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A different (optimistic) view

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    *RE: Voyages to America/Theme cruises.*
    Steamboating colleagues:
    Judy's posting/memories of the slogan 'Voyages to America' etc. got me to thinking. That famous banner was on the boat, as Judy mentions, for a long time in addition to being a (R) logo on brochures, ads, travel/cruise trade shows.

    Here's a 'brain teaser.' How many out there can recall ALL of the various promo slogans the company used over the years for the DQ? I don't think I can recall unless I pull junk out of 'dusty boxes' and look.

    Judy, on the 'Theme Cruises' can you ever remember if the actor Hal Holbrook ever was on the boats to do his 'Mark Twain Tonight?' Not certain but if Holbrook is around he must be moving up in years now. Theme cruises are quite popular also with the big 'blue water' ships from sports stars to ship history, music, literature, drama, movie stars of the 'Golden era' etc. Helen Hayes rode the boat frequently and really drew the passengers aboard.

    Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River.


      Holbrook is alive and in his 80s. I'm not aware of any DQ trips he made, unless he was a judge for a race trip sometime....crew members????


        Jane Greene tells the story that an actor called her mother offering to portray Mark Twain on the Delta Queen. Her mother turned him down. His name? Hal Holbrook!!
        By the way, Jane is having cataract surgery so we wish her the best.


          I believe Hal Holbrook is still doing some touring as HST: Harry S. Truman.

          There was an actor some years ago who was on a Charter who did an absolutely striking Twain gig. Unfortunately I don't remember his name though I am reasonably certain it was Not Holbrook.

          In the late 70's there was a concerted effort to attract British, French and German tourists to ride the boats. The vastness of America was an eye opener to many who came.



            Possible the Mark Twain actor was Lewis Hankins, he started in 1989 and was still playing special Steamboatin engagements toward the end. He did a great job, I like him better than Holbrook, but maybe I'm prejudiced in Lewis' favor...


              Lewis is around, still doing gigs last season. I like him very much, as Twain and as a friend, both! Hal Holbrook was kind enough to write a letter for the Save the Delta Queen campaign, to be used as we saw fit. Thanks to both of these talented gentlemen for bringing this part of our heritage to life for so many!


                You're a war baby as is my husband who was born in 1942. And I was born in 47 and I never cared for the do wop, bebop, rock and roll or whatever you want to call it. My father played a lot of big band music, so I have more of a connection to that, from a very early age, than to the Johnny Come Lately Elvis.


                  Having seen Holbrook and several other Twain impersonators, there is at least one I liked better, who did his program at a college in Lufkin, Texas.


                    Actually, there are quite a few trains, several I can name in Texas and Colorado alone, and some of them are fairly new. Certainly a lot more steam trains than steamboats at present, sorry to say.


                      Originally posted by Keith Tinnin View Post
                      Possible the Mark Twain actor was Lewis Hankins, he started in 1989 and was still playing special Steamboatin engagements toward the end. He did a great job, I like him better than Holbrook, but maybe I'm prejudiced in Lewis' favor...
                      And I think it appropriate to also mention Lewis' lovely lady, Lynn Roberts. A fantastic singer and performer - just ask Doc Severinson, with whom she has worked in concert several times. A real pro and a dear, dear lady.



                        You're so right, Paul. Watching them as their relationship grew on the vessel, and how happy it made Lewis ( and her) , was a real pleasure. And what a beautiful lady she is, a real class act...and what a vocalist! What a life Lewis ahs had since retieing after 26 years as a Kentucky State Trooper...


                          Bill's wrap up & challenge

                          I opened this thread---"A different (optimistic) view"---back in January with the encouragement of Franz and (mostly) Carmen. My initial three posts (dated 1/31 - 2/1) took issue with the various explanations for the Delta Queen's failure to gain an 11th congressional exemption. Instead of blaming some combination of fire safety, the Coast Guard, inept ownership, a self-serving congressional chairman and a pair of scorned unions, I put forth the argument that the real reason was bare knuckle partisan politics.

                          Having opened with my (alternative) explanation for the impasse, over five weeks lapsed before I posted my reasons for optimism.

                          The delay, in large part, was to see if my alternative explanation would survive the combined scrutiny of this forum. While the collective knowledge of is without equal, this group has also earned a bit of a reputation for being outspoken and/or downright hostile. (Has anyone checked to see if Franz and Carmen have "earned" the scars of veteran cat-herders?)

                          My eventual 4 follow-up posts (3/11 - 3/14) shared the reasons for my optimism. In spite of the doom-and-gloom being experienced by others, by my reckoning the current flood stage is receding---and the Delta Queen is now likely to obtain a decisive new owner, an 11th exemption, and a renewed Coast Guard "pass."

                          Although my second series of posts elicited a long string of comments, the reasons for my optimism remain unchallenged. Now that the 2008 elections are over (and our national leaders are busy with newer and bigger challenges) the Delta Queen is no longer a useful political pawn. On the contrary, due to our nation's economic meltdown AND the third successive failure of the 3-Queens fleet, I'm optimistic that the Delta Queen will no longer be the hostage of politics OR corporate boardmembers who might sacrifice her in wrong-headed efforts to woo blue-water cruisers.

                          In her next life the totally authentic Delta Queen won't need to play second fiddle to a pair of larger replicas that demanded the affection of 4-times more passengers. It was this insatiable hunger for "too many" passengers that caused the various owners of the Delta Queen to waste focus and money in repeated futile efforts to lure passengers away from exciting cruise ships bound for exotic destinations.

                          What's next? If we want to again experience the thrill of seeing the Delta Queen come 'round the bend, those of us that follow need to figure out ways that will help a new owner to take root and succeed.

                          Anyone care to argue?

                          Bill McCready


                            Originally posted by Bill McCready View Post
                            Anyone care to argue?

                            Bill McCready

                            Hi Bill,

                            No argument here. It is a reasoned, thoughtful position.

                            Once you get past the political aspect, it's basic. If you want to increase demand, you reduce supply.

                            I've seen this happen in the nightclub/restaurant business too many times. A club owner starts off with a nice, small room. Easy to operate, easy to maintain a decent profit margin. He strikes gold. Everybody loves the place.

                            He decides that bigger is better so he rents the store next door, knocks down the wall, doubles his capacity but his business stays at the same level. Only now he's got twice the headaches. So he dilutes the product to save money, and in the process loses at lot of what made the original so popular in the first place. The entertainment (of course) is the first segment to suffer. Then food service. Cut the staff, pay them less, resulting in unhappy employees. Cut the portions of food/drinks. And it just spirals down.

                            A smaller room fills up faster. It's easier to maintain the energy with a full room. It brings to mind the old Yogi Berra quote. "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded."

                            Fewer boats means fewer jobs. I would natually prefer more boats. But that's me being selfish. One boat, one particular boat, is the only vessel that maintains the steamboatin' experience in its purest form. And that's what the Delta Queen Steamboat Company should strive to do. While I love the AQ and learned to love the MQ, the dirty little secret is that the DQ, on her own, can succeed again and chug along the rivers, all by herself.

                            I remember my time on the Legendary One with fondness. Part of it stemmed from the feeling that NOLA was mostly concerned with the other two sisters and we just cruised along with minimal attention and interference from the suits. There were times when I felt that they didn't even know where we were without looking it up on the schedule. And that was just fine, thank you.

                            In a perfect world, having both the AQ and DQ running would be nice. The MQ, alas, is finished for sure. The beauty of the AQ, coupled with the warm fuzzy you get from the DQ would be great. The thought of the AQ sitting idle breaks my heart. But it's not a perfect world, I guess.

                            And the beat goes on.




                              In your last sentance you say "figure out ways to help an new owner take root and succeed"...since Ambassadors proved their idea wasn't working (and when Delaware North began to try to reinvent the wheel in 2004), I have said this numerous times.

                              Being an employee of the last 3 owners I can emphatically agree with your points of the last 3 owners. It was frusterating to watch the last 10 years happen...because the crew of the boats saw the writing on the wall for all 3 of them.

                              My sincere hope is we find an owner for the DELTA QUEEN who will make this happen. Without sisters and a need to dominate a market, her charm will be her survival tool. In the 60's and early 70's she was marketed in a way which put her name in the vernacular of most people in the country. If it weren't for the challange of SOLAS in 1966...she would have survived on this alone. With SOLAS, the previous genius of her marketing was what saved her to today.

                              With the group of her fans here at, her status as Americas Steamboat, and a good marketing and management firm the DELTA QUEEN can survive and flourish! Plain and simple!

                              There will have to be some changes and some here on the board may not agree. What made her a money maker in the past was the simplicity of her operation. There was a very small Entertainment staff, no Tour Manager, two bartenders, good food (but not the huge wait staff and menu there have been the last 3 operators), and alot of commaderie amongst the passengers. What I have always found interesting about the American Canadian Caribbean Line is what the late Luther Blount founded his line on, the Greene Line operations book (make it simple and make it good). Which line survived? The Greene Line could have.

                              Before I get attacked on this one I want to say yes, I realize I was part of the large Entertainment staff. I would have not had the opportunity I had to be an employee aboard the DELTA QUEEN with out the inflation of the staff aboard her.

                              So Bill, I hope people do support what you are saying on here because we can save the DELTA QUEEN for generations to come. This is a scary time with the boat dockside as a hotel. She won't survive much of this. She needs the care of qualified Engineers, the finesse of skilled Pilots, the spirit of a true Roof Captain, the dedication of a fine crew, and the smiling faces of countless passengers who come to her to experience the true grandure of the river and her place in the history of the American Steamboat. It isn't about a 5 course meal, a themed show, countless lecturers, bingo, crafts, or riverboat is about locks and dams, navigation channels, nature, wild life, and what Mark Twain wrote for us..."I became a traveler, no word ever tasted so good in my mouth". A person comes to her to see America. How about we put the banner back on her stern "Voyages to America"...because in the end, THAT is what it IS all about!

                              She ain't a cruise line and she never will stop marketing her to them and get back to the true meaning...she will survive because being used for what she was designed to be, this how she will continue. She isn't a hotel...and she won't be. I feel certain she has already told her current operator that as only she can. I can imagine they have already learned and are trying to accept this as this is written (and are probably throwing money at her bucking of their desires for her in huge amounts).

                              Lets support the DELTA QUEEN by finding a new owner for her and getting her back on the rivers where she belongs. Bill, your writings are genius...perhaps you have some the contacts we need to make this happen? Surely, there are some on this board who know people who have some of the money we need to make this happen. Perhaps some of the former crew can assist by reminding us of what the DELTA QUEEN was about in the 50's-early 70's so we can get things back to where they are supposed to be. I know with this guidance and good marketing she will come back stronger than ever before!

                              In summation, to quote former owner Letha Cavendish Greene..."Long Live The DELTA QUEEN"!

                              Former Riverlorian/Discovery Guide and PROUD FRN
                              Str. DELTA QUEEN


                                AHMEN TRAVIS!!
                                I missed most of the shows anyway because there was: the river: a lock: a sunset: a big tow going by: uh, the river; uh, the river. . .Oh, and conversations in the engine room! (but some of them were way past most everyone's bedtime!)
                                And, at least amongst this group, I'm one of the younger ones!
                                David D.