A Brief Overview of the Delta Queen’s Struggle to Survive

In 1966 as Congress passed a law that outlawed vessels with a wooden superstructure from carrying more than 50 overnight passengers. The law was originally intended for ocean-going cruise ships, but the Delta Queen – never far from the river banks – was ensnared in the regulation. Company official petitioned Congress and ultimately were granted an exemption from the regulation which has been periodically renewed for the past 42 years, often attached as an amendment to other bills. The current exemption expires November 1, 2008 and without Congressional renewal, the boat will be forced out of service.

From the Cincinnati Enquirer, Aug 17, 2007
“Last year, the House passed its Coast Guard bill with the exemption for the Delta Queen included, but the bill failed to pass the Senate, so lawmakers had to start over on the legislation this year.”

From the Kentucky Post, August 4, 2007
“Todd Lindgren, communications manager for U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, R-1st District, said the waiver for the Delta Queen had been attached to a Coast Guard re-authorization bill when the proposed legislation was sent to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. But when the bill emerged from the committee, the waiver for the boat had been deleted. Lindgren said the full House has not yet acted on the bill.”

Majestic America Line press release, August 1, 2007
“Majestic America Line…announced today that despite tremendous efforts by the company, many esteemed partners and thousands of previous guests, the U.S. Congress has decided that the Delta Queen should not continue operating on America’s rivers beyond 2008.”
Joe Ueberroth, President and CEO, Ambassadors International, which owns and operates Majestic America Line said in the statement, “We are incredibly disappointed by this decision, but we are extremely grateful to those who worked tirelessly on behalf of the Delta Queen to preserve her place on the Mississippi River.”

In 1970, the Delta Queen’s exemption was not passed by Congress until almost two months after the deadline had passed and the boat had been forced out of service. Many Delta Queen fans were shocked at the owners resignation a full 15 months before the deadline. Even legislative representatives were amazed:

Kentucky Post, August 4, 2007
[Todd Lindgren is the communications manager for U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot.]
“It’s still early in the process. It seems like it’s kind of premature,” Lindgren said of Majestic America’s announcement that it has, in effect, given up on its effort to secure the waiver.

But there is so much more to this struggle. Check back for more on the Delta Queen’s struggles in the next post. A comprehensive overview soon will be posted HERE.