A year after the pandemic canceled the debut of AQSC-American Queen Steamboat Company's 4th paddle-wheeler riverboat American Countess, godmother Angie Hack cracked a Maker's Mark bottle across the vessel's boiler deck to launch her inaugural voyage from New Orleans (Port NOLA, Louisiana) to Memphis TN.
Just before the newbuild was christened by Hack, one of his 3 daughters, American Queen chairman & CEO John Waggoner told guests he could not believe they were "actually here."
"So I'm going to pinch myself before I start my speech."
American Countess can accommodate up to 245 passengers and 110 crew members.
Angie Hack told guests of her father, "Papa John's," vision for American Countess, which was constructed from a casino boat that was stripped to her shell, cut in half, lengthened by 60 ft (18 m) and then "transformed into this world-class vessel."
"I challenge all of you to find the seam."
A week ago, AQSC operated the first cruises since the pandemic with the first of 2 charters of the 166-passenger ship American Duchess. Meanwhile, ACL-American Cruise Lines launched its first river sailing in more than a year with a trip of American Jazz.
All passengers were required to arrive in Port NOLA the day before to be tested for Covid prior to boarding. Starting July 1, 2021, the cruise company will require that all travelers are vaccinated.