The sale of the American Queen steamboat to HMS Global Maritime was finalized last week for $15.5 million, and by next April, the 436-passenger ship will launch it's first trip out of Memphis.
The Great American Steamboat Company, which is affiliated with HMS Maritime, will operate overnight cruises on the American Queen, a 16-year-old ship that hasn't sailed since the 2008 shutdown of the Majestic America Line. Great American Steamboat is moving its headquarters to One Commerce Square downtown this September.
"We're finally coming home to the center of the American river system," said Jeff Krida of the Great American Steamboat Company at a press conference at City Hall on Monday afternoon.
The American Queen will be docked at Beale Street Landing. At the press conference, Riverfront Development Corporation president Benny Lendermon said construction on the boat dock should be complete by the end of this year. The adjacent Beale Street Landing park project should be under construction by the time the American Queen sets off on its inaugural cruise on April 11th.
As part of an agreement with the Great American Steamboat Company, the city of Memphis will loan the company $9 million in federal funds. The project is expected to bring 589 jobs and an economic impact of $89.5 million.
Krida said riverboat cruise customers are primarily Americans over age 50 interested in Southern culture and cuisine and blues and rock history, making Memphis the ideal location for its headquarters.