Posted on Saturday, April 14, 2012 by Shawn Dake
April 13, 2012 New Orleans, Louisiana
Maritime Matters has been following the return of river cruising on the Mississippi River since the first announcements that the steamer AMERICAN QUEEN would be resuming service under the banner of the Great American Steamboat Company. That dream has become a reality as the first voyage from New Orleans is now underway. The following is a report from Timothy E. Rubacky, Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Product Development that nicely links the history of New Orleans to the American steamboats of the past leading up to the momentous events of the present day:
|“If you’ve followed our blog, our Facebook page, recent media reports or visit our website regularly, then you know that the inaugural reintroduction voyage of the American Queentook place today. For the first time in a long time, an authentic steam-powered riverboat will return to American river cruising. Significantly, she embarked her first passengers in New Orleans. Few cities are associated with riverboats as much as New Orleans, and we are proud to once again be a part of this great city’s legacy.Let me be clear that back in the heyday of the riverboats in the 19th century, cities like Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis, Natchez and Memphis (among others) were bastions of the mighty steamboats. But as the decades passed, the general public seems to have linked riverboats and New Orleans more than any other combination.Fittingly, New Orleans was not only the destination of the first steamboat on Western rivers but also the name of the vessel as well. The New Orleansbegan a long, arduous journey from Pittsburgh to New Orleans on October 20, 1811, and survived the wilds of the frontier, including the largest earthquake in American history near New Madrid, Missouri, that winter before arriving in her namesake city on January 10, 1812, a journey of nearly three full months! After a celebratory greeting, she went into regular service between New Orleans and Natchez and the Crescent City’s place in steamboating history was secured. (Not to mention, Natchez, as well!)It was in New Orleans that the legendary Delta Queen arrived after her tow through the Panama Canal from San Francisco in 1947 to begin her second life as a Mississippi River steamboat for Greene Line Steamers of Cincinnati, another historic riverboat city. When Greene Line took on the name Delta Queen Steamboat Company and built the Mississippi Queen, after her naming ceremony in Louisville and boarding guests in Cincinnati, the Mississippi Queen promptly left on her 18-night maiden voyage to, you guessed it, New Orleans.
New Orleans is intertwined with the history of the American Queen as well. She was originally built 90 miles west of New Orleans at the McDermott Shipyard in Morgan City, Louisiana, in 1995. Her delivery voyage ended in New Orleans where she was named with the world’s largest bottle of Tabasco sauce (a gesture not entirely appreciated by the marine life of the Mississippi River). From New Orleans, she embarked on her maiden voyage, a 16-night journey to Pittsburgh, retracing the route of the New Orleans in 1811-1812.
Today, the grand American Queen welcomes her guests at the Riverwalk Marketplace complex next to the soaring Hilton Hotel, once the site of a steamboat landing from years gone by.
The Officers and Crew of the American Queen hope to welcome you onboard in the very near future.