POINT PLEASANT — The American Queen steamboat docked in Point Pleasant this weekend after being re-christened only a few days earlier by the Queen of Rock and Roll, Priscilla Presley.
Last week in Memphis, Tenn., Presley ceremoniously smashed a bottle of champagne to re-launch the boat on its inaugural voyage to Cincinnati, Ohio and into its new opulent life as the premiere way to travel along America’s rivers.
Memphis is the home of the American Queen and employs many people from the area. The American Queen set sail with her first paying customers on April 13 when it left New Orleans. The American Queen has excursions on both the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.
During its stay at the Point Pleasant Riverfront, the American Queen, also known as the First Lady of the Mississippi, drew a large crowd of local residents who wanted to catch a glimpse of one of the last great steamboats in its latest, luxurious reincarnation. Though only passengers were permitted onboard the boat, visitors to the riverfront were impressed with the shear size and spectacle of the vessel which stretched nearly from Fourth Street to Second Street. The boat reportedly can have a crew of 160 and is 418 feet long and 89 feet wide.
Passengers on the American Queen departed the vessel for tours through Point Pleasant, including a stop at the Point Pleasant River Museum among other destinations. The boat’s stop in Point Pleasant also benefited the city financially with water and sanitation services provided to the American Queen. The city also charges for the transportation of crew to pick up supplies and charges a flat fee for the tours given to passengers.
Built in 1995, the American Queen is said to have the capacity to transport 436 passengers who travel in opulent surroundings complete with Tiffany lamps and fine dining. The American Queen was purchased for $15.5 million with another $6 million to refurbish the vessel.
For those who didn’t get to see the American Queen this past weekend, she will return on Friday, July 20. On that day at 11:30 a.m., the boat’s Dixieland Band will perform on the riverfront stage in Point Pleasant.