(9 a.m. EDT) -- American Queen Steamboat Company has confirmed it will begin construction on a fourth riverboat for its fleet, American Countess.
The 245-passenger boat will be built using the existing hull of Kanesville Queen, a former casino boat built in 1995. The vessel will move from its current location in Jeffersonville, Indiana, to Houma, Louisiana, where the construction work will take place at the end of the year.
American Queen executives have long citied the need for a fourth vessel, as demand for cruises on American rivers, particularly the lower Mississippi River, continues to grow. The line's last ship, the luxury-oriented American Duchess, debuted in 2017; the company also owns the iconic America Queen steamboat as well as American Empress, which sails on the Columbia and Snake rivers in the Pacific Northwest.
"We continue to break sales records and incredible demand remains for more capacity on the river with each of our boats continuing to sail full," said American Queen Steamboat Company Chairman John Waggoner.
Details for the launch of American Countess, as well as itinerary and onboard amenities, will be announced in coming months. The company has said, however, that the boat will have a paddlewheel at the stern, as well as classical decor.
--By Chris Gray Faust, Managing Editor