For the past week or so, the hopes of a re-birth of overnight river boat cruises on the Mississippi River seemed to have died with the closure of Cruise West. It was just this past June that Cruise West announced with great fanfare their intention to relocate one of their West Coast-based ships to the Mississippi River in 2011. Regularly scheduled overnight river boat cruises on the Mississippi River ended in 2008, when the Delta Queen Steamships sailed for the last time.
But now along comes American Cruise Lines, with the welcome news that they will fill the void. On Tuesday of this week, the following was released to the press:
“American Cruise Lines has announced it is expanding to the Mississippi River system with a brand new sternwheeler, already under construction at Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury,MD. It plans to operate the new riverboat on routes similar to those formerly run by Delta QueenSteamboat Company, which will include the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, and Cumberland Rivers.
Cruising the Mississippi River on a sternwheeler is a true all-American experience that American CruiseLines is pleased to bring back. The new paddlewheeler will recreate the grandeur of past riverboats while possessing the latest safety, environmental and construction technologies. The ship will have the look of a traditional riverboat along with more amenities, a faster speed, and an unmatched level of comfort. Features include six unique lounges, a library, an elegant dining salon, elevator service to all decks, and the exceptionally large staterooms found on all American Cruise Lines ships. With only 140 passengers, each guest will receive personalized service in the intimate and friendly atmosphere for which American Cruise Lines has become known.
The first cruise is a scheduled to depart August 11, 2012 from New Orleans, Louisiana on a 7-night journey up the Mississippi to Memphis, Tennessee. The ship will then begin a series of 7-night cruises travelling as far north as St. Paul, Minnesota while utilizing its remarkable speed to open up new itinerary possibilities. As on all true riverboats, a stage and bow ramp will give the ship access to the many interesting ports without docking facilities.”
The purpose-built, 5 deck paddlewheeler won’t begin service for almost two years, further delaying the highly anticipated resumption of overnight river boat cruises on the Mississippi River. It is, however, anticipation delayed, not anticipation dashed.