American Queen returning to NatchezPublished 12:00am Sunday, April 15, 2012
Natchez Visitor Reception Center Public Relations Coordinator Sally Durkin said she expects the greatest impact will be for local gift shops and potentially antique stores.
Meals are provided on the boat, so restaurants may not enjoy as many sales, Durkin said.
Regardless, the potential economic impact is significant, Durkin and Natchez Pilgrimage Tours Director Marsha Colson agreed.
“It’s very, very, very significant,” Colson said. “I think there will be a real trickle down effect.”
Colson said she can point to obvious benefits from the boats on NPT financials prior to 2009 and has seen losses ever since.
With all that in mind, the Natchez Convention and Visitor’s Bureau is planning a grand welcome for the boat’s Monday arrival.
The community is encouraged to line the bluff between 7:30 and 8 a.m. to wave as the boat approaches and again at 5 p.m. as it departs.
In addition, passengers will de-board to the sounds of a jazz ensemble and sights of locals in period costume.
The mayor will give a welcome speech and a proclamation and present the Queen with a Natchez flag.
Durkin said the CVB had planned to recreate the floozy contest that was popular for boat dockings years ago, but the steamboat didn’t have enough time to prepare its passengers and crew. She does hope to revive the tradition — having locals judge mock floozies who come off the boat — in the future.
Passengers on the boat Monday and for all 2012 cruises have several options after they unload in Natchez.
The steamboat has hired a Shore Excursions of America to handle tours along the boat’s stops. Two planned tours are available in Natchez. Twenty passengers can choose to visit Twin Oaks and participate in a cooking demonstration with local chef Regina Charboneau for $59.
Charboneau is also the culinary director on the steamboat.
Those passengers will spend much of the afternoon at Twin Oaks.
Other passengers, up to 55 people, can participate in the Music, Mistresses and Marriage tour for $59. Buses will take the travelers to Frogmore Plantation in Louisiana and Magnolia Hall in Natchez.
That tour will last from noon to 4:40 p.m.