Duchess Christening / Marissa Applegate

The American Queen Steamboat Company’s American Duchess was christened in New Orleans on Monday.

The 166-guest riverboat, the first all-suite paddlewheeler on America’s rivers, officially joins the company’s fleet with the American Queen and the American Empress, based in the Pacific Northwest.

Marissa Applegate, daughter of Chairman and CEO John Waggoner, is the godmother of the American Duchess and broke a bottle of Maker’s Mark bourbon on the boat’s hull culminating the ceremonial festivities, according to a statement.

“I could not be more appreciative of all the hard work from every person involved in making the American Duchess dream come true; it’s times like these that I am reminded just how incredible this team and family is,” shared American Queen Steamboat Company Chairman and CEO John Waggoner. “Thank you for being here to witness this special celebration with our entire crew and myself. We are thrilled to welcome the American Duchess to our fleet.” 

During the ceremony remarks were made by executives and dignitaries including John Waggoner, American Queen Steamboat Company Chairman and CEO; Ted Sykes, American Queen Steamboat Company President and COO; Wayne Arguin, New Orleans Port Captain at the U.S. Coast Guard and Bill Samuels, Jr., Chairman of Maker’s Mark. Joy Manthey of Seaman’s Church blessed the American Duchess and the ceremony concluded with a bourbon presentation by Maker’s Mark to celebrate the line’s partnership with American Queen Steamboat Company. 

“The American Duchess is a culmination of our company’s core values and finest attributes, poised to deliver our trademark level of gracious service, first-class entertainment, superlative fine dining and award-winning shore excursions,” described American Queen Steamboat Company President and COO Ted Sykes. “With the first Loft Suites on U.S. rivers, she is an innovation that will no doubt set new standards for excellence within the industry.”

“In addition to the pride I take being the godmother of the American Duchess today, it has been such a joy to stand by my father and watch him grow this company from the ground up," said Applegate. “Thank you to everyone for bestowing this honor on me and letting me be a part of this special day.”

After the christening, the American Duchess will be departing on her maiden voyage up the Mississippi River with stops in Natchez, Ms., Vicksburg, Ms., Memphis, Tn., Paducah, Ky., St. Louis, Mo., and other ports before arriving in her disembarkation city of Red Wing, Mn. near the northern terminus of the river.