Katrina strikes again: American Queen axes 2006 sailings

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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Delta Queen Steamboat Co. said the American Queens 2006 schedule will be cancelled due to conditions in New Orleans and along the lower Mississippi River.

The vessel has been privately chartered through January, and possibly beyond that time, said Delta Queen President Bruce Nierenberg. It currently is housing refinery workers in Belle Chasse, La.

It is apparent that the upriver itineraries would have a difficult time supporting a three-boat operation [in 2006], said the Delta Queen Steamboat Co.

Unlike its sister ships the Delta Queen and the Mississippi Queen, the American Queen offers short cruises from New Orleans that are coupled with short stays in the Crescent City -- a concept that was created and promoted by Nierenberg.

The American Queen is scheduled to return to service in 2007.

Nobody likes to call people who have vacations planned and tell them we have to make a change, Nierenberg said.

The companys reservations staff is contacting customers to offer alternative voyages aboard the Delta Queen and the Mississippi Queen or a full refund.

So far its been pretty calm, Nierenberg said. Some are opting to wait until next year, and its early so we dont have a problem accommodating everyone who wants to go next year.

The Delta Queen and Mississippi Queen are slated to operate with minimal schedule changes this spring.

To contact reporter Kristin OMeara Hillmann, send e-mail to [email protected].

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