I actually discovered that we were docked at the Paper Clip here in Baton Rouge last night just after 9. This is the first time that we’ve been docked this trip, believe it or not.
Baton Rouge is the capital of the state of Louisiana. It is a rather good looking city. Interestingly, Barry noted that even though there is river passenger traffic these days, there are no touristy shops and restaurants near the river to capture the tourist dollar.
Our morning began with a very wet 3 mile walk around deck 4. There was a rather steady rain, and we were competing with deck hands with squeegees.
After breakfast, we stopped down for the 8:30 “Dare to Dream – the building of the American Queen” presentation – a film documentary done back in the mid-90’s by the Delta Steamboat Company, which conceived of and built the American Queen.
It took nearly 2 years to construct the largest steamboat on the river, by far, starting in 1993 and the ship was delivered to its new owners on May 4, 1995. The paddle wheel weighs in at 50 tons! And, the 84 year old steam engine was discovered and recovered and restored from an American Corps of Engineers vessel named the “Kennedy”. It took a series of short test cruises up to Pittsburgh for its inaugural cruise – Pittsburgh to New Orleans. Their intention was to take people back in time to the hey day of the luxury steamboat passenger boats of the 1800’s. They did it – and it came in around $65 million, which doesn’t sound too bad.
Delta Steamboat Company had issues, and eventually went bankrupt somewhere around 2007. It was said that the American Queen was actually owned by the US Government for a few years and spent that time in Texas, until the American Queen Steamboat Company formed in 2012.
The American Queen is the largest vessel, by far, with a capacity of 430 with about 160 crew. They also own the American Empress, which holds about 230 passengers. Their new boat, the American Dutchess will hold about 166 – with all suites – setting sail in 2017.
The slow, or “shoulder season” is November into early March.
We had no excursions planned for the day, so we wandered over to the USS Kidd, a World War II era destroyer that saw action – and suffered some fatalities. It is now part of a museum, like the New Jersey, back home. We started with the gift shop and then took the tour. It was a good self-tour.
We were told during the evening show and announcements that Tom Hanks was on the USS Kidd this afternoon, too – scoping out the ship for a potential new movie.
We opted for the relatively short Hop On Hop Off Bus tour – basically to stay warm and get a free bus tour of the city – non-narrated.
Back at the boat, we grabbed lunch and then caught Bobby Durham’s presentation at 1:30, “Controlling the River”. In summary, while they’ve tried many things over the years, you can’t prevent flooding, entirely.
Naps, reading, blogging, and whatever ensued for the rest of the afternoon; getting ready for our normal dinner hour. Barry pulled a fast one on me at dinner tonight. While everyone else got this delicious looking desert, I was handed a fork and a spinach and arugula and broccoli salad! – everyone, including the staff had a good laugh – and, yes, I did end up with my desert, too.
Tonight’s show was Terry Mike Jeffries band, which does some excellent Elvis music. We will get to listen to them again tomorrow night.