An American queen was on hand to rechristen another American Queen as Priscilla Presely helped bring the largest steamboat ever built back into service.
Acting as godmother to The American Queen, the wife of the late Elvis Presley was on hand to swing the champagne bottle at a Memphis ceremony on Friday.
The 436-passenger vessel was originally built for the Delta Queen Steamboat Company in 1995. The boat changed hands over the years, but had not been running the Mississippi since 2008. It's now been brought back for river cruising by The Great American Steamboat Company.
"Today is an unprecedented example of a company and community coming together in a short amount of time to achieve a truly American dream," said company CEO Jeffrey D. Krida. "A global audience is watching Memphis today and I look forward to the world discovering the heartland of the United States once again on our grand and gracious American Queen."
The steamboat's homeport is Memphis, and will offer 3- to 10-night cruises on the upper and lower Mississippi as well as the Ohio and Tennessee rivers with stops at cities including New Orleans, St. Louis, Louisville, St. Paul, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.
After the christening, the American Queen departed on its inaugural voyage up the Mississippi River to the Ohio River eventually making its way to Cincinnati, the long-time home of the Delta Queen Steamboat Company. On May 2 in Louisville, the vessel will compete in the Great Steamboat Race with the Belle of Louisville and Belle of Cincinnati as part of the Kentucky Derby weekend festivities.
"The naming ceremony for any vessel is a turning point." Company President Christopher Kyte wrote on his blog. "It's the point at which she is turned out into the world to make her way. Even though the American Queen has a couple of voyages under her belt and, of course, a previous history dating back to 1995, today is still just as important as if she were hearing her name for the first time. Today is the day that the American Queen became a full and complete part of Memphis and of the Great American Steamboat Company."
For more details on the steamboat, go to greatamericansteamboatcompany.com.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun