Delayed maiden voyage for casino boat-turned-riverboat – WorkBoat (blog)

The American Queen Steamboat Co. has delayed the maiden voyage of American Duchess until Aug. 13, citing high water on the Upper Mississippi River that affected the move to a Louisiana yard for work.

The Memphis, Tenn.-based company’s original announcement said the vessel would begin operations in June. The addition will give the company a fleet of three passenger vessels.

American Queen last August purchased for an undisclosed sum the former Bettendorf Capri, a two-deck, 280’6”x87’x14’ Iowa-based casino boat built in 1995. The slot machines were gone, but they removed over 1,000 slot bases, 1,200 steel chairs, a closed circuit TV system and more leaving a steel superstructure for the multi-million dollar conversion into a three-deck, 166-passenger luxury vessel at Bollinger Shipyards, Amelia, La.

Before and after the interior of the casino boat Bettendorf Capri was gutted as part of its transformation to the American Duchess. American Queen Steamboat Co. photo.

The line’s overnight river cruise fleet has been built with existing vessels. It bought the 436-passenger American Queen in 2011 and the 223-passenger American Empress in 2013 from the U.S. Maritime Administration (Marad). Both boats constructed with Title XI loan guarantees were turned over to Marad after the 2008 collapse of Majestic America Line.

American Duchess passengers booked on affected cruises are being offered a similar itinerary on other 2017 sailings or a full refund, the company said.

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