The American Queen Steamboat Co., which offers Mississippi River cruises that call on New Orleans, Baton Rouge and St. Francisville, will add a third vessel to its fleet in 2020.
The American Countess will start sailing in April, said Gary Frommelt, vice president of marine operations for the American Queen Steamboat Co. The Countess will accommodate 260 passengers and have about 100 crew members. Frommelt made the announcement Tuesday at a travel and tourism forum sponsored by Visit Baton Rouge.
A 245-passenger riverboat being built using a former casino boat's hull will be constructed in Houma by a Gulf Island Fabrication Inc. subsidiary.
The riverboat was built in Houma by a subsidiary of Gulf Island Fabrication. It was built using the hull of the Kanesville Queen, a gambling boat that was built in 1995.
The American Countess will join the American Queen and the American Duchess in the New Orleans to Memphis cruises. It’s slightly larger than the American Duchess, which can hold 160 passengers and has an 80-person crew. The American Queen holds 410 passengers and has a crew of 160.
Frommelt said about 20% of the passengers who sail on the cruises are international visitors, while 28% are repeat customers. Passengers spend an average of $128 at each shore stop, according to Cruise Lines International Association. “They’re pretty much affluent retired folks,” he said, noting the average age of a passenger is 72.