posted by Charles H. Russo on Oct 20

Majestic America Line, one of the world’s premier river cruise lines and the largest river and coastal cruising company in America, announced today that despite tremendous efforts by the company, many esteemed partners and thousands of previous guests, the U.S. Congress has decided that the Delta Queen should not continue operating on America’s rivers beyond 2008.

Majestic America Line is committed to providing this American treasure with a proper and well-deserved send-off, and it will spend the Delta Queen’s 2008 farewell season celebrating this historic landmark with the communities and people who hold her storied tradition of sailing the waterways of the United States so dear.

Built in 1926, the Delta Queen features a steel hull and a superstructure constructed of
wood – a direct reflection of the designs of her time. Subsequent Coast Guard regulations prohibited wooden superstructures, but Congress decided more than 40 years ago to provide a special exemption from these rules for the historic Delta Queen.
This exemption, which Congress had extended no fewer than six occasions, was set to expire in November 2008. Majestic America Line recently joined forces with those who know and love the fabled ship to extend this exemption. A comprehensive campaign was launched to raise awareness for the Delta Queen’s excellent safety record, its impeccable training program and the quality and experience of the crew.

However, Congress recently chose not to include this extension on legislation. Without the extension from Congress, the Delta Queen will not be able to continue cruise voyages on the river. “We are incredibly disappointed by this decision, but we are extremely grateful to those who worked tirelessly on behalf of the Delta Queen to preserve her place on the Mississippi River,” said Joe Ueberroth, President and CEO, Ambassadors International, which owns and operates Majestic America Line. “This includes many congressional leaders such as Congressman Lacy Clay (D-MO), who gathered the support of so many of his colleagues, thousands of loyal guests, our hard-working travel partners and Delta Queen enthusiasts like Steamboats.org. We appreciate their efforts and we will continue to keep them involved as we plan the best way to honor the Delta Queen.”

In addition to the leadership displayed by Congressman Clay, members such as
Congressman Richard Baker (R-LA), representing congressional districts that are visited each year by the Delta Queen, were very supportive of the efforts to keep her operating on the river. These members include:
o Congressman Todd Akin (R-MO)
o Congressman Marion Berry (D-AR)
o Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
o Senator Christopher “Kit” Bond (R-MO)
o Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH)
o Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO)
o Congressman Kenny Hulshof (R-MO)
o Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI)
o Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
o Congresswoman Bettie McCollum (D-MN)
o Congressman Charlie Melancon (D-LA)
o Congresswoman Jean Schmidt (R-OH)
o Congressman John Tanner (D-TN)
o Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-MS)
o Senator David Vitter (R-LA)
o Congressman Timothy Walz (D-MN)
o Congressman Zack Wamp (R-TN)
o Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-KY)

Support and encouragement also came from districts which are not directly touched by
the Delta Queen, including Congressman Roy Blunt (R-MO), Congressman Gene Taylor
(D-MS) and Congressman Don Young (R-AK).

Based in Seattle, Majestic America Line is also grateful for the support from Washington
state members, including Congressman Brian Baird (D-WA) and Senator Maria Cantwell
(D-WA).

For years, the Delta Queen has been a beloved fixture on the heartland rivers of the
United States and provided guests with a view of America from the waters that shaped
the country’s expansion. The Delta Queen provides a wholly unique way to experience
the great American communities, cultures and experiences along the Upper and Lower
Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Arkansas, Black Warrior and Cumberland rivers, as well as the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.

In 1970, recognized as the last operational steam paddlewheeler with overnight accommodations plying the rivers, the Delta Queen was listed in the National Register of
Historic Places. In 1989, she was designated as a National Historic Landmark by the
U.S. Department of Interior. She was inducted into the National Maritime Hall of Fame in
2004.

A veteran of World War II and the only steamboat to transit the Panama Canal, the 80
year-old Delta Queen was host to three U.S. presidents and a princess. Stars of stage,
screen and the entertainment world have also graced her decks, as well as some of the
most prominent business leaders and statesmen of our time.

The ship itself is rich with art and antiquities such as original Tiffany-style stained glass
windows, rich hardwood paneling, gleaming brass fittings, the only Siamese ironwood
floor aboard a steamboat, the dramatic and often-photographed Grand Staircase, an
1897 steam calliope, and the very same ship’s bell that sounded out landings for the
steamboat that Mark Twain rode downriver in 1883.

Majestic America Line will dedicate the 2008 season to celebrating the Delta Queen’s
80 years of service and her fabled time on the river. “A journey on board the Delta Queen is a true American experience, providing guests with an authentic glimpse of our country’s culture and a time in our history when steamboats ruled the rivers,” said David A. Giersdorf, President, Majestic America Line. “We will make every sailing in 2008 a special event, allowing every guest, like so many before, the opportunity to share in the Delta Queen’s legacy and honor the last chapter in her service on the river.”

Majestic America Line is planning special commemorative events, exclusive departures
for previous Delta Queen guests and commemorative gifts that will mark the farewell
season. With just 24 departures on the Delta Queen during 2008, guests are encouraged to reserve their place in history soon. The company is continuing to evaluate the best way to preserve her legendary spirit and her esteemed place in American history for future generations.

To find out more about traveling on the Delta Queen, please contact your Travel
Professional, call a reservation specialist at (800) 434-1232 or visit www.MajesticAmericaLine.com

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