Posted on Thursday, April 26, 2012 by Peter Knego
The Memphis, Tennessee waterfront is abuzz with spectators today as Great American Steamboat Company’s AMERICAN QUEEN made her debut in what is officially her new homeport. Despite construction work at Beale Street Landing still underway to accommodate the largest and most lavish steamboat ever built, locals enthusiastically welcomed the 436 passenger vessel following her multi-million dollar restoration after the collapse of former owners, Majestic America Line in 1998.
“Today is a dream come true as we revive the fabled steamboat experience, introducing river communities to thousands of travelers, especially our hometown of Memphis,” shared Great American Steamboat Company President Jeff Krida. “The smiling faces greeting us here in the ‘Capital of Southern hospitality’ is humbling and it is no surprise most of our crew calls Memphis home.”
As the AMERICAN QUEEN approached downtown Memphis, she was met by the city’s residents and family members of the crew. The recently formed Great American Steamboat Company has hired 300+ employees from the area, including the steamboat crew, and an economic impact of $89 million is anticipated for the region.
On Friday, April 27, Priscilla Presley will serve as godmother of the AMERICAN QUEEN in an afternoon christening ceremony at Beale Street Landing, then the vessel will depart on her inaugural voyage up the Mississippi River to the Ohio River with stops in Henderson, Ky., Louisville, Ky., and Madison, Ind., before arriving in Cincinnati, Ohio. On May 2 in Louisville, she will take part in the wonderful tradition of the Kentucky Derby Festival’s Great Steamboat Race with the Belle of Louisville and Belle of Cincinnati.
MaritimeMatters will be well represented on the inaugural cruise with Peter Knego and Shawn Dake. Stay tuned for their upcoming reports.