Proudly posted on the back of the riverboat is the American Queen’s new homeport – Memphis, Tennessee.
“We are very happy to be the new home of the American Queen,” said Jonathan Lyons, public relation manager for the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Our city officials worked hard to get that honor.”
A major part of those efforts to please the American Queen and it’s passengers, Memphis recently constructed Beale Street Landing. The ambitious docking facility can accommodate 50-foot shifts in the Mississippi River’s height.
After a decade of design, planning, construction and a difficult budget, the Riverfront Development Corporation’s $43 million Beale Street Landing project officially opened June 28, 2014.
Beale Street Landing’s dock, where passengers load onto the American Queen and other riverboats, is made from barges so it can rise and fall with the river. Passengers can reach the boat by walking down the landing’s ramp. For those with mobility problems, golf carts are available to get to the boat.
And the new Beale Street Landing should get plenty of use, Memphis officials said. The American Queen docks here 13 times a year. The Queen of the Mississippi docks 15 times a year. The Grande Mariner and the Grande Caribe from the Blount cruise line both dock here four times a year. A local sightseeing cruise boat, the Island Queen, takes passengers on cruises twice a day.
Next to the landing is a small park with gardens and seats where people can sit and watch the river flow. A playground, restaurant and gift shop also are part of the project.
With such a great landing and such a marvelous homeport, cruise passengers might want to plan to spend a couple of extra days in Memphis before or after a cruise.
Story by Jackie Sheckler Finch