The Victory Belles perform during American Eagle’s launch. // © 2015 American Cruise Lines
Feature image (above): The 150-passenger steamboat features a patriotic theme. // © 2015 American Cruise Lines
American Cruise Lines has launched American Eagle, its second ship in New Orleans. The 150-passenger steamboat will offer various cruises on the lower Mississippi River between New Orleans and Memphis, Tenn.
New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu served as guest of honor for American Eagle’s spring launch, and his wife, Cheryl, christened the new riverboat, moments before the city became drenched by a thunderstorm.
“Cruising has become a big, big, big business in this country, and New Orleans has made a large dent in it,” Mitch Landrieu said.
Contributing to American Eagle’s patriotic theme are antiques and artwork collected by Charles A. Robertson, CEO of American Cruise Lines, from the streets of New Orleans.
“I’m so proud to be part of this launch in New Orleans, which is probably my favorite city in the world,” he said.
American Eagle preserves the charming nostalgia of past steamboats but includes present-day comforts: six lounges, an outdoor exercise area and putting green, the elegant Mark Twain Library and chart room, elevators to all levels and Top Deck Cafe, where guests enjoy snacks and conversation with a scenic view.
There is no assigned seating for the dining room, which allows passengers to choose their own dining partners, according to Drew Godfrey, hotel manager for American Cruise Lines. Onboard cuisine for the cruise line reflects the style of a ship’s homeport, so American Eagle will serve Cajun and Creole dishes to celebrate New Orleans’ Southern-style cooking.
American Eagle lays claim to the most spacious staterooms of any Mississippi riverboat, with accommodations running from 300 to 600 square feet. Seventy-eight of the 84 staterooms feature private balconies, and amenities include Wi-Fi access, satellite television with DVD players and spacious bathrooms. The fifth deck is particularly popular with cruisers because of its desirable views of the river.
“Passengers love it,” Godfrey said of the fifth deck, which is the ship’s top level. “The higher they are, the better the view.”
New technology installed onboard the ship will enable it to operate more efficiently and leave fewer emissions in the river, according to Robertson. American Eagle contains three Z-drive propeller engines that allow for better maneuvering and less energy consumption.
American Eagle itineraries, like those of its sister ship, Queen of the Mississippi, include roundtrip voyages from New Orleans to Natchez and Vicksburg, Miss., with stops along the river in Louisiana such as St. Francisville, Baton Rouge and Oak Alley Plantation, a national historic landmark near the city of Vacherie. Roundtrip voyages to Memphis and St. Louis from New Orleans, as well as trips from St. Louis to St. Paul, Minn., are also available.
Sailings include extended visits to port cities and river towns, educational events and music and entertainment from artists such as The Victory Belles, a troupe that often performs American standards at The National WWII Museum in New Orleans. Some voyages will focus on a theme, including jazz, the Civil War or holidays.