chairman John Waggoner, will name the ship at the christening on August 14 in New Orleans. Instead of Champagne, the vessel will be christened with a bottle of Maker's Mark bourbon, in honor of the line's special themed spirits cruises.
American Duchess will be the third ship for the line, which also owns the paddlewheelers American Queen and American Empress. The 166-passenger vessel will sail on the Mississippi River and its tributaries; itineraries include Memphis to New Orleans, Memphis to St. Louis, Red Wing to St. Louis, Memphis to Nashville, Ottawa, Illinois to St. Louis and round trips from Nashville. (For most routes, the trips also run in reverse.)
The ship, a former gaming vessel, has been redone, and will be the first on American rivers to be comprised completely of suites. Fares include a hotel stay before most sailings, complimentary wine and beer with dinner, shore excursions in every port and daily lectures by a riverlorian.
Cruise Critic will be sailing American Duchess this weekend on a special media preview cruise before the christening on August 14. Look for live coverage and our thoughts on the new vessel, coming soon.
--By Chris Gray Faust, Senior Editor