Congress extends exemption to keep Delta Queen afloat


NEW ORLEANS (WDEF) – The Delta Queen may make a comeback in the next few years to the Tennessee River.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to reinstate an exemption to fire codes that would allow the steamboat to carry overnight passengers again.

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Cornel Martin of the Delta Queen Steamboat Company says “With this approval, we may now move forward with our renovations and return her the waterways, where she belongs.”

The last overnight steamboat has churned through ownership changes, renovations and bankruptcy through the last few years.

The Delta Queen was built in 1927 and named a National Historic Landmark in 1989.

But its last paying gig was as a moored, boutique hotel in Chattanooga.

For five years, the Queen was docked at Coolidge Park after loosing the federal exemption to continue operating on the rivers of the south.

Then in 2014, new owners took it to Louisiana for refurbishment.  It has been there ever since, retired.

However, the Delta Queen Steamboat Company is planning to return to river traffic in 2020.

They are promising themed voyages along the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Cumberland, Kanawha and Arkansas Rivers.

Chattanooga will once again be a port of call.

“A remarkable piece of the nation’s maritime history is reborn,” said Leah Ann Ingram, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Delta Queen Steamboat Company. “The Delta Queen is an American icon that offers a nostalgic experience unlike any other vessel. Since 2010, restoring and returning her to overnight service has been our mission. Today, we’re thrilled to take the next step to welcoming explorers and history enthusiasts aboard this floating piece of history.”

For more information about the Delta Queen and upcoming cruises, go to