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Thomas Hawkins 06-05-2007 12:33 AM

DQ Exemption
I was looking at my email. MAL sent out a letter to past passengers asking us to write to our senators. They also include all of the links for the states. The letter mentioned there is some oposition. Does anyone know who they are referring to? I would like to send them a letter as well. Thanks

Jo Ann Schoen 06-05-2007 09:20 AM

I didn't get a letter, but a traveling buddy forwarded it to me. I'd like allot more information, but the letter didn't have a person or phone number to contact within the company. Majestic America Line, if you are listening, this forum would be a great place to get the word out that you need help. But we'd like to know more.

Darin Schuld 06-05-2007 10:34 AM

They need to keep operating the DQ as long as the boat is able to operate. And, from the looks of it, the DQ is doing pretty good for its age. It's still a huge draw, despite its lack of "upscale amenities". The Belle of Louisville is still cooking along in her 90s, too, although it is not a wood-based boat. So, if it takes spending the money to save the DQ, I'd rather see it spent there than on the MQ. Why trade a classic for a steam powered shoe box?

Thomas Hawkins 06-05-2007 10:53 AM

I am no legal expert in SOLAS, but to get around it, why not have the passengers sign a release of responsibility if there were a fire?

I also have a hypothesis about the MQ. I think MAL is waiting on the outcome of the DQ. If DQ wins, MQ gets mothballed. If DQ loses, MQ gets rebuilt. It almost seems like that is the reason why they are talking about reducing the #of MQ rooms, if they rebuild it.

Also, if the MQ is supposed to be back in March of '08, would not rip out and demo have to start soon? I am a construction mgr and a nine month schedule on a job of this nature seems somewhat tight, given the complexities of the MQ and the problemss that need to be resolved.

Franz Neumeier 06-05-2007 04:17 PM

Here is the request for support from MAL
Here is the request for support from MAL. I think it's now very important to support the renewal of the SOLAS exemption for the DELTA QUEEN without questioning the plans of MAL regarding the DQ, the MQ or what ever.

Everything negative in this process of convincing the Congress to issue a new exemption is endangering the DQ, though it might seem to be decent and sensemaking to discuss.

Remember: The Unions (and I clearly see the issues involved in this, too!) are trying to use their power to enforce new contracts for their members with MAL. If the Union is not successful in using the DQ exemption issue in their fight with MAL, this could also mean the end for the DELTA QUEEN. I'm very well aware of the two edges of what I'm saying, but my personal opinion is: Let's not risk that the DELTA QUEEN will be history. Let the Union do its work; they're powerful enough to do this on their own. But the DELTA QUEEN really needs a strong lobby!


(And I really hope that the Union members reading this won't hate me for what I've written. I know about the conflict between the Union and MAL. But this is one thing; the exemption for the DQ is an other thing. And these two things shouldn't be mixed in any way.)

[B]Here now is the letter from MAL:[/B]

Dear Friend of the Delta Queen:

As many of you know, the Delta Queen was built in 1926 and in 1970 was
registered as an historic treasure by the Department of Interior and the
National Trust for Historic Preservation. Although the vessel's hull is
made of steel, its superstructure is constructed of wood. As such, it
must have a statutory exemption from the Coast Guard's fire retardant
materials regulations for its operations on the Mississippi and Ohio
Rivers to continue. That is the reason we are writing you today, to help
us extend her operating license beyond the current exemption, which
expires in November, 2008.

For the past 40 years, the Delta Queen has operated pursuant to
exemption that has been extended no less than 6 times. In fact in 2006,
under the previous Congress, a further 10 year extension was passed by
the House of Representatives, but, due to mid-term elections, the bill
never made it to the Senate. Now, what was believed to be a routine
matter is meeting with some opposition from union interest groups by
questioning her safety.

As we have discussed with you together and individually before, we are
committed to extending the operating license of the Delta Queen for many
years to come, but union opposition to the extension in which they
expressed their concern regarding her safety has created some
uncertainty in Washington DC. We are working hard to demonstrate to the
Congress the Delta Queen's excellent safety record, the merits of our
training program and quality and experience of our crew, but we need
your help as well.

Please call or e-mail the Congressman listed in this e-mail, and let
them know the following plus any additional feelings that you may have
regarding her safety, how special the Delta Queen is and that your jobs
and livelihood are important:

As a Friend of the Delta Queen, I am concerned that Congress may put
this great ship out of business unless action is taken to extend the
Delta Queen's license to operate before the end of 2008. The Delta Queen
is an historic treasure that provides employment, generates economic
activity for small businesses up and down the Mississippi River and its
tributaries and provides pleasure for tens of thousands of passengers.
Please talk to Chairman James Oberstar (or Chairman Daniel Inouye) and
tell them you strongly support saving the Delta Queen.

Lexie Palmore 06-05-2007 05:43 PM

Thanks for that valuable information. Many of us remember well the battle royal the DQ had in getting the first exemption. It was touch and go. A huge petition was compiled and taken to Congress. Betty Blake was everywhere pushing to "Save the Queen". The big bad wolf in that battle was the U.S. Coast Guard, or to be more specific, the head of the USCG. He was 'agin' it' through and through. Since then, the exemptions have been easy, but there has always been the question about a permanent exemption. The DQ should have gotten a permanent exemption decades ago. Why this has not happened is beyond me. So we have to go through all this nonsense, once again. It gets wearisome.

Shipyard Sam 06-05-2007 06:08 PM

Save The Delta Queen
The DQSCo courted organized labor back in the [I]Save the DELTA QUEEN[/I] days to give the company the clout of the unions in their fight with the congress to keep the old gal running. Ironically, now that the unions have been cast ashore, they're apparently using the very same arguments they originally opposed to get back at these new owners for ruffling their feathers.

What MAL needs is a new "Cap'n Betty" and a reprint of those cute orange buttons and bumper stickers:


Paul Penta 06-05-2007 08:33 PM

Good points, Franz. We need to keep positive here.

I did send emails to all of those contacts, keeping in mind that, in most cases, we are writing their staffs, and not the Reps/Senators themselves, so I added thoughts appropriate to any member who is from a river state.

I also closed with "Her safety record is impeccable and she deserves to continue her jouneys on America's rivers." I think such a statement is germane in light of the fact that the exemption is all about safety.

I also took some editorial liberty with the MAL suggested text and changed the word "ship" to "boat".

Save the DQ!


Jim Herron 06-06-2007 02:41 AM

For what its worth, this is the email I sent to all names on the list.
-Jim Herron

Dear Senator ________:

I am writing to ask your support in saving the historic and important steamboat Delta Queen by granting her an additional exemption from the Coast Guard's fire retardant regulations.

I am writing to you as a past and future passenger on the Delta Queen. I have no investment in the Delta Queen or the company that operates her and I am not an employee of that company.

This classic steamer is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a national treasure. It has been exempted from the Coast Guard fire retardant materials regulations by congress several times since 1970, always with completely safe operation under professional crew
management and continues to do so today. The current exemption expires in November, 2008 and a new exemption must be granted to keep her running.

The operation of the Delta Queen is different from ocean vessels. Her travels are on the Mississippi and Ohio River systems so the dangers of ocean travel are not a factor in her operation.

In her history, the Delta Queen has carried one United States President, First ladies, Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Conner and many other celebrities. But more importantly, she continues to attract thousands of passengers, a lot of them multiple repeaters. I am one of her passengers. On a cruise last year, I met a lady who was on her 105th Delta Queen cruise. While there are a couple of other, newer steamboats currently operating, there is only one Delta Queen. Built in 1926, she offers a historic experience that no others can match and draws passengers from every state and many other countries.

Her safety record is well known and she has the all the latest equipment to keep her passengers safe. The exemption is necessary because she has wooden components that are part of her appeal and charm. Over the years, she has received a steel hull and other improvements that make her far safer today. Her crew has a frequent and on-going safety training program.

Exempting the Delta Queen will not cost any tax dollars because she is privately owned and maintained.

Thank you for your consideration in granting the Delta Queen the exemption needed to keep her steaming.


David Dewey 06-06-2007 02:52 AM

Great Letter Jim, One "little" detail--she was built with a steel hull! She now has a second, reinforced, larger steel hull. But I'm probably being nit-picky.
Yep, there's only one Delta Queen and she deserves to carry on the tradition and to provide the experience for generations yet to come!
David Dewey
PS, wonder if we can get Pres. Jimmy Carter to contact a few of these folks??? Our last trip, we stayed in Amy's room.

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