The American Queen Steamboat Company’s new vessel, American Duchess, will be christened Aug. 13 and set sail from New Orleans the following day.

This is the third riverboat for the company, which also owns and operates the American Queen and American Empress.

"The all-suite, 166-guest American Duchess will be the first purpose-built boutique paddle wheeler offering guests the largest suites on the Mississippi River," a news release said.

Like the American Queen, the American Duchess will offer overnight stays from New Orleans.

Other Louisiana stops on the American Duchess itinerary include Nottoway Plantation & Resort in White Castle, the historic district in downtown St. Francisville and museums and attractions in Baton Rouge.

The American Duchess features suites ranging from 250 square feet to 550 square-foot loft suites. Two dining venues offer open seating and regionally-inspired cuisine similar to that of the American Queen, the release said.

Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean International will return to New Orleans with a seasonal home-based cruise ship in late 2018.

The 915-foot Vision of the Seas will sail on Saturdays on seven-night itineraries to the Bahamas and Yucatan Peninsula.

The 2,514-passenger Vision of the Seas was refurbished in 2013 and features 12 decks and 234 staterooms with balconies, eight pools and whirlpools and eight bars and lounges, a news release said. Vision of the Seas also has an outdoor movie screen, five new dining experiences, the Vitality Spa, the adults-only Solarium Pool, Casino Royale and Broadway-style entertainment.

Before arriving in New Orleans on Dec. 15, 2018, Vision of the Seas will offer two 16-night sailings through the Panama Canal from Miami to Los Angeles and from Los Angeles to New Orleans, marking the first time in three years a Royal Caribbean cruise ship will traverse the Panama Canal, the release said.

Also, Carnival Cruise Line's New Orleans-based Carnival Dream has added another dining option, Guy Fieri’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse. The chef and Food Network star's open-air eatery was added to the Dream as part of a drydock finished in mid-February. 

In addition to the Carnival Dream, the Pig & Anchor is also available on Carnival’s newest ship the Carnival Vista, the Carnival Magic (Port Canaveral) and the Carnival Breeze (Galveston). 

Carnival Dream operates year-round seven-day cruises from New Orleans with western Caribbean cruises visiting Montego Bay, Cozumel and Grand Cayman; or Mahogany Bay (Roatan Island), Belize and Cozumel; and a Bahamas/Florida route calling at Key West, Freeport and Nassau.

Join Friends on safari

The Friends of the Baton Rouge Zoo are going on safari and looking for some company.

The trip to Kenya will take place Nov. 4-14. Zoo director Phil Frost will lead the tour, with Kenya's Peter Njuguna serving as naturalist guide.

The adventure includes stops in Nairobi, Lake Nakuru National Park, Lake Elmenteita, Maasai Mara, the northern Serengeti and the Serena Mountain Lodge's "tree hotel."

For pricing and additional information, email

Follow Judy Bergeron on Twitter, @judybergeronbr.