Current Affairs

Dale-100x140 Paddlewheeler headed to boatyard, not Super Bowl

January 15, 2013

The American Queen Steamboat Co. has canceled its Feb. 7 and Feb. 15 sailings aboard the  American Queen.  Instead, the Queen will be in the shipyard getting work done on its paddlewheel, which includes building a more durable drive shaft. The refurbished vessel entered service last April. 

The repair work also means the 436-passenger, 418'x85'x13' American Queen won’t be hosting fans over Super Bowl weekend in New Orleans from Jan. 31 to Feb. 4. The company was marketing a block of rooms for $579,000.

American Queen

Instead, the Memphis, Tenn.-based company will be spending an unspecified amount to get the boat in shape for its first voyage of the season scheduled for Feb. 23 from New Orleans.

“The safety and reliability of the American Queen is our top priority and her drive shaft must be completely rebuilt,” president and COO Ted Sykes said in a statement. “This additional time in layup is needed to custom-build a much stronger drive shaft with a 40- to 50-year lifespan, as well as reinstall the iconic paddlewheel.”

Additional work includes painting and wallpapering public spaces and staterooms, a new Front Porch Café and updates to the J.M. White Dining Room and Engine Room Bar, the company said.

The vessel, one of two paddlewheelers that brought regular overnight cruising back to the Mississippi River in 2012, had been tied up in Beaumont, Texas, after the 2008 collapse of previous owner Majestic America Lines.

Before entering service again, she underwent a $6.5 million facelift — more than half of which was for mechanical and control systems — at Bollinger Shipyards. “The boat was in pretty rough shape,” engineer Marvin Williams told WorkBoat. “Two years of laying up is worse than 10 years of operation.”

The rebuilding of the 1995 riverboat included the 65-ton paddlewheel, the Z-drives, its steam engine, rudder extensions, DC motors and diesel engines.

Passengers booked on the canceled cruises will get a full refund and reimbursement for travel-related expenses or a $250 per person credit for rebooking and an upgrade to the best available stateroom.


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