American Queen Steamboat Company’s American Duchess was christened in New Orleans on the banks of the mighty Mississippi. The 166-guest riverboat, the first all-suite paddlewheeler on America’s rivers, officially joins the company’s fleet with the Memphis-based American Queen and the American Empress, based in the Pacific Northwest. Marissa Applegate, daughter of Chairman and CEO John Waggoner, is the godmother of the American Duchess and broke a bottle of Maker’s Mark bourbon on the boat’s hull culminating the ceremonial festivities.
“I could not be more appreciative of all the hard work from every person involved in making the American Duchess dream come true; it’s times like these that I am reminded just how incredible this team and family is,” shared American Queen Steamboat Company Chairman and CEO John Waggoner. “Thank you for being here to witness this special celebration with our entire crew and myself. We are thrilled to welcome the American Duchess to our fleet.”
During the ceremony remarks were made by executives and dignitaries including John Waggoner, American Queen Steamboat Company Chairman and CEO; Ted Sykes, American Queen Steamboat Company President and COO; Wayne Arguin, New Orleans Port Captain at the U.S. Coast Guard and Bill Samuels, Jr., Chairman of Maker’s Mark. Joy Manthey of Seaman’s Church blessed the American Duchess and the ceremony concluded with a bourbon presentation by Maker’s Mark to celebrate the line’s partnership with American Queen Steamboat Company.
“The American Duchess is a culmination of our company’s core values and finest attributes, poised to deliver our trademark level of gracious service, first-class entertainment, superlative fine dining and award-winning shore excursions,” described American Queen Steamboat Company President and COO Ted Sykes. “With the first Loft Suites on U.S. rivers, she is an innovation that will no doubt set new standards for excellence within the industry.”
Before christening the American Duchess, Marissa Applegate shared what it meant to join the elite club of ship godmothers including Princess Kate Middleton, Sophia Loren, American Queen Godmother Priscilla Presley and American Empress Godmother Claudette Waggoner.
“In addition to the pride I take being the godmother of the American Duchess today, it has been such a joy to stand by my father and watch him grow this company from the ground up,” shared American Duchess Godmother Marissa Applegate. “Thank you to everyone for bestowing this honor on me and letting me be a part of this special day.”
The American Duchess features a generous space ratio showcased by three 550 sq. ft. Owner’s Suites, four 550 sq. ft. Loft Suites, a U.S. riverboat first; and spacious Veranda Suites with sliding glass doors to private balconies and Interior Suites. The new vessel incorporates the highest standards of service, entertainment and shore excursions customers have come to expect from the American Queen Steamboat Company. Featuring open seating with two dining venues, The Grand Dining Room and The River Club and Terrace offer regionally inspired cuisine similar to that of the American Queen.
After the christening, the American Duchess will be departing on her maiden voyage up the Mississippi River with stops in Natchez, Ms., Vicksburg, Ms., Memphis, Tn., Paducah, Ky., St. Louis, Mo., and other charming ports before arriving in her disembarkation city of Red Wing, Mn. near the northern terminus of the river. This 23-day voyage spans the length of the mighty Mississippi and will provide guests with an unforgettable vantage point of America’s heartland.
A variety of voyage lengths, ranging from six days and up, and fares beginning at $2,999 per guest, offers exceptional value and convenience, with little or no flying required. Pre- or post-cruise luxury hotel stay, all bottled water and soft drinks, wine and beer at dinner and complimentary shore adventures are included in each port of call.
American Queen Steamboat Company
The American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC) is the owner and operator of the U.S. flagged American Queen, the largest, most opulent riverboat in the world. Longer than a football field, towering six decks in height and laced with fanciful gingerbread trim, she is a marvel of modern engineering. Her journeys through the heartland offer a unique perspective on America’s history, culture and landscape with convenient departures from some of America’s most iconic river port cities including Memphis, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis and St. Paul. In April 2014, AQSC began serving the Pacific Northwest with opulence and grandeur on the American Empress and added the innovative American Duchess to the Mississippi River in August 2017.