French America Line Set For Mississippi Debut

An old Columbia River cruising favorite will return to service this summer for new operators on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.

French America Line

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MV LOUISIANE rendering, courtesy of French America Line.

August 2016 will mark the debut of a bright new cruising entity on the Mississippi and Ohio River systems with the introduction of the 150-guest riverboat LOUISIANE. Earlier this year, newly formed New Orleans-based French America Line purchased the 2000-built Columbia River cruise vessel COLUMBIA QUEEN from the U.S. Maritime Administration and will be bringing her to Louisiana for a complete transformation into the French/New Orleans-themed LOUISIANE. The 218-by-66-foot cruise ship is currently in the early stages of a multi-million dollar refit and will be loaded onto a submersible docking platform that will be towed on a 33-day voyage from Portland, Oregon to Louisiana in mid May.

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MV COLUMBIA QUEEN in 2008.

Built in 2000 from the hull of a former casino boat by the Leevac Shipyards, Inc. of Jennings, LA for the Delta Queen Steamboat Company, the COLUMBIA QUEEN was completed at Cascade General, Inc., in Portland, Oregon. She operated for Delta Queen on the Columbia, Snake and Willamette Rivers before being sold to Great American River Journeys and later Majestic America Line, which folded in 2008, at which time the ship was laid up.

The Veranda

MV LOUISIANE Veranda, facing starboard. Rendering courtesy of French America Line.

When the ship emerges in August as the LOUISIANE, she will have been given a stem-to-stern revitalization with all new public areas and accommodation on her four passenger decks. She will boast two open seating dining venues, the top/aft situated, French Quarter sidewalk cafe-themed Veranda and the more formal, crystal chandelier-festooned Orleans Room, which will offer a supper club setting with live entertainment in the heart of the ship. The cuisine will feature French and Creole specialties under the supervision of celebrated executive chef Regina Charbonneau.

Other public areas aboard the LOUISIANE include the forward-situated French Quarter Lounge (for soft jazz and soothing entertainment) and Great Rivers Lounge (a quiet retreat for cards and conversation) as well as a Library and the Bar Royale, adjacent to the Orleans Dining Room.

75 staterooms in seven categories will range from a pair of 267-square-foot Richelieu Suites with panoramic window views and a veranda that opens onto the wraparound promenade to 22 Veranda Staterooms with private balconies, 13 staterooms with French balconies and 20 Insides.

New amenities in all staterooms will include: deluxe pillow top mattresses; luxury linens and duvets; Hermes toiletries; Vosges brand chocolates on the pillows at turn down; Parisian macaroons at the beginning of every voyage; i-Pads in each suite with daily programs; menus and shore excursion info; plush spa robes; pillow menu with eight selections; complimentary 24-hour room service; complimentary Natura brand bottled and sparkling water replenished daily; complimentary WiFi; flat screen LCD television with satellite programming; direct dial phones; hairdryers; individually controlled air conditioning; make up mirrors and built-in safes.

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MV LOUISIANE rendering, courtesy of French America Line.

In addition to complimentary enrichment programs, wine, beer, spirits, soft drinks, specialty coffees, teas, sodas and bottled water, complimentary shore excursions (premium excursions are also available for purchase), bicycles (with helmets) are available to guests in select ports at no additional charge.

More North American-based river and inland waterway cruise ships are expected to be added to the French America Line fleet in the near future.

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego

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