RIVERBOAT MAY PLY DIFFERENT WATERWAYS
The Queen of the West , which American Cruise Lines is buying from Ambassadors I nternational , may return to cruising the Columbia River or strike out for the Mississippi. Wherever it goes, the new owners plan to reduce the sternwheeler’s passenger capacity from 142 to 130 and make some suites larger, said ACL CEO Charles Robertson. Guilford, Conn.-based ACL, with four vessels and a fifth due out next year, primarily operates overnight cruises along the East Coast. If the company decides to operate on the Mississippi, Robertson said he would focus on “smaller, better and faster vessels” than previous operators on the river. Launched in 1995, the Queen is one of six riverboats once part of Ambassador ‘s Majestic America Line , a money-losing operation that included the historic Delta Queen . The fleet was tied up and put up for sale last year. Two of the vessels, which were built with Title XI loan guarantees, are being marketed by the Maritime Administration. Asked if he’s interested in any other Majestic vessels, Robertson said, “Not at this time.” The deal is expected to close before Nov. 20. Terms were not disclosed.