Gretna got a taste of French luxury Thursday with the inaugural launch of the Louisiane, a 150-passenger riverboat.
Luxury cruise operator French America Line, which purchased the vessel in 2015, plans to offer 5- to 16-day cruises on the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Cumberland and Red rivers. The itineraries include stops at major cities along the way.
Local officials and French America Line executives celebrated the launch Thursday. Described as a "boutique riverboat," the Louisiane will be based at the downtown Gretna ferry landing that has been underused since regular service across the river to New Orleans was halted a few years ago.
French America Line established its headquarters at the Jefferson Economic Development Commission's Business Innovation Center in Avondale earlier this year.
“Greater New Orleans as a destination embodies the concept behind French America Line, to engage guests with explorations of the rich heritage of distinct places along U.S. waterways that were once part of French America at the time of the country’s colonization," said Christopher Kyte, French America Line's chairman.
The Louisiane is expected to generate more than 80 local jobs on-shore and on-board, company officials say.