American Cruise Lines Launches New Mississippi Riverboat

July 4th, 2014 Franz Posted in American Cruise Lines, River Cruise News Comments Off on American Cruise Lines Launches New Mississippi Riverboat

American Cruise Lines has successfully launched a new paddlewheeler being built for the Mississippi River at Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Maryland. The launching, which occurred on Sunday, went picture perfect. Immediately after being launched into the Wicomico River, tugboats skillfully nudged the new riverboat into Chesapeake Shipbuilding’s East Outfitting Basin where the upper decks and outfitting will be completed.

“This is a significant milestone in the construction process and also for American Cruise Lines,” said Timothy Beebe, Vice President of American Cruise Lines. “We look forward to introducing yet another new paddlewheeler on the Mississippi River and its tributaries.”

The launching comes just a few weeks after the joining of the two hull sections, weighing at almost 600 tons a piece. With the installation of the upper decks up next, the new riverboat will come together quickly, and upon completion will be the second new riverboat built for the Mississippi River by American Cruise Lines. Two additional riverboats are also on the way.

The new boat, still unnamed, will have a capacity of 150 passengers and is scheduled to begin navigating the Mississippi River and its tributaries in the spring of 2015.

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Bill Diebenow Joins American Queen Steamboat Company As Senior Vice President of Sales

June 14th, 2014 Franz Posted in American Queen Steamboat Company, River Cruise News Comments Off on Bill Diebenow Joins American Queen Steamboat Company As Senior Vice President of Sales

The American Queen Steamboat Company has announced that J. William Diebenow has joined the line’s management team as senior vice president of sales. In his role, Diebenow replaces recently retired Jeff Drew to oversee all aspects of agency sales, distribution channels and lead the company’s regional sales directors.

“The American Queen Steamboat Company is thrilled to have Bill Diebenow join our team for the wealth of experience he brings to our brand,” shares American Queen Steamboat Company President & COO Ted Sykes. “A fixture in the industry and favorite among our travel partners, we look forward to his contributions sharing our passion for U.S. river cruising as it continues to grow.”

Diebenow joins American Queen Steamboat Company’s executive team with over 20 years of senior sales and marketing experience, most recently leading business development as vice president with Preferred Hotel Group and Optriant. Prior, he led High Country Passage and the World Leaders Symposium, creating extraordinary educational events with celebrated personalities including Tom Brokaw, Madeleine Albright, and President George H.W. Bush. His background also includes directing sales and marketing for Intrav/Clipper Cruise Line.

“I am delighted to join the American Queen Steamboat Company team as the American Queen and American Empress deliver a truly unique river cruising experience,” shared Diebenow. “It is an exciting time in the U.S. river cruising industry and I’m humbled to play a role in its growth.”

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American Queen Steamboat Company Unveils 2015 Season in New Brochure

June 11th, 2014 Franz Posted in American Queen Steamboat Company, River Cruise News Comments Off on American Queen Steamboat Company Unveils 2015 Season in New Brochure

The American Queen Steamboat Company has announced its new brochure for the 2015 season. The 68-page brochure showcases shore excursions, onboard entertainment and themed voyages aboard the American Queen and the newly christened American Empress of the Pacific Northwest.

The cruise line states that thanks to its growing popularity, the company will feature expanded Premium Shore Excursions in 2015 along with Post-Voyage City Stays for those who want to experience more time in cities such as Memphis, Tenn.; New Orleans; Nashville, Tenn.; Portland, Ore.; and Spokane, Wash.

“As we enter the summer season, it has already been a banner year for our company with the launch of the American Empress and continued success of the American Queen,” shares American Queen Steamboat Company President & COO Ted Sykes. “From wine tasting in Oregon to country music tours in Nashville, Tenn., we look forward to providing another exciting year of cultured voyages in 2015.”

The brochure features new photography from the American Empress’ inaugural season, capturing her backdrops, dining venues, dynamic public spaces and opulent decor. The 223-guest riverboat’s itineraries for 2015 include compelling stops along the Columbia and Snake Rivers such as Multnomah Falls, Mt. St. Helens, the Walla Walla Wine trail and much more. A total of 32 nine-day voyages allow guests to experience the natural splendor of Pacific Northwest and historical landmarks that signify the living legacy of the regions first settlers.

A celebration of America’s cultural quilt will take place onboard the American Queen’s Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland River cruises, featuring six total itineraries in 2015. Historic ports of call include Cincinnati, Ohio; Paducah, Ky.; St. Louis, Mo.; and the line’s newest destination and Country Music Mecca: Nashville, Tenn. There, guests will enjoy tours of the stately Grand Ole Opry, Country Music Hall of Fame and an exclusive tour of President Andrew Jackson’s home.

Featuring 12 Upper Mississippi voyages, the American Queen will continue to call on favorite ports, including Mark Twain’s hometown of Hannibal, Mo., and Red Wing, Min., as shesails between St. Louis and St. Paul. A variety of themed cruises characterize the Lower Mississippi itineraries that encapsulate Southern Culture, Gardens of the River and Old-Fashioned Holidays.

Offering the most inclusive river cruise experience in North America, fares on the American Queen begin at $1,599 per person based on double occupancy and $3,795 on the American Empress. All journeys include a one-night pre-voyage hotel stay, shore tours in all ports, complimentary wine and beer with dinner and a host of other amenities.

To order a brochure, request additional information and make reservations, contact the American Queen Steamboat Company at 888-749-5280, visit online at or contact a professional travel agent. Guests who book early can save up to $600 per stateroom on all 2015 voyages.

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American Empress Cusine Puts Spotlight on Pacific Northwest

April 29th, 2014 Franz Posted in American Queen Steamboat Company, River Cruise News Comments Off on American Empress Cusine Puts Spotlight on Pacific Northwest

The American Queen Steamboat Company has  introduced a new culinary program onboard the American Empress, which began her inaugural season April 5, 2014. Staying true to her Pacific Northwest surroundings, the culinary team is taking full advantage of the region’s freshest seafood and produce including sustainable fish, free-range chicken and artisan cheeses along with seasonal fruits and vegetables.  In addition, guests have the opportunity to taste the top local beers, wines and liquors as the vessel passes through the majestic scenery of the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

“The farms and rivers of Washington and Oregon are home to a diverse bounty of ingredients unlike any other area of the country.” said American Queen Steamboat Company President and COO Ted Sykes. “We pride ourselves in sourcing local from the community the American Empress calls home and the menus continue to receive rave reviews from our guests.”

Menu highlights include:

  • Marinated Dungeness Crab Salad with Asparagus-Dill Mousse; Chilled marinated crab with a classic asparagus-dill mousse
  • Split Pea and Smoked Tomato Soup; topped with toasted rye croutons
  • Pepper Crusted Quail with Applewood Smoked Bacon; Semi-boneless quail, crisp applewood bacon, greens, corn pudding and red wine demi-glace
  • Washington Apple and Ripe Pear Salad; Mixed greens julienne apple and sliced pear with candied walnuts, celery and raspberry vinaigrette
  • “Cold Smoked” Salmon; Sliced applewood smoked salmon, capers, cream cheese, red onion, hard cooked egg and crostini
  • Wild Forrest Mushroom Crepe; Sautéed wild harvested local mushrooms wrapped in a delicate crepe, served with pinot noir reduction
  • Oregon Trail Beef Brisket Sandwich; Sliced beef brisket smothered in rich sauce and served on a soft roll with trail beans, day pickles and horseradish sauce

Regional beer includes:

  • Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA, Full Sail Amber, Deschutes Black Butte Porter, Deschutes Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale, Pyramid Hefeweizen, Pyramid Apricot Ale, Deschutes River Ale

Regional wine by the glass in addition to tastings with 40 different wineries include:

  • Firesteed Pinot Noir and Riesling, Waterbrook Merlot, Expedition Pinot Gris and Maryhill Pinot Gris

In addition to the elegant Astoria Dining Room, the River Grille has quickly become a favorite location for guests to dine and take in the majestic scenery. Offering a more casual setting with both indoor and al fresco dining, menu highlights include local smoked and grilled salmon, Dungeness crab and freshly cut steaks.

Featuring nine-day journeys immersing guests in the splendor of the Columbia and Snake Rivers, the American Empress sails between Vancouver U.S.A. and Clarkston, Wash. Featured stops include some of the region’s most celebrated ports including Astoria, Ore.; Stevenson, Wash.; The Dalles, Ore.; and Sacajawea State Park, Wash. Complimentary shore excursions will be available in every port and include the cultural and historical landmarks that signify the living legacy of the region’s first settlers.  Travelers with specific interests are encouraged to enjoy the variety of premium experience excursions such as the Walla Walla Wine Trail or a journey to the volcanic crater of Mount St. Helens. Daily lectures are also provided by the Riverlorian, an onboard history and culture expert.

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Queen of the West enters fifth year of service on Columbia River

April 29th, 2014 Franz Posted in American Cruise Lines, River Cruise News Comments Off on Queen of the West enters fifth year of service on Columbia River

American Cruise Lines has announced that Queen of the West’s 2014 season on the Columbia and Snake Rivers is off to a successful start. Currently on its third sailing of the year, the 120-passenger paddlewheeler has 31 more sailings scheduled through November. Prior to entering service again, Queen of the West received numerous upgrades, which include elegant new dining room furniture, a new bar in the Paddlewheel Lounge, all new furniture in the Lewis & Clark lounge, and a new state-of-the-art air conditioning system. Later on in the year, the six suites onboard will undergo a complete renovation.

“Our goal is to continue to make a great riverboat even greater and to maximize the comfort and amenities available to our passengers,” said Timothy Beebe, Vice President of American Cruise Lines.  “We are constantly raising our standards as the premier provider of American river cruises and we look forward to continuing to offer the most elegant and enjoyable cruises on the Columbia and Snake Rivers.”

Queen of the West features historic accents and modern conveniences. The 63 staterooms onboard feature updated furniture and appointments. The private balconies have received a makeover of their own this year, with all new deck furniture. Sailing between Portland, Oregon, and Clarkston, Washington, guests will learn about the Lewis and Clark expedition while enjoying the Pacific Northwest’s breathtaking views and wine country.

“Now offering more than double the number of cruises since its inaugural season in 2010, Queen of the West has proved to be a great success,” added Beebe. “Increasingly more people are finding this nostalgic form of river cruising appealing. We are proud to have revived this historic pastime.”

American Cruise Lines is currently building a new Columbia riverboat, which has a planned capacity of 175 passengers and will be similar in design to Queen of the West and the even newer Queen of the Mississippi.  The new riverboat will allow American Cruise Lines to offer expanded itineraries on the Columbia and Snake Rivers, adding new cruise options for those looking to experience this unique region.

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ACL Offers Complimentary Shore Tours on Paddlewheel River Cruises

January 17th, 2014 Franz Posted in American Cruise Lines, River Cruise News Comments Off on ACL Offers Complimentary Shore Tours on Paddlewheel River Cruises

American Cruise Linesoffers complimentary shore excursions on Mississippi and Columbia River cruises aboard Queen of the Mississippi and Queen of the West in each port. The cruise line says the excursions are valued at more than $300 per person. For a limited time, a complimentary pre-night hotel stay will also be offered on bookings made throughout Wave Season.

Complimentary tours on Mississippi River cruises include:

  • Battle of Vicksburg Tour – Vicksburg, MS – Guests will tour the Vicksburg National Military Park and discover the site of one of the Civil War’s most legendary battles –The Siege of Vicksburg.
  • Oak Alley Plantation Tour – Oak Alley, LA – Guests will sip delicious Mint Juleps as they enjoy an educational tour by guides in period clothing, and a walk through the quarter mile canopy of 300 year old live oak trees.
  • Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum – Hannibal, MO – Guests will enjoy a trolley tour of this historic town and discover the inspiration behind Mark Twain’s writing, while reliving their favorite scenes from Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

Complimentary tours on Columbia and Snake River cruises include:

  • Mount St. Helens Tour – Rainier, WA – A scenic bus ride takes guests to the Mount St. Helens Johnston Ridge Observatory. The observatory sits on a bluff overlooking the crater and offers views of Mount St. Helens’ lava dome, pumice plain and landslide deposit.
  • Columbia Gorge Discover Center – The Dalles, OR – Guests enjoy a sprawling interactive museum with exhibits and collections of local cultural history. The exhibits focus on the volcanic upheaval and raging floods that created the Gorge, the unique horticulture and wildlife of the region, and eleven thousand years of history.
  • Winery Tour – Richland, VA – Known as “The Heart of Washington Wine Country,” the Tri-Cities region houses more than 160 wineries within a 50 mile radius. Sample award-winning wines and enjoy breathtaking views of beautiful vineyards on this narrated winery tour.
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Alan Bates’ autobiographical book „Naval Architect“ republished

November 23rd, 2013 Franz Posted in River Cruise News Comments Off on Alan Bates’ autobiographical book „Naval Architect“ republished

Naval Architect, Alan BatesNaval Architect” is the true story of Alan L. Bates’ career as a naval architect, the ups and downs, about learning things the hard way, about great success and the funniest moments in life.

First published by Alan Bates in 1992, “Naval Architect” has been out of print for many years. Now it’s available again as paperback book as well as in e-book format for Kindle e-book readers.

Alan L. Bates directed the renovation of the steamer “Avalon” into the “Belle of Louisville”, designed the steamboat “Natchez” and was involved in the planning, building or renovation of many other riverboats.

The book a personal account of the author’s most prestigious projects including the Belle of Louisville renovation, Natchez, Chautauqua Belle and the Louisville Falls Fountain as well as his very own experiences with the US Coast Guard, which he had a life-long and deep love-hate relationship with.

Alan L. Bates tells his stories in the same witty and refreshing style he did when telling stories in person at so many occasions, whether sitting on the lazy bench of the pilot house of the Belle of Louisville or on the sofa of his home in Louisville, Kentucky – in his very own style of storytelling that everyone who knew him did love so much.

In November 2011, just weeks before he passed away on January 1, 2012, Alan Bates wrote in an e-mail: “It is my hope that my historical drawings and books will remain available to historians and river fans for at least a few more years.”

Naval Architect is the first in a series of books written by Alan Bates to be republished to keep his heritage alive.

“Naval Architect” is available from as well as retail book stores (ISBN: 978-1484939932):

paperback edition $12.50 (current price: $10.83)

e-book $4.99

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Louisville to host Centennial Festival of Riverboats, October 2014

October 10th, 2013 Franz Posted in River Cruise News Comments Off on Louisville to host Centennial Festival of Riverboats, October 2014

Next year Louisville will be the host of the Centennial Festival of Riverboats, a historic gathering and celebration of American riverboat heritage occurring downtown October 14-19, 2014. The event, being held to honor the 100th birthday of the Belle of Louisville, will be marked by the gathering of nine different riverboats from across the country, all cruising the same span of the Ohio River over the course of the six day festival held at Louisville’s internationally-acclaimed Waterfront Park.

“The Belle of Louisville is one of our city’s, and our country’s, greatest historical assets,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. “We’re thrilled to be celebrating her in style next year at the Centennial Festival of Riverboats, an event already generating buzz and excitement all across the country.”

Festival goers will have the opportunity to not only show their local pride by taking cruises on the Belle of Louisville, but also to participate in music, dinner, tasting and special event cruises on eight other boats as well, all gathered from river ports around the country for this special occasion. Additionally, all are welcome to enjoy the celebration happening on the banks of the Ohio River at Louisville’s award-winning Waterfront Park. Hosts in Louisville will be bringing the best of what the Bluegrass has to offer to the Festival, including concerts, bourbon tastings, artistic pavilions, fireworks shows and storytelling, all amongst the visual spectacle of nearly a dozen riverboats meeting on the Ohio River.

The other boats that will be joining the Centennial Festival of Riverboats are:

  • The Spirit of Jefferson (Louisville, KY) The Belle of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, OH)
  • The Spirit of Peoria (Peoria, IL) The River Queen (Newport, KY)
  • The General Jackson (Nashville, TN) The Anson Northrup (St. Paul, MN)
  • The Colonel (Galveston, TX) The American Queen (Memphis, TN)

“I am often asked why I have volunteered to organize the Centennial Festival and answer is simple: everyone loves the Belle of Louisville. No matter where you live – east, south, west or southern Indiana – the Belle brings us together as a community,” said Neville Blakemore, Chair of the Centennial Festival of Riverboats. “I am looking forward to this once in a lifetime event to celebrate the Belle of Louisville’s 100th Birthday.”

To date, the Festival planning team has pre-sold over 5,000 tickets to the event, and raised over $755,000 in funds and in-kind donations from community partners.

The Belle of Louisville is the oldest operating Mississippi River-style steamboat in the world. Though we know her today as the Belle of Louisville, she was originally named the Idlewild when she was built in 1914 in Pittsburgh. She was originally designed to be a ferry and day packet vessel, for freight work, and was also outfitted for her later career as an excursion boat. Completely paddlewheel-driven with a steel hull that draws only 5’ of water, she was able to travel on virtually every navigable inland waterway, earning her the distinction of being the most widely traveled river steamboat in the nation. The Belle was named a National Historic Landmark in 1989.

“Riverboat heritage is one of the most celebrated traditions in American history, and we’re lucky to have one of its most enduring symbols—the Belle of Louisville—here at home in Kentucky,” said Governor Steve Beshear. “On the occasion of the Belle’s 100th birthday, I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate than with the Centennial Festival of Riverboats.”

Tickets for the event are available for purchase

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American Queen Steamboat Co. explains details about the Empress of the North purchase

August 24th, 2013 Franz Posted in American Queen Steamboat Company, River Cruise News Comments Off on American Queen Steamboat Co. explains details about the Empress of the North purchase

After some confusion and rumors following the announcement of American Queen Steamboat Company about the purchase of the former Empress of the North (now American Empress) in May 2013, American Queen Steamboat Company now explains the details of the deal.

The cruise line said that AQSC is not formally owning the paddlewheel cruise ship yet but has a binding purchase contract with the U.S. Marine Administration (MARAD). According to Travel Weekly, the MARAD said as of now the vessel is under charter to the American Queen Steamboat Company.

In a press release Ted Sykes, president and COO of American Queen Steamboat Company said that he expects the sale of the Empress of the North, now renamed American Empress, will be final before the ship starts into its season on the Columbia and Snakes Rivers in April 2014.

While Sykes called it a “financing technicality” of when the closing of the purchase occurs, Travel Weekly cites Christopher Kyte, former president of American Queen Steamboat Company saying the announcement in May was misleading and made the acquisition of the ship appear final.

American queen Steamboat Company is investing millions of dollars in renovating the ship at Portland, Oregon, where it is currently docked.

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American Cruise Lines Announces 14-night Grand Heartland River Cruises

July 30th, 2013 Franz Posted in American Cruise Lines, River Cruise News Comments Off on American Cruise Lines Announces 14-night Grand Heartland River Cruises

American Cruise Lines ( announced today the introduction of its Grand Heartland Cruise. The 14-night cruise on the Mississippi will be offered at a 10-night price with a host of other complimentary extras. This ultimate American river adventure begins on the scenic upper Mississippi and ends in Memphis, TN, stopping in 13 of the American Heartland’s most unique towns and cities along the way.

The new 14-night cruise package includes: 4 nights free – a savings of up to $4,000 per person; complimentary shore excursions; complimentary pre-cruise hotel stay for one night; complimentary cocktail hour each evening

During the 15-day journey, guests enjoy views of a diverse landscape and spectacular fall colors as they make their way down the Mississippi River. Onboard, they’ll enjoy Queen of the Mississippi’s numerous and distinct amenities, including spacious staterooms and private balconies with sliding glass doors. They’ll also experience American Cruise Lines’ unique open-seating dining plan, which allows guests to enjoy meals in a single seating and at the time of their choice, while surrounded by panoramic views of the river.

For the duration of the cruise, an all-American crew caters to passengers’ every need, while daily educational events and themed entertainment help paint a picture of what life on the Mississippi was like in days gone by.

“It’s been evident that our guests enjoy viewing more than one portion of the Mississippi River at a time, and often back-to-back,” said Timothy Beebe, Vice President, American Cruise Lines. “With this new offering, we provide a unique opportunity to do just that on the most beautiful portions of the River, while enjoying major savings and added value.”

The 14-night sailing departs on October 26, 2013 aboard the Queen of the Mississippi.

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