American Cruise Lines new paddlewheeler, the American Eagle (later to be renamed Queen of the Mississippi), was christened April 25 in a ceremony held on the bow of the ship, featuring godmother Cheryl Landrieu, wife of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
As guests watched from ship's forward decks, there were speeches from Mr. Landrieu and Charles Robertson (American Cruise Lines CEO), as well as an a cappella concert by the local trio Victory Belles.
Then, Mrs. Landrieu smashed the bottle of champagne into the bow railing of American Cruise Lines' second Mississippi riverboat, based in New Orleans.
At 3,800 GT, the 150-passenger American Eagle is a near-twin to Queen of the Mississippi (built in 2012). Both paddlewheelers will be joined by a 3rd, 180-passenger boat next year.
American Eagle is the most ecologically friendly ship operated by the line. It features advanced water purification equipment minimizing the effects of discharges into the Mississippi river. The hydraulic paddlewheel benefits from 3 energy-efficient Z-drive propellers rotating 360 degrees for precise positioning of the vessel.
On American Eagle the crew quarters (located on Deck 5 on Queen of the Mississippi), have been relocated to the 1st deck, with guest staterooms and suites on the 5th deck - for a better view.
78 of 84 staterooms on board, ranging from 300 to 600 sq.feet, have balconies, so passengers can have their breakfast alfresco if they choose.
American Cruise Line is noted for serving local food, and the focus on American Eagle is Cajun and Creole cuisine.
Throughout the paddlewheeler, there are small and large lounges, as well as a wide range of facilities including: an intimate library, showroom, card room and chart room; a terrace with exercise machines; a putting course; open and shaded deck space; complimentary self-service launderette; 3 computer terminals and free WiFi access.
Following the christening ceremony, the American Eagle departed on her 7-night maiden cruise up the Lower Mississippi, calling at Natchez, Vicksburg, Saint Francisville and Vacherie (Louisiana).