HANNIBAL, Mo. — Riverboats of the American Queen Steamboat Co. will resume its cruises on the Mississippi River later this summer.
"Here at AQSC, we are beyond thrilled to begin cruising again this July 20," said John Waggoner, founder and CEO of the American Queen Steamboat Co. in a media release. "We hope that with this extended suspension and our ongoing work with local partners in each of the communities we visit will help bring our guests back to the river and allow us to continue offering the same high quality, extraordinary cruise experience they are desiring."
Gail Bryant, director of the Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau, was among those applauding the steamboat company's news.
"We are excited to welcome the large riverboats back to Mark Twain's hometown," Bryant said. "We have been in contact with them and they have been very diligent in creating a safe environment for their passengers in the places they dock. Our attractions are excited at the prospect of once again welcoming passengers."
Hannibal tourism will definitely benefit from the return of the large riverboats, Bryant said.
"The passengers have dedicated stops that they make at many of our attractions, which of course helps boost the local tourism economy," she said. "We are very proud of our attractions and the safety measures they have put in place during these unprecedented times. Having riverboat visitors coming to attractions will be welcome."
The AQSC recently announced a partnership with Ochsner Health, a Louisiana-based health care provider. Ochsner Health is working with AQSC on implementing disease prevention and mitigation strategies across the entire AQSC fleet.
Supplementing this partnership, AQSC has relationships with regional health care providers along all of its routes and the ability to transport passengers ashore quickly and efficiently for treatment.
According to the company, the American Duchess will resume its operations on July 20 when it begins a seven-day cruise up the Mississippi River, from St. Louis to Minneapolis.
The American Countess, the latest paddlewheeler to join the AQSC fleet on the Mississippi River, and the American Queen, which also sails on the Mississippi River, will both remain docked through Aug. 8.
The AQSC may not be the only company with riverboats visiting Hannibal this summer.
"We are in communication with other steamboat companies," Bryant said. "As we know, even during normal riverboat seasons many things can affect dockings, low water, high water, scheduling issues. We are looking forward to having the other boats return whenever that may be."
With Hannibal's riverfront still a work in progress, steps are being taken to accommodate visiting riverboats.
"Our riverfront revitalization is something the whole community is looking forward to, as well as our visitors," Bryant said. "We know the riverboats are working with the city to look at all docking possibilities."