American Cruise Lines (ACL) announced this week that construction of its new 150-passenger paddlewheeler, the Queen of the Mississippi, is nearing completion at Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Md. Last week, the massive 23-ton, 28 foot-wide paddlewheel built specially for the new riverboat was lifted and installed. ACL also owns and operates Chesapeake Shipbuilding.
You can watch the installation of the paddlewheel here:
“This marks an important step in the creation of this authentic riverboat,” said Timothy Beebe, vice president of American Cruise Lines. “The paddlewheel is one of the most important elements of classic riverboats, and this one isn’t just cosmetic – it’s fully functioning.”
The Queen of the Mississippi will be completed in May, with its inaugural cruise scheduled for August 11, 2012, from New Orleans to Memphis. Currently, the interior is well underway with carpeting being installed throughout the ship and furniture beginning to go onboard. All sliding glass doors leading to the private balconies are in place and painting is just about complete. Woodwork trim and antique-style accessories are bringing the period interior to life. Sea trials are scheduled to begin later on this month.
Charles Robertson, the company’s president, told WorkBoat earlier this year that his new passenger vessel “is our best selling product right now.”
The Queen of the Mississippi carries 150 guests in spacious staterooms, many of which are twice the size of those on any other Mississippi riverboat. Staterooms feature large private balconies with sliding glass doors and all of the amenities today’s travelers expect, while maintaining the elegance of classic late 1800s Mississippi riverboats. ACL will operate the authentic paddlewheeler over the entire Mississippi River System, including the Ohio and Cumberland Rivers. The Queen of the Mississippi is designed to travel at a maximum speed of 14 knots, minimizing night travel and making more itineraries possible with longer visits to the river towns. A number of unique riverboat journeys are planned that take passengers as far north as St. Paul, Minn., on the Mississippi River and as far east as Pittsburgh on the Ohio River.
The rest of ACL’s fleet is doing well, Robertson said. “Passenger bookings are way ahead of last year, and last year was by far our best year both for revenue and profits across all itineraries.”