Steamboat headed to dry dock; company bankrupt

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 3, 2002

Thomas Zentner, left, takes a picture of wife, Jean, middle and long-time friends Bobbie and Bob Boehm in front of the Delta Queen docked at City Front Wednesday.(The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

[01/03/02]Bob and Bobbie Boehm thought a cruise on the Delta Queen with family and friends would be a good way to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. So that’s what they did, and in a big way.

The Boehms were on the Delta Queen at City Front Wednesday with 26 family members and 16 friends.

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By coincidence, the Vancouver, British Columbia, couple and their party were on the historic Delta Queen’s last cruise of the 2001 season also a season that cast doubt on the famed steamboat’s future because its parent company, American Classic Voyages, filed for reorganization under bankruptcy laws in October.

Not related to the company’s financial position, the Delta Queen will go in dry dock for maintenance when it returns to New Orleans Friday. The new cruising schedule shows it returning to the Mississippi River in August.

Vicksburg will see a river steamboat before that, said Barney LaPrad, hotel manager for the Delta Queen, smallest and senior among the company’s three boats in the luxury cruise trade.

“The Mississippi Queen will be out May 7,” she said.

LaPrad said the Delta Queen had a full complement of passengers, 168 people, for this trip.

“It has been wonderful,” LaPrad said. “The passengers have been having a great time.

Bobbie Boehm said she and her husband first cruised on the Delta Queen in 1967 when the boat was based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“When it came time to celebrate our 50th anniversary, this just seemed like the thing to do,” she said.

She said the Queen’s crew has been wonderful to their entire party, especially their grandchildren. When the queen made its stop in Vicksburg, the youngest members of the Boehm party had blankets and pillows spread on the floor of the Forward Cabin Lounge and were enjoying hot chocolate.

“It has been very pleasant,” said Elmond Claridge of Houston, Texas, who was also a passenger on the Delta Queen. He was traveling with his friend Claire Patterson, also of Houston.

In an effort to assure the Delta Queen remain on the Mississippi, former employee Phyllis Dale has begun a campaign to drum up support. She has set up Web sites at and with sample letters supporters can send.

Those support letters should be sent to David Simmons, Delta Queen Steamboat Co., 1380 Port of New Orleans Place, New Orleans, La., 70130.