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Mississippi River’s newest cruise boat docks in Natchez on maiden voyage

NATCHEZ — American Queen Steamboat Company’s newest vessel, the American Countess, made her maiden voyage on the Mississippi River with Natchez as her destination on Tuesday evening.

Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson along with other mayors along the Mississippi was invited on the vessel to share in her debut voyage.

The boat was scheduled to dock for the first time in Natchez at 6 p.m. Tuesday for an overnight stay and a private welcome reception at The Towers.

“We are honored that American Queen Steamboat Company chose Natchez for this maiden voyage,” Gibson said in a phone call from the ship Tuesday.

Gibson said Ginger and James Hyland at The Towers provided the VIP visitors, including travel writers from across America, from The American Countess a Natchez Experience “like no other.”

“Of all cities and venues on the Mississippi River, the American Queen Steamboat Company chose Natchez and The Towers for a VIP Gala Event to commemorate the inaugural cruise of the newest ship on the river, The American Countess,” he said.

“We are so excited to be back in Natchez after not being here a whole year,” said John Waggoner, founder and CEO of the American Queen Steamboat Company. “Natchez Has always been one of the favorite stops along the river for any of our three paddle wheelers, and our guests always comment on the hospitality, historic culture and the friendliest mayor along the river.”

All passengers were tested for COVID-19 prior to being let on board, Gibson said.

Alderman Dan Dillard would enact his position as Mayor Pro Tem for Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting of the Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen while the boat’s passengers are kept isolated for the voyage as an added precaution, he said.

According to the steamboat company’s website, the American Countess will carry up to 245 guests along the Tennessee, Ohio, Cumberland, and Mississippi rivers.

The ship features a sleek, contemporary design with forward-facing windows and a portside bar with an 80-foot view; a dining room with fresh regional cuisine and floor-to-ceiling windows; a gym with new equipment as well as a card room, library and theater.

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