American Queen cruises to bring area more visitors

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 15, 2004

NATCHEZ &045;&045; All aboard &045;&045; the American Queen is embarking on a new schedule of river vacation cruises that should bring hundreds of additional visitors to Natchez.

The Delta Queen Steamboat Co. has decided to dock its biggest steamboat on the southern Mississippi River on a full-time basis.

And it’s offering three- and four-night cruises on the New Orleans-themed American Queen starting this week.

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From New Orleans, the four-day cruise stops in Oak Alley, La., and Baton Rouge before visiting Natchez &045;&045; &uot;home to more historic homes per square mile than any other city in the South,&uot; according to Delta Queen’s publicity.

The tour also includes optional tours of the Vicksburg Battlefield, the Blue and Gray Museum and Frogmore Plantation.

But it’s the stops in Natchez local officials are most pleased about, with additional tourists bringing needed dollars into the local economy. The &uot;New Orleans & Riverboat Adventure Week&uot; cruises will mean 86 visits to Natchez this year, up from 57 visits last year. &uot;Any time a cruise boat docks, especially in a period of time when they’re normally not here, it’s great news for us,&uot; said Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith.

who announced the news at Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting. &uot;I don’t think there’s any doubt what this means to Natchez.&uot;

In addition, Natchez will be the first opportunity on the cruise for visitors to tour antebellum houses, &uot;so we should see an increase on home tours,&uot; Smith said.

&uot;We anticipate significant demand for our riverboat vacations well into the future,&uot; Bruce Nierenberg, Delta Queen’s executive vice president, said in a statement.