New casino boat docks at port

Published 12:45 am Tuesday, February 5, 2008

NATCHEZ — Pushed by Jane and pulled by Sydney V. the Grand Soleil got to Natchez on Monday afternoon after a long, lumbering trip up the Mississippi.

Sydney and Jane are the two tugboats that inched the mammoth boat into place at the Natchez-Adams County Port.

And the boat is mammoth.

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Executive Port Director Anthony Hauer said the boat is the biggest vessel to ever be docked at the port.

“It’s pretty impressive,” he said.

The boat is so large it takes up almost all of the space in front of the port’s dock.

And it is so high that in some spots it seems as if stepping off of the dock onto the roof of the ship isn’t more than a short leap.

While the boat’s size is striking what the boat represents is perhaps the most exciting thing about it.

Casino officials say with in the four and a half months the casino should be complete.

Grand Soleil’s Director of Marketing Baxter Lee was at the dock to see the ship’s homecoming.

“This is very, very exciting for all of us,” he said.

But right now the ship is only a shell of what it will be.

It currently has no interior.

“This is where the insides will go in,” Lee said.

For the next four to five months the boat will sit just down river from its permanent resting spot south of the bridge.

While docked at the port the soon to be casino will get everything that makes it a casino.

Over the course of the next few months the boat will get flooring, plumbing, seating and hundreds of slot machines.

Lee said the most difficult part about the casino’s completion will be making it coincide with the opening of the Grand Soleil’ hotel.

“We want them to be done at the same time,” he said.

“That’s the tricky part.”

Lee said if all goes according to plan the casino and hotel will finish at the same time.