From USA Today
The largest steamboat in the world soon may be back in operation on the Mississippi River.
Several Memphis-area news outlets including the Memphis Daily News in recent days have reported on rapidly solidifying plans to revive the 436-passenger American Queen, which hasn’t sailed since the 2008 shutdown of the Majestic America Line.
The Memphis Daily News says a newly formed company relying on local investors hopes to have the 16-year-old paddlewheeler on the water with paying passengers by spring 2012.
“It creates a great opportunity for us,” John Waggoner, CEO of the newly formed Great American Steamboat Co., tells the news outlet. “This is the first time in 192 years there has not been an overnight cruise go down the Mississippi River.”
Once robust, the overnight cruise business on the Mississippi River system has collapsed in recent years with the back-to-back shutdowns of the Delta Queen Steamboat Co. in 2001 and the Majestic America Line in 2008.
Built in 1995 at a cost of $60 million, the 418-foot-long American Queen sailed for both lines in an on-again-off-again career on America’s waterways that has seen it laid up as much as it has been in operation.
“If we are completely full on the American Queen … we would still only service 42% of the market that was once served four years ago,” Waggoner notes.
Photo courtesy of Delta Queen Cruise Lines