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After a long drought on U.S. rivers, 2012 will see two river cruise companies operating out of U.S. river ports, including New Orleans; Cincinnati, Ohio; Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Mo.; and Minneapolis/St. Paul next year.
American Cruise Lines, which operates a fleet of small ships in the industry on more than 30 unique itineraries along the inland waterways and rivers of the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and the East Coast, from New England to Florida, is building its first new paddlewheel ship in many years. The sternwheeler, Queen of the Mississippi, will debut Aug. 11, combining the grandeur of riverboats with modern amenities and greater speed than traditional vessels, allowing for more time in port. With 75 staterooms and seven lounges, private balconies and large staterooms, she will operate seven-, 10- and 14-day cruises. Entertainment options will include solo acts, live Dixieland bands and dancing onboard, and passengers will be able to play the ship’s calliope.
The Great American Steamboat Company is bringing the 436-passenger renovated sternwheeler, American Queen, to U.S. rivers on April 13 for its first season of three- to 14-day departures. The largest of the former Delta Queen ships, the American Queen, will now sail with a wellness instructor, mountain bikes, pillowtop mattress, five dining venues with no upcharges, five entertainment areas, room service in the morning and nine single staterooms with no supplement. Trips of all lengths include a complimentary luxury hotel stay prior to boarding, including breakfast and transfers to the ship. Celebrity chef Regina Charboneau has planned a range of regional dishes, including beignets and bread pudding, but stressed that the line can accommodate dietary restrictions.
American Cruise Lines800-814-6880www.americancruiselines.com
Great American Steamboat Company888-749-5280www.GreatAmericanSeamboatCompany.com