From Greene To Great

 From Greene To Great

The Great American Steamboat Company carries on a steamboat legacy with the reintroduction of the AMERICAN QUEEN

 By 

 Shawn J. Dake

The AMERICAN QUEEN on her first return to the Ohio River. Photographed at Madison, Indiana, May 3, 2012. Photo by Shawn J. Dake.

The return of the AMERICAN QUEEN is more important than being just another travel option in the cruise industry. While European River Cruising continues to grow at an astoundingly fast pace, for nearly four years America had no overnight steamboat service at all, yet could boast of having some of the most famous waterways in the world. In a continuing timeline stretching from 1811 until 2008 it was possible to book passage and cruise by steam up and down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to the sound of a paddlewheel slapping the water, moving you closer to your destination. Then it ended.

Red paddlewheels and white filigree have long been distinguishing features of the American steamboat. Photo by Shawn J. Dake.

For over 200 years commerce on the rivers has been at the very heart of the American experience. As a young nation expanding west, it opened up what were then vast new frontiers. From a literary perspective it provided us with some of the greatest books ever written, from the fertile mind of a man with the pen name of Mark Twain. And for passengers, they could travel between cities and towns along over 3,000 miles of navigable rivers. These passengers were often referred to as “walking cargo” as virtually all of the early riverboats transported freight as well. In the 20th century, a leisurely pleasure cruise became another exceptionally good reason to spend some time on the river. That last tradition has thankfully been revived ever since the AMERICAN QUEEN took on her first paying guests at New Orleans on April 13, 2012, and once again began sailing upriver.

Gordon C. Greene, whose family founded Greene Line Steamers. His father Tom Greene bought the DELTA QUEEN in 1946, and Gordon had one of his first jobs working aboard when the steamboat first arrived in New Orleans. Photo by Shawn J. Dake.

The AMERICAN QUEEN is the direct linear descendant of those early paddlewheel steamboats. It is therefore wholly fitting and appropriate that the honorary Commodore of the Great American Steamboat Company is a man named Gordon C. Greene. A true gentleman, Mr. Greene and his wife Brenda attended and were honored at the christening ceremony on April 27th in Memphis, Tennessee, then stayed aboard to ride the AMERICAN QUEEN to their hometown and ancestral home of Steamboating, Cincinnati, Ohio. Two kinds of river royalty met at this very special event. A man who is the namesake of the founder of Greene Line Steamers, and the son of Tom and Letha Greene who first brought the famous DELTA QUEEN to the Mississippi River and Priscilla Presley, actress, philanthropist and former wife of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock And Roll, who served as godmother of the rechristened AMERICAN QUEEN.

Priscilla Presley flanked by Great American Steamboat Company executives in the moment prior to the christening in Memphis on April 27, 2012. Photo by Shawn J. Dake.

The very first engine-powered trip down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers was in 1811 aboard the steamboat NEW ORLEANS. Although it took two and half months to complete that inaugural voyage the 116-foot long sidewheel steamer arrived safely in New Orleans on January 12, 1812. For the first time passengers were not only able to float down the river, but sail back up it as well. Steamboats revolutionized travel. The years following the Civil War are considered by many to be the golden age of the steamboat. It is estimated that between 1812 and 1927 at least 12,000 steamboats were built for service along the inland rivers. The era of the “floating palaces” and lesser hard-working boats, was at its peak.

The H.K. BEDFORD, the first steamer owned by the Greene Line. Archives of the Delta Queen Steamboat Company.

In 1890, a 28-year old man named Captain Gordon Christopher Greene made two momentous decisions that would change not only his life, but the course of river travel for decades to come. He purchased a 149-foot long steamboat called the H.K. BEDFORD and married a remarkable young woman named Mary Becker. On June 22, 1890 the new company, Greene Line Steamers began operations on the upper reaches of the Ohio River. Learning at her husband’s side, Mary Greene became a licensed steamboat pilot herself in 1895; the first, and one of the only women ever to become Captain.

Aboard the company steamer GREENLAND, Captain Mary Greene, on left, holds her young son and future Captain Tom Greene. Archives of the Delta Queen Steamboat Company.

Her dedication to her work was such that she gave birth to her son, future Captain Tom Greene, aboard her steamboat GREENLAND on February 3, 1904 while the boat was trapped in an ice jam. Over the years the Greene Line owned a total of 28 steamboats. In 1927, the company’s founder Gordon C. Greene passed away. Captain Mary and their sons Tom and Chris took over the operation. Among the growing fleet each family member had a steamboat bearing their name. Chris Greene died at the young age of 43 from a heart attack in 1944.

The first all-passenger river steamboat, the GORDON C. GREENE along the levee at Hannibal, Missouri. Postcard from the collection of Shawn J. Dake.

It was Captain Tom Greene who had the vision of a future for steamboats carrying only tourists rather than both passengers and freight. Around 1937, he altered the accommodations aboard the steamer GORDON C. GREENE to better serve this new clientele. As it turned out, his timing was rather fortuitous and the cruises caught on. During World War II there were few opportunities for people to travel overseas and domestic trips along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers became phenomenally popular. The

GORDON C. GREENE, was an older boat having been built in 1923 as the CAPE GIRARDEAU at Jeffersonville, Indiana. Greene Line acquired it in 1935.

Just like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn before them, these young boys marvel at the sight of a passing steamboat, in this case the GORDON C. GREENE. Postcard from the collection of Shawn J. Dake.

The rebuilding efforts were great revenue generators but with the addition of a deck the boat became a bit unwieldy and less aesthetically pleasing. With issues of maneuverability on the aging but still viable boat, combined with high demand for accommodations, Tom Greene began the search for another steamboat, to be the finest on the Western Rivers. The journey took him to California where the 285-foot long Sacramento riverboats DELTA KING and DELTA QUEEN were idle in the reserve fleet after their years of service in the second World War on San Francisco Bay. He liked what he saw and despite the logistics of relocating a flat-bottomed steamboat from the West Coast to the Mississippi River via the open ocean he decided to place a bid with the Federal Maritime Commission. His original bid of $26,350 was for the DELTA KING but he lost out to a group of Asian investors. Next up for sale was the DELTA QUEEN which was successfully purchased at auction for $46,250 on November 20, 1946, the only bid coming from Tom Greene. After the long trip under tow through the Panama Canal the former California boat arrived in New Orleans to become “Queen” of the Greene Line steamers.

The famous DELTA QUEEN served the Greene Line and its successors from 1947 until 2008. Photo by Shawn J. Dake © 2007.

The company was always a family affair and one of the first people to go aboard the latest vessel was a young 11-year old boy named after his grandfather, and the son of Captain Tom and his wife Letha, Gordon C. Greene. While riding on the inaugural 2012 cruise of the AMERICAN QUEEN to his home in Cincinnati he recalled those long ago days, taking the Hummingbird train with his father to the new boat, hammering nails out of boards as the DELTA QUEEN was being readied to steam under her own power upriver to be fully refurbished. Captain Tom Greene was the pilot of the DELTA QUEEN and loved to socialize with his passengers, often playing banjo for them. His mother Mary, the family matriarch lived onboard and served as a de facto social hostess.

Captain Tom R. Greene, proud owner and Master of the DELTA QUEEN. Photo by Shawn J. Dake from a painting aboard the DELTA QUEEN.

Sadly, Tom Greene was not able to enjoy the great success of his latest venture for very long. He passed away from a heart attack in 1950 at age 46. Letha Greene was left to raise the children and run a steamboat company. As her son Tom Jr. once poignantly remarked “Whatever we are in our family, we are because of the influence of the boats and the river.” Even after the DELTA QUEEN passed out of family ownership and Greene Line became the Delta Queen Steamboat Company, the steamboat always maintained that family atmosphere. That spirit still lives on to this day aboard the AMERICAN QUEEN, rightful heir to this long river legacy.

Many changes in the ownership and operation of the DELTA QUEEN took place over the years. Among many investors was Overseas National Airways (ONA) who took over Greene Line Steamers in 1969 when Letha Greene officially retired, ending 79-years of family ownership. At the time the United States Congress was busy trying to force the DELTA QUEEN out of business. New fire-safety regulations prohibiting vessels with wooden superstructures was enacted following the burning of the ocean-going cruise ship YARMOUTH CASTLE. Although a riverboat, the rules were interpreted to apply to the steamboat too. At the time much effort was made to save the DELTA QUEEN, with the vessel even making her farewell voyage. At the last minute through a backdoor maneuver in Congress she was given an exemption that was signed into law by President Richard M. Nixon on December 31, 1970 and the steamboat returned to service in April, 1971. The exemptions were routinely extended until November 1, 2008 when our government finally managed to kill overnight river cruises on the DELTA QUEEN.

The MISSISSIPPI QUEEN when it was brand new in 1976. From the collection of Shawn J. Dake.

With the precarious situation concerning fire-safety rules that might apply to their only boat, one of the major goals of ONA was to build an all-steel steamboat to either augment or eventually replace the 1927-built DELTA QUEEN. Lacking the funds to complete the project, ONA sold the company, which had been renamed the Delta Queen Steamboat Company, in 1973 to the Coca Cola Bottling Company. The MISSISSIPPI QUEEN, was completed in 1976, built by Jeffboat at the same Jeffersonville, Indiana yard where the old GORDON C. GREENE had been constructed. She was the first large, overnight steamboat built in nearly 50 years, ironically the previous one being the DELTA QUEEN in 1927. Together, they sailed for many years. In 1985, Chicago-based Equity Group Investments run by Sam Zell and Bob Lurie acquired control of the outstanding stock in the company.

The fleet complete. From top the AMERICAN QUEEN, MISSISSIPPI QUEEN and DELTA QUEEN. Delta Queen Steamboat Company.

In 1990, the Delta Queen Steamboat Company celebrated 100 years since the company’s Greene Line origins. They found themselves in the enviable position of having more demand for their cruises than capacity. The time was right to build a third vessel, one which would surpass all others before it. It was determined that this would be the largest and most luxurious steamboat in history. The vessel would be 418 feet long (85.5 meters) and 89.4 feet wide (18 meters) with a pair of tall smokestacks towering 109.5 feet (33.4 meters) above the water which could be lowered to permit passage under bridges and power lines. The result was the grand AMERICAN QUEEN christened in New Orleans on June 2, 1995 using a four foot tall, specially constructed bottle of Tabasco Sauce. Inside the six deck, 3,707 gross ton steamboat was a masterpiece of Victorian-style elegance. Original antiques and some reproductions furnished the public rooms and cabins. Wrap-around decks were perfect for promenading or sitting outside the staterooms watching the river scenery roll by. “Porches” both fore and aft, provided unobstructed views and quiet relaxation. All of the public areas were beautifully decorated but two in particular are of special note.

The Grand Saloon of the AMERICAN QUEEN looking aft. Photo by Shawn J. Dake.
A view of one of the boxes on the upper level. Photo by Shawn J. Dake.

The Grand Saloon is designed to resemble a 19th century opera house with a nod to Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. The two-deck height space has a large dance floor and seating on the lower Main Deck level, while the upper level on Cabin Deck contains six sections devoted to box seats and a balcony. Chandeliers and original artwork enhances the elegance of this entertaining room.

The Main Cabin of the J.M. WHITE one of the most palatial steamboats ever built. Photographer unknown.
Is replicated in the J.M. White Dining Room of the AMERICAN QUEEN. Photo by Shawn J. Dake.

At the forward end of the Main Deck, the J.M. White Dining Room is perhaps the most spectacular restaurant that can be found today on either ocean-going cruise ships or riverboats. Designed to replicate the Main Cabin of the 1878-built steamboat J.M. WHITE, domed sections rise on either side of the hall, with huge tapestries decorating the forward bulkheads and large mirrors reflecting the length of the room from the aft end. Tall windows with velvet drapes and potted palms grace the perimeter. Whether dining from the buffet or enjoying a sit down meal, the luxury of this grand dining room commands your attention.

While the AMERICAN QUEEN was added at a time when the company’s fortunes were at their peak those halcyon days would be short-lived. Sam Zell had reorganized the company as American Classic Voyages and set about attempting to monopolize U.S. flag shipping by adding American Hawaii Cruises to his portfolio, creating a new United States Lines division beginning with the PATRIOT (ex NIEUW AMSTERDAM) and announcing ambitious plans to build two new ocean-going cruise ships for Hawaii titled “Project America.” On the West Coast the COLUMBIA QUEEN was acquired and in the east, two brand new 5,000 ton vessels, the CAPE MAY LIGHT and the CAPE COD LIGHT were built in 2001 for the new Delta Queen Coastal Voyages brand. Only one of them ever had the chance to sail with passengers and then only for about four months.

A rare view of both the CAPE COD LIGHT and the CAPE MAY LIGHT laid up together in Florida. Delta Queen Coastal Voyages.

With hindsight, a corporate frenzy had taken over the company as they expanded too rapidly and lost sight of what once had made their particular brand of voyages so great. The mass-market approach to cruising simply would not work with a niche product like steamboats. As Jeffrey Krida, the former president of the Delta Queen Steamboat Company and currently the CEO of Great American Steamboat Company summed up at the time, “They began to market all of their cruise products with the same philosophy. I think that was the beginning of their demise.” Krida added “They made a common denominator over everything. They lost the specialization and the personal touch that Delta Queen once had.” The company was already in deep trouble. It only needed the catastrophe of September 11th to push them over the edge. On October 18, 2001, American Classic Voyages declared bankruptcy. Hospitality group, Delaware North, bought the Delta Queen Steamboat Company and the three riverboats for about $80 million and restarted operations in May, 2002. Their tenure would last less than four years.

In happier days the DELTA QUEEN and the MISSISSIPPI QUEEN are seen tied up side-by-side at Cincinnati, Ohio on October 20, 2003. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

In April, 2006 the company was sold to Ambassadors International, Inc., then based in Newport Beach, California. They proceeded to combine the DELTA QUEEN, MISSISSIPPI QUEEN and AMERICAN QUEEN with the two riverboats of the American West Steamboat Company QUEEN OF THE WEST and EMPRESS OF THE NORTH to form the Majestic America Line brand. Like their American Classic predecessor Ambassadors International attempted to consolidate nearly all American riverboats under one parent company adding the COLUMBIA QUEEN and the little 48-passenger catamaran CONTESSA to the line up for a total of seven boats. Initial high hopes quickly turned financially disastrous as the company searched in vain to figure out how to run paddlewheel riverboats and find their place in the travel industry. After huge losses and numerous setbacks Majestic America Line announced that they would voluntarily go out of business. In an unusually candid statement for a CEO, Joe Ueberroth stated, “I acknowledge that no matter how well structured or how little capital was required, our investment in the domestic river cruise business was a very bad investment. We flat got it wrong.”

The end of the line came for the DELTA QUEEN on October 31, 2008 when her exemption from fire-safety regulations expired. Photo by Shawn J. Dake.

History will remember 2008 as being the year that steamboats left American rivers. No buyers came forward to purchase Majestic America Line as a whole company nor the laid up boats individually. As it must be, the end was sad. The MISSISSIPPI QUEEN which had been completely gutted but never refurbished rotted away until it was so ruined that it’s remains were scrapped in 2011. The hull is now a barge. Congress failed to grant the usual exemption from fire safety rules for the wooden structured DELTA QUEEN, and the then 81 year old steamboat disembarked her last passengers on October 31, 2008 and proceeded to New Orleans for lay up. It later steamed up to Chattanooga, Tennessee under her own power where she has been operating as a stationary hotel. The boat was purchased by Xanterra Parks & Resorts as part of their acquisition of Windstar Cruises from Ambassadors, but the future remains precarious for the 1927 built steamer. The 360 foot long EMPRESS OF THE NORTH and the AMERICAN QUEEN were seized by the U.S. Maritime Administration, MARAD, after defaulting on government backed loans, and laid up. The QUEEN OF THE WEST had the dubious honor on November 16, 2008 of being the last of the boats to be laid up, ending the Majestic America Line brand. Putting an exclamation point on the loss of cruising on our inland rivers a small competitor Riverbarge Excursion Lines halted their operations, with a final cruise departing on December 29, 2008. The unusual R/B RIVER EXPLORER consisted of two barges, the DE SOTO which contained the public rooms and the LA SALLE housing the passenger staterooms. Very poor business decisions coupled with the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression resulted in the loss of nearly all overnight passenger service, with the lone exception of Blount Small Ship Adventures, at the end of 2008. For the first time in 200 years there were no steamboats on American rivers.

After a nearly four year absence, the AMERICAN QUEEN returned to the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers with new owners. Photo by Shawn J. Dake.

There are people that love classic ships and steamboats and then there are those that actually act on preserving something that is important to them. Great American Steamboat Company President Christopher Kyte was in the fortunate position to be able to combine both. When asked about the germination for reviving the AMERICAN QUEEN he said, “I first put this in motion in June of 2010 and Jeff Krida (CEO), John Waggoner (Chairman) of HMS, Greg Brown (Executive Vice-President of Operations) all started to come together in Fall, 2010. {Acquiring the vessel from} MARAD took forever but to be fair, financing any large project a few years ago, in the economic downturn was extremely difficult. It has been a very hard project to do and I fear that not many people will ever go down this road in the future, putting aside that there are very few existing US flag vessels one would consider.” I asked him if his team had a sense of the historical continuity of what had come before and how the Great American Steamboat Company was carrying on a 200 year tradition of overnight steamboats, with the AMERICAN QUEEN being the only one remaining? He replied “Of course we did. I am obsessed with American History and Jeff Krida, the CEO and ex Delta Queen president, is enamored with history, especially that of Steamboating and the South. We were all very aware of the legacy we hoped to do credit to.” Emulating the best elements from the Delta Queen Steamboat Company has been part of the decision making and planning since the earliest days the project was discussed. Kyte adds, “This too, was conscious. At its best, in the ’90’s, when Jeff was DQ President, having been aboard many times then, this was the apogee of a great distinctive holiday product. 90% of what was done then was authentic, inspired and a joy to experience. There is a lot to be said in this business for doing what worked well in the past and not re-inventing a new model every two years.”

Of Captains and Queens: Great American Steamboat Company CEO Jeff Krida, Priscilla Presley, and Chairman John Waggoner take questions in the Grand Saloon of the AMERICAN QUEEN on April 27, 2012. Photo by Shawn J. Dake.

The Great American Steamboat Company are well aware of the momentous events, both good and bad, that have led to this time of revival for Steamboatin’. Their stated intention is to run the AMERICAN QUEEN to a very high standard and make sure they have it perfected before even considering the possibility of expansion. To that end they have appointed Regina Charboneau as the Chef de Cuisine overseeing the menu and providing her signature specialty recipes. The Executive Chef and Sous Chef both come from hotel backgrounds following stints at the Ritz Carlton Hotels in Houston and New Orleans respectively. A new Hotel General Manager, Malcolm Chapple comes from a long background in the cruise industry beginning with P&O and most recently serving aboard Seabourn Cruise Line. Apollo Ship Chandlers, whose own portfolio includes Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, has been brought aboard to refine training of the hotel staff. Despite the prestigious international pedigree, “This has to be an authentic, classic American experience” Kyte says. With a brand new All-American staff, the philosophy of the company has been to hire for friendliness and train for service. The approach is certainly working, as for the most part this is among the friendliest crew to be found on any ship or boat.

Gillian delivers room service with a smile. Photo by Shawn J. Dake.

Aside from the human touch, there are practical reasons this venture should succeed. The initial capital investment was kept relatively low. At the present average per diems the company is able to break even at 68% occupancy levels. Rather than seeking government loans, Great American Steamboat Company owns the AMERICAN QUEEN outright. The steamboat, which had been mothballed at Beaumont, Texas was purchased from MARAD for $15.5 million. A further $6 million was invested in refurbishing the vessel. HMS Global Maritime provides the expertise in marine operations. Their chairman and CEO, John Waggoner, is also chairman of Great American Steamboat Company, and has 30 years experience in the passenger vessel industry. HMS Global Maritime provided critical services to the start-up company such as concept development, business plan development, financing, operations planning, vessel conversion and operations management to assure the safe, reliable operation of the AMERICAN QUEEN. The company also runs the fleet of Hornblower Dining Yachts. Like his fellow executives, John Waggoner is a ship and steamboat buff. As Mr. Kyte jokes, “John still lives his childhood dream of ‘playing with boats the rest of his life, so he would never have to grow up and get a real job.’”

Part of the new Beale Street Landing in Memphis, Tennessee. Photo by Shawn J. Dake.

In one of the best public-private partnerships to be seen in recent years, the Great American Steamboat Company has partnered with the City of Memphis to make this a winning situation for both parties. The project has the enthusiastic support of Mayor A.C. Wharton Jr., and many local investors. The company headquarters are located in the city and the steamboat’s homeport is there as well. To create jobs, 83% of the office staff and 70% of the crew of the AMERICAN QUEEN are locally hired Memphians. For it’s part Memphis has built the new Beale Street Landing and Waterfront Development which includes a state-of-the-art passenger terminal which includes a spiral ramp with gates at various levels to accommodate up to a 57 foot fluctuation in the water levels of the Mississippi River with a floating landing attached.

The Grand Staircase provides a warm welcome. Photo by Shawn J. Dake.

And there are few things more closely tied to the heart of the American experience than the sight of a steamboat, with a bright red paddlewheel, churning along the waters of the mighty Mississippi River. Tall funnels bow down to pass under low bridges. Barges pushed by towboats pass and their pilots come out on deck to wave and photograph the rarely seen sight of a huge steamboat, cruising along in the 21st century. A quiet hissing sound builds into a melodic whoosh as the steam whistle salutes the other boats and announces arrivals in the river towns along the way, just as it has been done for centuries. For those that have never taken a river cruise it may be difficult to envision a very slow voyage at no more than eight miles an hour being exciting. However once aboard, any trepidations quickly vanish. The pace of life slows, while at the same time there is more to do than there are hours in the day.

Your Stateroom might just be a River Room as are those found on the Observation Deck. Photo by Shawn J. Dake.
Cabins come equipped with Victorian furnishings and a flat-screen TV. Photo by Shawn J. Dake.

On this boat, your cabin doesn’t just have a number, it has a name. It might be a river, a famous person or even a “state” room which is how the term originated. Suddenly watching the passing scenery from your open cabin doors becomes a very important part of life. One thing that hasn’t been mentioned yet, is the unique addition that the Great American Steamboat Company has made to the shore side experience. A fleet of buses, known as Steamcoaches, are completely wrapped up to look like a steamboat traveling along the highways. They join the boat at each of the stops and provide a hop-on-hop-off service throughout the day, at no extra charge to passengers. Many of the admission prices to local attractions are also included. It is a really wonderful enhancement to the equally wonderful experiences on the water.

One of the greatest innovations to shore excursions ever, the complimentary Steamcoach. Photo by Shawn J. Dake.

Another inclusion designed to avoid the worries of late arrivals caused by airline travel is a complimentary, one-night pre-cruise stay at a luxury hotel in the embarkation port. While excellent food, service and entertainment are among the most important elements of a successful cruise, the little things count as well and the AMERICAN QUEEN provides items that other cruise lines don’t. All soft drinks, fruit juices, tea, Starbucks coffee, lattes, cappuccinos and bottled water can be found without charge at the Front Porch Of America. Eight selections of beverages can be dispensed from what one passenger described as “the best coffee machine ever!” In addition, beer and wine are complimentary at dinner.

Food, drinks and relaxation in the Front Porch Of America. Photo by Shawn J. Dake.

Although many of greatest words written about rivers and steamboats come from the pen of Mark Twain, others have been inspired as well. I have used this quote from William Least Heat-Moon before to describe the serenity found on the river, but it bears repeating. “River travel commonly makes this country appear as it ought to be… I could never really know America until I saw it from the bends and reaches of its flowing waters.” The legacy of steam boating nearly faded from the scene, but thankfully it has been revived and thrives once again aboard the AMERICAN QUEEN.

The AMERICAN QUEEN represents the best in United States river cruising. Photo by Shawn J. Dake.

It is nearly unprecedented to have a passenger vessel return to service from the obscurity of an early retirement in the government reserve fleet. The DELTA QUEEN did it in the 1940’s and now it’s successor the AMERICAN QUEEN has too. To revive a sealed up boat from abandonment in a lay up fleet where most of the other ships are waiting to go to scrap is a Herculean task, but the Great American Steamboat Company has done that admirably well. In the long history of steamboats, through the legacy of Greene Line Steamers and their successors the latest chapter in the story is just beginning. The future is history that hasn’t happened yet. Now, here in the present, the sound of a steam whistle and the sight of a big red paddlewheel signal that the steamboat AMERICAN QUEEN is back in business on the rivers of America.

Sincere thanks to Martin Cox, Nora Farrell, Gordon C. Greene, Peter Knego, Jeffrey Krida, Christopher Kyte, Tiffany Langston, Timothy Rubacky and John Waggoner.

Shawn Dake

Shawn Dake

Shawn J. Dake, freelance travel writer and regular contributor to MaritimeMatters, worked in tourism and cruise industry for over 35 years.  A native of Southern California, his first job was as a tour guide aboard the Queen Mary.  A frequent lecturer on ship-related topics he has appeared on TV programs.  Owner of Oceans Away Cruises & Travel agency, he served as President of the local Chapter of Steamship Historical Society of America.  With a love of the sea, he is a veteran of 115 cruises.
Shawn Dake
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