With cruises on America’s waterways rising in popularity, the owner and operator of American Queen and American Empress, American Queen Steamboat Company, announced their new ship American Duchess will join the U.S.-flagged fleet June 2017.
Construction begins soon on a recently purchased American-made hull that will become the third vessel of the Memphis-based company. The all-suite American Duchess will be the first purpose-built boutique paddlewheeler offering the river cruiser an intimate experience through America’s heartland. She will feature the largest suites on the river in every category, which will be fitted to the American Queen Steamboat Company’s highest standards.
The 166-guest American Duchess follows in the pedigree of the line’s namesake American Queen, sailing the mighty Mississippi and her tributaries. New for the line, the American Duchess will offer overnight stays in port including the heart of Nashville as well as shorter roundtrip itineraries from the “Music City” and New Orleans. For added convenience, guests can also enjoy departures from Chicago (Ottawa, Illinois) for the first time.
“The American Queen Steamboat Company has led the way in a rebirth of U.S. river cruising as thousands discover our heartland and the Pacific Northwest, served by an award-winning, All-American crew,” shares Ted Sykes, company president and COO.
“Demand for more capacity on the Mississippi River has been overwhelming the past two seasons and we look forward to delivering a new boutique, all-suite experience and the flexibility of two riverboats sailing between New Orleans and Saint Paul.”
The American Duchess will feature a generous space ratio showcased by three 550 sq. ft. Owner’s Suites, four 550 sq. ft. Loft Suites, a U.S. riverboat first; and spacious Veranda Suites and Interior Suites. The new vessel will be incorporating the highest standards of service, entertainment and shore excursions customers have come to expect from the American Queen Steamboat Company. Featuring open seating with two dining venues, The Grand Dining Room and The Grill Room will offer regionally inspired cuisine similar to that of the American Queen.
“In five short years, the American Queen Steamboat Company has grown to over 500 employees and we look forward to hiring about 100 more, right here in the U.S., in anticipation of the American Duchess inaugural season,” shared John Waggoner, the line’s chairman as well as president and CEO of HMS Global Maritime, operator of over 85 U.S.-flagged vessels.
“I am proud of the economic impact we continue to have in leading U.S. river cruising, which can be seen in our homeport of Memphis and the many cities we visit including New Orleans and St. Louis.”