American Queen

Mississippi River

The American Queen is the third “Queen” from the former Delta Queen Steamboat Company and is probably the largest steamboat ever built. She was built in 1994 by McDermott Shipyard and launched in 1995 at an approximate cost of $60 million. Her steam engine are from the U.S. dredge Kennedy. As the paddle wheels are too small to move the large boat in every situation, there are two additional propellers which can be used if necessary.

Modern technique and historic charm makes a cruise on the American Queen an unforgettable experience.

The American Queen is 418 feet long and 89 feet 4” high. Equipped with 222 staterooms the “Queen” gives room for up to 436 passengers. The American Queen has a calliope with 37 gold-plated brass pipes, specially built for the American Queen.

Due to the bankruptcy of the parental company of the Delta Queen Steamboat Co., the American Classical Voyages, the American Queen went out of service in October 2001. Fortunately, the Delta Queen Steamboat Co. finally was bought by Delaware North Companies, Inc. and went back in service in January 2003.

End of the 2008 season, Majestic America Line decided to discontinue its cruise business. The American Queen had been returned to the MARAD and was on idle on a lake near Beaumont, TX, until August 2011 when she has been acquired by Hornblower and moved to a shipyard in Louisiana for a refit. The new Great American Steamboat Company, later renamed in American Queen Steamboat Company, with their headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee, started operating the American Queen again as a river cruise ship, beginning in April 2012.

Her – so far – last cruise started on December 29, 2023, in New Orleans and ended there on January 6, 2024.

As part of Hornblower Group and under the new name “American Queen Voyages” with some additional boats in the fleet, the company filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 on February 21, 2024. The American Queen, as other assets of the company, went on auction and was bought by American Cruise Lines.

On May 21, 2024, the American Queen arrived at a scrapyard in Houma, Louisiana. While American Cruise Lines still claim they’re looking for alternatives, it seems like her life will end here, sadly …


Whistle of the American Queen

American Queen Steam Whistle

The sound of the original whistle of the American Queen (taken from the HERBERT E. JONES) was very weak, not that the whistle itself was inappropriate but the steam supply line’s diameter was too small so the whistle didn’t get enough steam needed to unfold her full power. Today the whistle (a Kahlenberg whistle) now obviously is operated with a mixture of steam and pressurized air and gives her a full, though not completely “steamy” sound. That’s the sound you her in the recording here. In addition, the American Queen has an air horn and unfortunately most pilots prefer the air horn now over the whistle so on some cruises you’ll only rarely hear the whistle blow.

Calliope of the American Queen