A new royal riverboat is now cruising America’s rivers. The American Countess was christened in New Orleans on March 21 and is now on her way for an eight-day journey to Memphis.
“As we celebrate the grand debut of the American Countess, I could not be more appreciative of the incredible team that made it possible,” John Waggoner, founder and CEO of American Queen Steamboat Company, said in a news release.
The fourth boat to join the American Queen Steamboat Company fleet, the American Duchess will cruise the Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee rivers.
“We listened to our returning guests’ feedback on what they would like to see in a new riverboat and created a contemporary American masterpiece that guests are eager to experience,” Waggoner said.
Waggoner’s daughter Angie Hack was named the American Countess’ godmother and christened the new vessel with a bottle of Maker’s Mark Bourbon, a signature American Queen Steamboat Company tradition.
The bourbon bottle was presented by award-winning restaurateur and New Orleans native, Dickie Brennan, for the christening event at the Mansion House at Mardi Gras World and dockside.
“Year after year, American Queen Steamboat Company has played an essential role in the U.S. river cruising renaissance benefitting the state of Louisiana from building boats in our shipyards, showcasing our iconic river cities and quaint towns to putting a spotlight on our state through its marketing efforts,” Billy Nungesser, Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana, said in a news release.
“It was an honor to see this Louisiana-built gem today, and I look forward to her bringing thousands of travelers through ‘The Pelican State,’” Nungesser said.
Following the christening and preview cruise, the American Countess will begin her maiden voyage revenue cruise on March 28, sailing from Memphis to New Orleans.
The eight-day journey will showcase the diversity of the Lower Mississippi River on an eight-day sailing beginning with a stop at the Port of the Mississippi Delta and continuing down the river to Vicksburg, Natchez, St. Francisville, Baton Rouge and the American Queen Steamboat Company exclusive port stop at Nottoway Plantation before arriving in New Orleans.
Built using the existing hull of former gaming vessel the Kanesville Queen, the American Countess was lengthened by 60-feet and underwent a total renovation in the Gulf Island Shipyard in Houma, Louisiana.
Her sleek, contemporary design offers plenty of open space for guest gatherings, especially the portside bar, which will delight guests with an 80-foot panoramic view. With four decks, including a Sun Deck, and 123 inviting staterooms in four categories, this paddlewheeler is a home away from home for 245 guests on six- to 15-day itineraries.
The christening follows the American Duchess’ recent return to service with reduced guest capacity on March 15 on the Mississippi River. The American Empress and flagship American Queen will sail later this year.
American Queen Steamboat Company resumed its operations with newly enacted health and safety protocols which include, but are not limited to, mask mandates in all public areas where social distancing is not possible, 100 percent testing of all guests and crew and mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for all guests and crew that will go into effect for all sailings beginning July 1, 2021.
Photos courtesy of American Queen Steamboat Company