Good news out of New Orleans and Cincinnati this morning: the news we were waiting for. I posted the press release at my site, but here it is, restated in full:

For immediate release
Date: November 17, 2010
Contact: Vicki Webster (513) 381-3571
Facebook Page: Save the Delta Queen 2010 | Facebook

Group Set to Put the Delta Queen Back in Operation

CINCINNATI – Save the Delta Queen 2010 today announced plans to buy the Steamboat Delta Queen from her current owners, Ambassadors International, Inc., and put her back into full operation carrying passengers on the Ohio and Mississippi River system. Currently the 84-year-old vessel is serving as a floating hotel in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The Delta Queen was the last traditional steamboat carrying overnight passengers on America’s inland waterways. For that reason she was been designated a National Historic Landmark. In 1966, she was inadvertently caught in the technical provisions of the Safety of Life at Sea Act, which said that a vessel operating in US waters could carry no more than 49 passengers. Recognizing the law was intended to cover oceangoing ships, not boats that operate on rivers, within yards of the shore, Congress established an exemption for the Delta Queen in 1968. The exemption was renewed nine times, in virtually every case by near-unanimous votes in both the House and the Senate. The last exemption expired on October 31, 2008.

The boat’s owners chose to lease her as a floating hotel, rather than operate her with 49 overnight passengers or continue efforts to reinstate the exemption. Now the company is soliciting bids from potential buyers, and Save the Delta Queen 2010 has responded.

Spearheading Save the Delta Queen 2010 is Robert Rintz, former Louisiana State Tourism Director and former Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the Delta Queen Steamboat Company. Captain Clark “Doc” Hawley, former Captain and pilot of the Delta Queen serves as Captain Emeritus.

Rintz said, “The Delta Queen is the last remaining example of the hundreds of steamboats that once traversed our heartland, weaving our nation together in the process. We intend to make her live again so that future generations have the chance to travel on this quintessentially American treasure, and so that river towns in 17 states can benefit from the revenue she brings to their communities.”