Michelle Baran
Michelle Baran

InsightThis year’s Mississippi river cruising rebirth owes much to the long and storied legacy of overnight cruising along the mighty Mississippi River System, and consequently to the pioneering paddlewheelers that once plied the rivers in decades past.

It also owes much to the loyal passengers who have enthusiastically sailed up and down the Mississippi time and time again. To honor those Mississippi River loyalists, the American Queen Steamboat Co. has reintroduced the Paddlewheel Steamboating Society of America, a loyalty program that for many years honored faithful passengers of paddlewheelers such as the Delta Queen, Mississippi Queen and American Queen (the latter of the three was relaunched by the company earlier this year) with special pre- or post-cruise shore programs. 

For the Dec. 14 Old Fashioned Holidays sailing aboard the 436-passenger American Queen, members of the Paddlewheel Steamboating Society of America, past and present, are being invited to a pre-cruise reunion in New Orleans, Dec. 12 to 14, with two nights at the Roosevelt New Orleans and a gala cocktail event at the hotel’s Blue Room, among other festive meals, celebrations and sightseeing options.

The American Queen is the only paddlewheeler remaining from the fabled Delta Queen Steamboat Co. fleet of yore. The Mississippi Queen has been scrapped and the 174-passenger Delta Queen, perhaps the most legendary of them all, built in 1926, is being operated as a floating hotel in Chattanooga, Tenn.

“The loyal community of former Paddlewheel Steamboating Society of America members has played a major role in bringing authentic steamboating to fruition once again,” American Queen Steamboat Co. CEO Jeffrey Krida said in a statement.

He advised that those who are new to steamboating can become a member during the reunion voyage and will be “enthusiastically welcomed into this passionate community.”

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