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A Note From Christopher Kyte - President of GASC

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Old 09-27-2011, 04:26 PM
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 7
Default A Note From Christopher Kyte - President of GASC

Dear All,

Christopher is currently at sea and asked me to share a note and thoughts with our esteemed members of the Steamboat community.

Cheers from Memphis,

Dear Steamboaters,

I have followed with interest the comments on this board about our pricing for the American Queen in 2012 and thought it might be helpful to point out a few facts.

In REAL dollars, our fares are a little under what Delaware North was charging seven years ago, depending on the category and time of the year. In REAL dollars, our fares are substantially less than what Majestic America were charging on virtually every sailing. This is more notable given that fuel prices have almost doubled in this period of time and as anyone who goes to a grocery store knows, prices on virtually everything else, especially food, have risen greatly.

More importantly, we have eliminated all of the ‘nickel & diming’ blue water ships now excel in, with things like soft drinks and bottled water at no charge. There have been comments about the complimentary wine & beer at dinner, for those that do not drink but this is such a small cost, we did not increase the fares a dime for this. This amenity does however, make for a far more affordable holiday for those that do like a glass of wine at dinner.

Critically important is that we have increased the staffing levels on the boat back to where they should be, from the rather dismal way in which the boat was last operated at the end of its life under the previous operator. Things like entertainment, with many beloved ex Delta Queen personnel now back, are restored to the levels they were when the boat entered service. To do this, with fares still under what Delaware North charged seven years ago, with fuel prices that have soared is, I believe, a major achievement.

Lastly, but not least, we have included a hotel stay the night before (or after, if travel plans make having the hotel stay at the disembarkation city more logical) the voyage and this is an attempt to obviate the daily delays everyone now encounters with air and train travel. For the group we appeal to, fear of missing a sailing is real and a major concern. Far better to give people a relaxed holiday from the start and eliminate the worry about tight same-day connections. To address the one poster who said they were angry at being forced to utilize a hotel, this is simply not true. There is a healthy credit for those folks who absolutely do not want nor need a hotel stay. Something I know that no other prior management team has ever offered in conjunction with the American Queen is what we are offering with our ‘Easy Connect’ travel options to and/or from the boat. With attractive one way rates with both Hertz and Amtrak, guests need not fly at all if they wish to avoid this. On most sailings, we offer connecting travel in the reverse direction, that is, Pittsburgh to Cincinnati after the voyage, or Memphis to St Louis, for an average fare of $49pp! I would gently suggest that this ability to travel ‘home’ or to your starting point for under $50.00 is as major improvement to make this a holiday that is more affordable than ever before.

Best, looking forward to welcoming all of our valued Steamboaters aboard the only authentic overnight steamboat operating in North America

Christopher Kyte
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