Three riverboats roll in on the river

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Vicksburg was visited Wednesday by three ladies.

“That’s a beautiful site, those three,” said Pablo Diaz, executive director of the Vicksburg-Warren Chamber of Commerce, as he looked out from the riverfront at the moored boats.

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The riverboats American Duchess, America and Queen of the Mississippi made simultaneous stops in Vicksburg as part of their respective tours of the Mississippi River, bringing about 475 visitors to the Red Carpet City for a daylong visit.

They were greeted by Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau guides, Rebecca Sigh of Vicksburg Main Street, and a flyover by two AT-6 trainers from the Southern Heritage Air Museum in Mound, La.

“This is the first time since the boats returned to Vicksburg in 2012 that we’ve had three boats here at the same time on the same day,” said Ashley Gatian, sales manager for the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We have three boats tentatively scheduled to arrive on the same day for several times in 2018.”

Vicksburg will also be a future stop for a new American Cruise Lines boat, American Song, a more modern vessel resembling an ocean cruise ship that will be wider, faster, and quieter than any other river cruise ship, according to a press release from American Cruise Lines.

The boat will begin touring the Mississippi River in fall 2018 before moving to the Pacific Coast in 2019.

During their visit to Vicksburg, Gatian said, the passengers from the boats took guided tours of the city and the Vicksburg National Military Park before returning to continue their trip either up or down river.

“The passengers from the Duchess will be doing a hop on, hop off tour, and will tour the military park in the afternoon,” she said.

Portland, Ore., residents Mike and Linda Wells were making their second visit to Vicksburg as passengers on the Duchess, which was headed south on the Mississippi from Memphis, Tenn., to New Orleans.

“We visited Vicksburg 17 years ago,” Mike Wells said as they waited to get on their tour bus. “We’re going to catch what we missed the first time. This (the cruise) is something we’ve wanted to do. It’s on our bucket list.”

Another Duchess passenger, Bess Avant Eastin, was also making a return trip to Vicksburg. A Starkville native, Eastin now divides her time between Maryland and Florida.

“I’ve been to Vicksburg a lot of times, but it was mostly passing through,” she said. “This time I’m going to see what I’ve missed.”

“I think this is great,” Diaz said as he watched the Queen of the Mississippi dock. “I think this is a glimpse of what’s to come as the interest in the Mississippi River and Vicksburg grows and riverboat companies learn more about the changes going on in Vicksburg and plan more stops here. We will be a greater attraction once the river walk is completed.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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