Queens’ reigns coming to end

Published 12:26 am Sunday, November 2, 2008

NATCHEZ — Two queens will soon step down from their reigns.

The Delta Queen and the American Queen, two paddleboats that have docked in Natchez for years, will no longer be traveling down the Mississippi.

The Delta Queen has been exempt from the Safety of Life at Sea Act of 1966 ever since it was enacted. It’s wooden hull causes it to be a hazard under the act, but the act has not ceased the ship from traveling.

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However, its exemption ran out Saturday, and it will be decommissioned.

The America Queen, owned by Majestic America Line, does not have any voyages scheduled beyond 2008.

Vanessa Bloy, Majestic America Line public relations director, said the company is for sale, and because of that, any scheduling has not been done beyond this year due to the sales process.

Both queens make a stop in Natchez on Nov. 4. For the Delta Queen, it will be its last stop in Natchez forever.

That’s why Natchez Pilgrimage Tours Director Marsha Colson has pulled together a farewell celebration for the boat that’s brought countless tourists to the area.

Bloy said Majestic America has planned for the boat to dock at 4 p.m. that day and there will be a presentation given by the captain of the boat. There will also be a calliope concert.

From the city’s side, a proclamation for the boat will be read, and greeters, some dressed in period costume, will be out on Silver Street to welcome to boat in.

The city will also a hang a banner for the boat, and the public is invited to line Silver and Broadway streets to wave a warm farewell to send the boat off.

“I think it would be great if as many people as possible would be there,” Colson said.

She said it’s important for the boat to have a send off because it’s been crucial not only in being a part of the history of Natchez but also to the city’s economy and the tourists it brought it.

“They came in town and shopped and probably spread a lot of good word about Natchez,” Colson said. “We all know word of mouth advertising is good advertising.”

And the same goes for the American Queen, which will make its very last stop in Natchez on Nov. 10.

“In numerous ways those vessels’ visits were good for Natchez, for national name recognition, for the economy of the town in general and for tour homes in particular,” Colson said.

Colson said for the last time the American Queen comes through, she hopes for Broadway and Silver streets to be lined with people for a grand farewell, just like she hopes for the Delta Queen.