When the American Queen pulls into its Memphis home port Thursday morning, April 26, it will be the second time the world’s largest steamboat has stopped in the city.
The American Queen crew includes what are called “riverlorians” as well as a Mark Twain impersonator. And passengers can go into the steam engine room where engineers and mechanics are on duty to answer questions about the boat.
For Memphis and the other cities where the American Queen stops, the passengers aren’t just momentarily passing through, which had been the experience in Memphis toward the end of the 20th century. Before Tom Lee Park was expanded, riverboat passengers disembarked at John B. Edgar Point and took a combination of shuttle buses and cabs perhaps to The Peabody hotel for rigmarole – a program built around riverboat entertainment traditions – and headed back to the tiny river landing. Or they would end their journey in Memphis.
Every cruise in Memphis on the American Queen comes with a deluxe hotel night the day before departure. Passengers can move the hotel night to the end of the cruise if they wish. But GASC is buying a hotel room night in Memphis for an estimated 7,000 passengers a year – “largely people who might not have made a decision to come to Memphis for vacation at all,” Krida said.
“The next day-and-a-half that they spend in Memphis that they wouldn’t without that inclusion, they are buying meals and paying admission to other attractions and they’re going home with the ability to tell the story about what a great experience they had in Memphis,” he added. “In the past, people would come in, get off the airplane, get on the boat and leave town and really not experience Memphis.”
The christening ceremony Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. is open to the public who can watch from the grass lawn that is the top of Beale Street Landing.
-From Memphis Daily News