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It's Official - The DQ days are coming to end

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    It's Official - The DQ days are coming to end

    Here's the email I just recieved -


    Congress has decided not to enact legislation to grant the historic ship a statutory exemption; Ship will continue sailings through November 2008

    Seattle, August 1, 2007 – Majestic America Line, one of the world’s premier river cruise lines and the largest river and coastal cruising company in America, announced today that despite tremendous efforts by the company, many esteemed partners and thousands of previous guests, the U.S. Congress has decided that the Delta Queen should not continue operating on America’s rivers beyond 2008. Majestic America Line is committed to providing this American treasure with a proper and well-deserved send off, and will spend the Delta Queen’s 2008 farewell season celebrating this historic landmark with the communities and people who hold her storied tradition of sailing the waterways of the United States so dear.

    Built in 1926, the Delta Queen features a steel hull and a superstructure constructed of wood – a direct reflection of the designs of her time. Subsequent Coast Guard regulations prohibited wooden superstructures, but Congress decided more than 40 years ago to provide a special exemption from these rules for the historic Delta Queen. This exemption, which Congress had extended no fewer than six occasions, was set to expire in November 2008. Majestic America Line recently joined forces with those who know and love the fabled ship to extend this exemption. A comprehensive campaign was launched to raise awareness for the Delta Queen’s excellent safety record, its impeccable training program and the quality and experience of the crew. However, Congress recently chose not to include this extension on legislation. Without the extension from Congress, the Delta Queen will not be able to continue cruise voyages on the river.

    “We are incredibly disappointed by this decision, but we are extremely grateful to those who worked tirelessly on behalf of the Delta Queen to preserve her place on the Mississippi River,” said Joe Ueberroth, President and CEO, Ambassadors International, which owns and operates Majestic America Line. “This includes many congressional leaders such as Congressman Lacy Clay (D-MO), who gathered the support of so many of his colleagues, thousands of loyal guests, our hard-working travel partners and Delta Queen enthusiasts like We appreciate their efforts and we will continue to keep them involved as we plan the best way to honor the Delta Queen.”

    In addition to the leadership displayed by Congressman Clay, members such as Congressman Richard Baker (R-LA), representing congressional districts that are visited each year by the Delta Queen, were very supportive of the efforts to keep her operating on the river. These members include:

    o Congressman Todd Akin (R-MO)
    o Congressman Marion Berry (D-AR)
    o Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
    o Senator Christopher “Kit” Bond (R-MO)
    o Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH)
    o Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO)
    o Congressman Kenny Hulshof (R-MO)
    o Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI)
    o Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
    o Congresswoman Bettie McCollum (D-MN)
    o Congressman Charlie Melancon (D-LA)
    o Congresswoman Jean Schmidt (R-OH)
    o Congressman John Tanner (D-TN)
    o Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-MS)
    o Senator David Vitter (R-LA)
    o Congressman Timothy Walz (D-MN)
    o Congressman Zack Wamp (R-TN)
    o Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-KY)

    Support and encouragement also came from districts which are not directly touched by the Delta Queen, including Congressman Roy Blunt (R-MO), Congressman Gene Taylor (D-MS) and Congressman Don Young (R-AK).

    Based in Seattle, Majestic America Line is also grateful for the support from Washington state members, including Congressman Brian Baird (D-WA) and Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA).

    For years, the Delta Queen has been a beloved fixture on the heartland rivers of the United States and provided guests with a view of America from the waters that shaped the country’s expansion. The Delta Queen provides a wholly unique way to experience the great American communities, cultures and experiences along the Upper and Lower Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Arkansas, Black Warrior and Cumberland rivers, as well as the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.

    In 1970, recognized as the last operational steam paddlewheeler with overnight accommodations plying the rivers, the Delta Queen was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In 1989, she was designated as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of Interior. She was inducted into the National Maritime Hall of Fame in 2004.

    A veteran of World War II and the only steamboat to transit the Panama Canal, the 80 year-old Delta Queen was host to three U.S. presidents and a princess. Stars of stage, screen and the entertainment world have also graced her decks, as well as some of the most prominent business leaders and statesmen of our time.

    The ship itself is rich with art and antiquities such as original Tiffany-style stained glass windows, rich hardwood paneling, gleaming brass fittings, the only Siamese ironwood floor aboard a steamboat, the dramatic and often-photographed Grand Staircase, an 1897 steam calliope, and the very same ship’s bell that sounded out landings for the steamboat that Mark Twain rode downriver in 1883.

    Majestic America Line will dedicate the 2008 season to celebrating the Delta Queen’s 80 years of service and her fabled time on the river.

    “A journey on board the Delta Queen is a true American experience, providing guests with an authentic glimpse of our country’s culture and a time in our history when steamboats ruled the rivers,” said David A. Giersdorf, President, Majestic America Line. “We will make every sailing in 2008 a special event, allowing every guest, like so many before, the opportunity to share in the Delta Queen’s legacy and honor the last chapter in her service on the river.”

    Majestic America Line is planning special commemorative events, exclusive departures for previous Delta Queen guests and commemorative gifts that will mark the farewell season. With just 24 departures on the Delta Queen during 2008, guests are encouraged to reserve their place in history soon.

    The company is continuing to evaluate the best way to preserve her legendary spirit and her esteemed place in American history for future generations.

    To find out more about traveling on the Delta Queen, please contact your Travel Professional, call a reservation specialist at (800) 434-1232 or visit

    I am so ignorant of the ways congress works, that I don't really know how next to proceed. If there was that much support, what was the objection "by congress"? Does anyone know when this decision was made, when the vote was taken? Is this something to be taken lying down, or is there further recourse? Is there any chance of the boat retaining a limited certificate such as the Str. PORTLAND has, to allow her to operate for special occasions? This is devastating. Sam, what would Betty do here? Is there anything WE can do? Is MAL really committed to securing an exemption? What then will happen to the boat if this really is the end?


      Yeah, Deb and I heard this about an hour ago from a very trusted source via cell phone.

      She was an extremely sweet ride, and we feel very fortunate to be one of the chosen. I haven't seen clear enough to even think about how Deb and I will deal with this...somehow an "E" on the AQ sems to be the only close alternative, but frankly it's not even close...Thank God we have few more ahead of us this year to enjoy...and to allow us to prepare. Is this what addiction is all about?

      Tears, many tears in upstate New York this evening...


        This, I suppose, would really be a history question, but tied in with this thread,too. When the Greene's made the business decision to quit running the GORDON C. GREENE, was there any outpouring of support for the "old" boat? From what I have read, the DQ was fairly well received, but I know there had to have been some who were not enamored of it, with her California styling and "little steamship" look. Of course, the Greene's did not have SOLAS to blame. In those times were people as sentimental as now? When the Greene's sold the GORDON, was there any non-compete clause in the sale contract? Did the Greene's lose any business because of loyalty to the old boat?

        Yes, Pete, all things must come to an end, but what end will this be? I suppose we can count ourselves as fortunate to have been passengers and/or crew members on this wonderful old boat. I guess everyone thinks "their" time was the pinnacle, and I certainly feel that way about the late 1970's on the DQ with Capts. Wagner, Chengery, Davisson, Shelton, Ware, Zimmer, Karnath, etc., etc. and Jerry Critchfield, Al Boulton, Jim Bryeans, Earle Haskell, Bill Kelley and Pete Feilhauer, etc. in the engine room. To many now on this board, of course, these manes mean nothing, and they still have their great memories of the old boat. I just wish there was some way the boat could be preserved for the landmark she truly is, and be kept in operating conditon in some manner, whether as an operating museum, attraction vessel, or something. Business decisions are difficult for all concerned, but of course we are talking about he DQ here.


          I just could not read all of Mr. Hamilton's posting... and had to call the Doctor immediately as soon as the shocking news was learned. Wished him a Happy Seventy-Second, and he verified Mr. H's posting.

          It is like hearing that a beloved friend or relative had died; even worse, perhaps, but I'm not counting the ole gal out yet. Luckily, she has a new bottom, and if her brother has survived all he has gone through and made it in good order, then my belief is that the venerable DELTA QUEEN will begin the next phase of her long life, and she will last another couple generations or more. Hopefully, someone with plenty of love and big bucks will get her and do her right.

          Cap'n Betty would have an Ace up her sleeve.. maybe two or more.
          Last edited by Shipyard Sam; 08-02-2007, 12:12 AM.


            Congress has not ended session yet, and there is still most of next year, why is MAL throwing in the towel already?? The never gave us a bill number to support, nor have they really mounted a national media campaign either.
            Maybe we should all band together, put our investment money together, and buy and RUN the boat??
            BACK to my question some threads back, can we, as just citizens, with no ownership or financial investment in the boat, go forward and ask for the exemption??
            David D.
            Who can hardly read his screen right now.


              Thanks to my bud David and another great river rat that e-mailed me...Why is this a done deal? Don't we have another year and so many months until this is a done deal?

              Why don't YOU MAL appreciate that this is the very BEST that YOU own? The very BEST that YOU have to offer. AQ your flagship, get a friggin' grip! Your other 5 (or is it 7 now?) boats can only hope to someday be, with a hell of a lot of luck and tons of money, half of what the DQ is at this very moment!

              This is making me physically sick. I may have to express my opinion of this additional example of MAL's well researched and timely expert decisions to my bathroom.

              And I'd like to thank the union for fighting the exemption...more than 160 people out of a job...maybe forever...did that work for ya? Not being a union guy may make me unqualified to express an opinion...but is MAL going the way of Jones and Laughlin Steel (sez the born and raised Pittsburgh boy...)? And any union guys out there that are ready to blast me, I'm sorry, but I'm ****ed...

              MAL, are you reading this? Deb and I, just between the two of us, came up with 68 customers of yours that account for about 200 cruises a year, people that you will probably never get dime one from again...can you do the math?

              MAL, step up to the plate, lets get this done...or...

              So much for me looking forward to cruising the DQ in retirement...

              Ok, I just reread the initial posting of this thread...It's now my opinion that MAL NEVER had intentions of fighting for the exemption. Obviously, she's their boat...but I gotta wonder why they think that this is a good thing for them...I've always heard that she was the one that they (whatever owner "they" equated to over the years) could count on to bring home the bacon, true?

              Or is the DQ the union's sacrificial lamb...

              Last edited by Bruno Krause; 08-01-2007, 11:07 PM. Reason: a little bit more...


                One has to wonder why, if the congressional vote was near, didn't MAL put the call out to all of it's passengers, especially it's DQ passengers, to get busy and start calling those congressmen and senators who were involved?

                Why, if the vote was imminent, didn't MAL get an urgent notice to the members that this was coming to a vote?

                What were the House and Senate bill numbers that involved the DQ?
                When were the arguements presented?
                When were the votes cast?

                What Union wanted the DQ to lose?

                Why are we being told after the fact instead of having been given an advance warning that the votes were coming?

                Strange, how in the email sent by MAL to announce the "official retirement season", they did choose to thank for the support of it's members in the effort to exempt the DQ again. But it's also pretty odd that this was the first time I've ever seen something come from MAL that publicly recognizes this group.

                What an emptiness this will leave in mid-America.


                  WHY? Because!

                  MY OPINION, FRANZ, AND NO REASON FOR MAL TO CAST ASPERSIONS ON YOU OR ON THE MESSAGE BOARD(dot. argghg as Seattle refers to us)
                  WHY, David, Bruno and Jim? Because MAL never wanted the exemption, in my opinion [edited]. This was all a ruse to make them look good - We tried, but CONGRESS wouldn't help us. My opinion is that [edited] from the beginning they had no intention of continuing to run the DQ - why else would they have pulled the flagship designation from her and slap it on the AQ? As to the union, Bruno, guess what - there's another evil entity fighting against MAL and the DQ, convenient isn't it? Get rid of those higher paid personnel to save money and coincidentally get them riled up enough to fight the exemption! Bingo! Congress and the Union, the killers of the DELTA QUEEN. Sorry, I don't buy that. As owners of the boats, MAL has the right to do whatever they want with them, and they have. All I'd like to see now is someone from MAL having the balls to say: "We don't want to run the DQ anymore and therefore we are laying her up." Truth is unfortunately a commodity very lacking in our American corporate culture today.
                  Last edited by Franz Neumeier; 08-02-2007, 12:54 AM.


                    I too, am physically ill over this, and I am wondering if I can (if the opportunity arrises) survive another trip on her. I would be so hard to enjoy something that, to me, would be a trip-long wake. It is always hard enough for me to get off the boat, but to know I'm getting off for the final time. . . .I'm loosing it, can't see to type


                      I agree with you Judy and am heartbroken by this. So tell and and please excuse my ignorance but what about the Belle of Louisville? She has a wooden superstructure too. Will she se the same fate?


                        Once again MAL's ineptitude is shining through. So the end of a beloved American National Historic Landmark is a celebration. Let's turn this whole thing into a money making proposition. We can't effectively market and sell cruises at inflated fares, so let's let her die and create demand that way. That's what MAL is in effect doing. MAL is also claiming that this is all the fault of The Seafarers International Union and Congress. Please, MAL doesn't even have the guts to stand up for its own actions.

                        Betty Blake fought for the DELTA QUEEN's 1970 exemption till the bitter end. MAL wrings its blood soaked hands, as it's crying crocodile tears and saying, we've done all we can fellows, now let's end the fight to preserve this American icon seventeen months before we should, and celebrate what we have done!

                        I'm not fooled, nor will MAL get one thin dime from me.(And I do have the resources if I would so choose) I also don't believe that the MISSISSIPPI QUEEN is exempt from such callousness either. My opinion is that MAL has her marked too.

                        Now is truly the time to write and call each or our U.S.Senators and Representatives. Question your Congressional representatives as to why it is being claimed that they are the party responsible for the end of the legendary DELTA QUEEN. If Congress would pass the exemption atleast MAL would be forced to face up to its own actions. Also buy shares of stock in Ambassadors International and let its management know how you feel as a part owner of the company.

                        I'm sure there is other recourse too. Join me in not celebrating the end of the DELTA QUEEN and find other travel opportunities to explore! Plan a vacation to ride the CHAUTAUQUA BELLE, NATCHEZ, JULIA BELLE SWAIN, BELLE OF LOUISVILLE, S.S.BADGER, R.M.S. SEGWUN, VIRGINIA V. or even a blue water cruise. There is still space at discounted rates on the QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 this and next year. The opportunities are out there; just go!



                          "Because MAL never wanted the exemption, in my opinion"

                          My optinion:[edited] Judy is obviously correct about this. MAL in my view [edited] does not want to operate the Delta Queen and did not really try for the exemption.

                          One hope may be to start a nonprofit corporation to purchase and operate her.
                          Last edited by Franz Neumeier; 08-02-2007, 05:25 AM.



                            Well said, Judy. You got it!!


                              No, because the BELLE does not carry overnight passengers, which is part of the SOLAS legislation.
                              Last edited by Franz Neumeier; 08-02-2007, 07:53 AM.