Delta Queen

Delta Queen cruise ship

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River Cruises

Delta Queen Review and Specifications

Specifications of Delta Queen

Year built1927  /  Age : 91
Flag state USA
BuilderWilliam Denny and Brothers Ltd (Dumbarton, Scotland) 1840-1963
Classpaddle-wheel steamboat
Building costUSD 0,875 million (1924 rates)
Length (LOA)87 m / 285 ft
Beam (width)18 m / 59 ft
Gross Tonnage1676 gt

Review of Delta Queen

Delta Queen is an authentic American sternwheel steamboat. The cruise ship has historically been used for cruising on major USA rivers constituting the tributaries of Mississippi River, mostly in the American South.

The riverboat was launched in 1925 and started cruising operations for the first time in 1927. Delta Queen was docked in Chattanooga Tennessee. The vessel served as a hotel ship until purchased by the newly established Delta Queen Steamboat Company. In March 2015, the vessel was towed to Houma Louisiana to be refurbished to its original condition.

Delta Queen steamboat cruise ship

The Delta Queen ship has cross-compound steam plant which engines generate 1500 kW power output. As propulsion, the ship is moved by its stern-mounted paddlewheel. This riverboat is the last surviving (original) overnight steam-powered cruise ship on Mississippi River.

Delta Queen steamboat cruise ship

In 1989, Delta Queen was designated a "National Historic Landmark" (NHL, officially recognized by the US government). As such, the cruise ship can't sail with over 50 passengers onboard - based on SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea Act) requirements issued in 1966. That law also prohibits overnight cruises on wooden ships. This historic riverboat feaurets a steel hull, but its public spaces and 88 cruise staterooms are mostly of wooden construction. Delta Queen sailed for decades under SOLAS exemption, but this expired in 2008.

  • In July 2015, two US senators from Ohio state introduced a bill that would let the riverboat Delta Queen to operate once again overnight passenger cruise service. The bill is companion to a legislation introduced in March 2015. The new legislation would require the installation of modern safety equipment and would grant the riverboat a 15-years exemption to the SOLAS rule (standard practice untill 2008).
  • Currently, the cruise ship is undergoing refits in Houma Louisiana. The refurbishment project is led by Delta Queen Steamboat Company's President and CEO Cornel J. Martin. His partners (Leah and Randy Ingram) operated the vessel as a moored ship hotel in Chattanooga Tennessee.
  • The steamboat's refit and refurbishment estimated cost was around USD 5 million.

Delta Queen used to cruise on Mississippi and its tributaries. The regularly scheduled itineraries ranged from New Orleans to Memphis, St Louis, St Paul, Cincinnati, and more.

Delta Queen cruise ship model

Note: You can see the CruiseMapper's list of all river cruise ships and riverboats in the "itinerary" section of our River Cruises hub. All companies and their fleets are listed there. For similarly-designed (stern paddlewheel) US riverboats you can check the fleets of American Cruise Lines and American Queen Steamboat Company. Also similar (but way smaller) is the Australian cruise ship Murray Princess.

Delta Queen wiki

  • An unusual feature of the Delta Queen steamboat is the onboard steam calliope mounted on Texas Deck (aft of the pilot house / navigation bridge). Calliope is a musical instrument producing sounds by sending steam through large whistles. The riverboat's calliope covers about 3 octaves, and was used to play the vessel while docking (berthing) and undocking. Sometimes, the ship's Master (Captain) extended this courtesy to other ships as well.
  • The music band "The Country Gentlemen" (with Charlie Waller as its leader) recorded the song "Delta Queen" as part of their 1974 album named "Remembrances and Forecasts". Written by Pete Goble and Leroy Drumm, the song was inspired after Leroy saw the mighty ship cruising down Tennessee River in the early 1970s.
  • For a few years, there've been rumours about the ghost of Mary Greene haunting the Delta Queen ship. Mary was the wife of Gordon Greene - Greene Line's founder. River boat Captain in her own right, the woman died on the ship on April 22, 1949. Since then, ship employees and passengers have reported strange occurrences and sounds onboard which they attribute to Mary's ghost, particularly around her former quarters.
  • Delta Queen has a sister-ship - Delta King (launched 1925). The sister-ship was christened in May 1927 and used to operate in California (between Sacramento and San Francisco) on 10-hour long river cruise itineraries. In 1981, Delta King sank while laid up in Richmond CA. As the damage to the boat was minor, it was raised and towed to Sacramento CA (its current location). Today, Delta King serves as a hotel ship (44 rooms) and features an award-winning onboard restaurant. The ship also doubles as Capital Stage - run by an onboard professional theater company. This riverboat is also listed in Sacramento's NRHP (National Register of Historic Places) as object deemed worthy of preservation.

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