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Here's some news that should float the boat of steamboat aficionados: The paddlewheeler American Queen will again offer overnight trips on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, with some itineraries originating in Minneapolis/St. Paul.
Since 2008, the Delta Queen's last season, no steamboat has plied the great waterways of the heartland on overnight excursions. The Delta Queen, which was built in the late 1920s, is docked in Chattanooga, related to a floating hotel. The American Queen, which was built in 1995 and went out of service in 2008, is now owned by the Great American Steamboat Company. The 418-foot-long boat and its 222 staterooms is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation in New Orleans. The company, based in Memphis, plans to begin offering 3- to 11-night trips on April 13, 2012.
"Steamboats have run through the heartland of this country for 200 years, " said Tim Rubacky, senior vice president of marketing for the company. "Aside from being a commercial endeavor, this was a piece of America’s history."
Though Itineraries are set, they won't be released to the public until the company gets its final approval from the Federal Maritime Commission. Rubacky says that could happen as early as next week. He expects sales to begin the last week in September. For more information, go to www.greatamericansteamboatcompany.com.