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will transform a casino boat that never went anywhere to a luxury cruise vessel that’s expected to set sail next June on the inland rivers.
“We’re starved for more capacity,” said Ted Sykes, president and COO of the Memphis, Tenn.-based line that operates the .
The all-suite luxury comes at prices starting at $2,999 for a nine-day trip from Memphis to New Orleans.
The hull is in “great shape” as are the Caterpillar 3516 engines, Sykes said in announcing the fleet addition this week.
They’ll add a working paddlewheel to the vessel that will be homeported in Memphis and cruise the Mississippi and the Illinois rivers up to Ottawa, Ill., with a crew of 80.
Sykes said company chairman John Waggoner, who also heads HMS Global Maritime, has been scouring the country looking for hulls. “This one will not satisfy the demand,” Sykes said. river and coastal cruising have really blossomed since 2012 when American Cruise Lines, headquartered in Guilford, Conn., and American Queen returned regular overnight cruising to the inland rivers.
According to Sykes, the company has been running in excess of 95% capacity this year, and next year’s sales are twice as high. Earlier this year ACL’s newest ship, Dale Du Pont has been a correspondent for Work Boat since 1998.
She has worked at daily and weekly newspapers in Texas, Maryland, and most recently as a business writer and editor at The Miami Herald, covering the cruise, marine and other industries.
She and her husband once owned a weekly newspaper in Cooperstown, N.
Y., across the alley from the Baseball Hall of Fame.