American Queen Steamboat Company today introduced a new vessel, the American Duchess, which is expected to set sail June 2017. The new ship joins the U.S.-flagged ships the American Queen and the American Empress, making it the third vessel of the Memphis-based company.
The American Duchess will feature 83 all-suite cabins for a capacity of 166 passengers sailing roundtrip itineraries to New Orleans and Nashville from Memphis. Guests will also be able to depart from Chicago, which will serve as a turn city, for the first time.
The American Duchess was purchased on Aug. 21, and Ted Sykes, president and COO of American Queen Steamboat Company, says, “We are introducing it [American Duchess] to take pressure off the American Queen, which is sailing full.” The introduction of the new American Duchess is a good example of the law of economics put to the test—a product created out of demand. “Demand for more capacity on the Mississippi River has been overwhelming the past two seasons and we look forward to delivering a new boutique, all-suite experience and the flexibility of two riverboats sailing between New Orleans and St. Paul,” he notes in press materials.
The new vessel will undergo a complete rebuild of the purchased American-made hull, which will include the addition of a third deck and a paddlewheel to assist with propulsion. From its homeport in Memphis, the American Duchess will also be able to “serve as a hotel for guests while in Nashville,” adds Sykes, as it will be offering 2-night stays in the Music City to allow guests to fully take in all that Nashville has to offer. In addition, shorter roundtrip itineraries from Nashville and New Orleans will be offered.
Also new on the American Duchess are “the largest suites in every cabin category,” says Sykes. “What will set it apart will be the luxury of space and the furnishings’ finish, plus open single seating in two dining venues,” he adds. The Grand Dining Room will have the capacity to seat the entire vessel, and the Grill Room will seat about half of the vessel per seating. Guests should expect the same or higher level of service, entertainment, and shore excursions they’ve seen on the American Queen.
There will be three 550-sq.-ft. Owner Suites on the vessel; plus four 550-sq.-ft. Lofts will be introduced on the upper and lower level. The Veranda Suite will be about 240 sq. ft. larger than some of the competitors’ Owner Suites, according to Sykes. He also notes that the layout will be a little different than the American Queen as it’ll also include a lookout room and a coffee shop.
As for those popular holiday markets itineraries, Sykes says, “The last four cruises of the year have holiday markets that have been very popular. We’re doing it again this year, and in 2017 we’ll do Christmas markets in Nashville because that’s become a real hot destination. They do a fabulous job in Nashville, that’s why we think both Nashville and New Orleans will be fabulous for the cruises.”
Agents, bookings for the American Duchess will open on Oct. 1 and pricing can be expected to be slightly higher than the current pricing for the American Queen. For more information, visit americanqueensteamboatcompany.com.