The Great American Steamboat Company’s American Queen arrived in its homeport of Memphis today after her first voyage up the Mississippi River since 2008. The U.S.-flagged steamboat was welcomed to the revitalized Beale Street Landing marking the return of overnight cruises on the great rivers of America’s heartland and the continuation of the Delta Queen Steamboat Company legacy.
Originally built in 1995 by the Delta Queen Steamboat Company, the American Queen is the largest and most opulent steamboat ever built accommodating 436-guests. Steeped in history, nostalgia and tradition, the steamboat offers an unrivaled All-American hospitality experience from its elegant staterooms to its palatial public spaces and celebrated Southern cuisine of famed Chef Regina Charboneau, the line’s Culinary Director.
“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, it was met by the city’s residents and family members of the crew. The 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.
Guests began disembarking to explore sites including Graceland and the legendary ducks of the Peabody Hotel boarded the vessel for an honorary inspection on behalf of Memphis. Friday, April 27, Priscilla Presley will serve as godmother of the American Queen in an afternoon christening ceremony at Beale Street Landing. Presley and the Great American Steamboat Company share a common passion towards the city of Memphis which will be a theme of the festivities featuring performances by local musicians, the sounds of the American Queen Calliope and a bottle of champagne crashing against the hull.
After the christening, the American Queen will depart for her inaugural voyage up the Mississippi River to the Ohio River with stops in Henderson, Ky., Louisville, Ky., and Madison, Ind., before arriving in her disembarkation city of 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.