Tuesday night (Sept. 11), the New Smyrna Beach council voted 3-2 in favor of pursuing a lease agreement with Wayne Heller which would provide him a space to dock the Delta Queen steamboat if it were relocated to Florida.

Heller still must receive approval from other regulatory entities and finalize the purchase of the vessel.

Stay tuned for more updates on the future of this National Historic Landmark and the last authentic overnight steam-powered paddlewheeler in American history.

Read the full text of the Daytona News-Journal article below.



Wayne Heller is to appear before the New Smyrna Beach council on September 11 to address concerns regarding his proposed purchase and relocation of the historic steamboat Delta Queen.

Many steamboat fans are hopeful that the historica boat will remain safely away from hurricanes and salt water and continue to reside at its current picturesque home in downtown Chattanooga, TN where it is lovingly cared for by Leah Ann and Randy Ingram and open as a hotel, restaurant, lounge, and event facility.

Read more info at the link below:


The City Commission members of New Smyrna Beach, Florida accepting input regarding the potential relocation of the Delta Queen. They meet to further discuss this matter on Tuesday, April 10, 2012.

Entrepreneurs Judy and Wayne Heller “have signed a letter of intent with a 30 to 45-day window to buy the 285-foot-long Delta Queen.” (Daytona Beach News Journal: March 28, 2012)

They hope to tow the 84-year-old National Historic Landmark by June 1 (Daytona Beach News Journal: March 27, 2012) to the Atlantic Ocean side of Florida to New Smyrna Beach, located south of Daytona Beach, where it would flank the Heller’s Riverview Hotel. This would remove the vessel from its current home along the Tennessee River in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee where it operates as a hotel, restaurant, lounge, special event facility and live entertainment venue. It’s removal would separate the historic vessel from the river system it has cruised since 1947.

“To make the venture a reality, Heller said he needs the city to sell him 5 acres at 120 N. Causeway where he would dock the boat. He would use the land for parking and possibly for a boardwalk.” (Daytona Beach News Journal: March 28, 2012)

Relocating the Delta Queen would require the fragile wooden vessel to endure a long ocean voyage to east Florida where the boat would float in salt water and be at risk of enduring hurricanes.

Additional concerns regarding the relocation arise from the contrast between the Delta Queen’s historical significance and Heller’s historic preservation record. The Orlando Sentinel (July 11, 2011) reported that in Winter Park, Florida “residents rallied to save the historic Casa Feliz home from demolition” after the Hellers “started razing the 1930s house that year to make way for a larger, more-updated home — until they were stopped almost immediately by the city amid protests from preservationists.”

The Casa Feliz mansion eventually was completely relocated. The nonprofit Friends of Casa Feliz was organized and $1.7 million was raised to move and restore the architectural treasure (which has been added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places) so that the land could be cleared to enable the Hellers to build their 27,000-square-foot mansion. (Orlando Sentinel: July 11, 2011)

If you have input you would like to share with city of New Smyrna Beach leaders regarding the plans to relocate the Delta Queen, contact:

City Commission, phone 386-424-2112
210 Sams Ave, New Smyra Beach, FL 32168

Mayor Adam Barringer:  abarringer@cityofnsb.com

Vice Mayor James Hathaway: jhathaway@cityofnsb.com

City Commissioner JS Grasty:  jgrasty@cityofnsb.com

Commissioner Lynne Plaskett: lplaskett@cityofnsb.com

City Commissioner Judy Reiker: jreiker@cityofnsb.com

Read the full articles cited above here:

Innkeeper wants to tow riverboat hotel to New Smyrna Beach
Daytona Beach News Journal (March 27, 2012)

New Smyrna Beach leaders interested in riverboat hotel proposal
Daytona Beach News Journal, March 28, 2012

Mega-mansion emerges where historic Casa Feliz once stood
Orlando Sentinel, July 11, 2011

New Year's Eve on the Delta Queen

Wow! We had such an amazing weekend performing aboard the Delta Queen for New Year’s Eve weekend. The Delta Queen team was at the top of their game for the huge boat-wide New Year’s Eve party. Special kudos to Hotel Manager Lloyd, Chef Joyce, and of course operators Leah Ann and Randy Ingram.
The New Year’s Eve event was marketed as a private event package including hotel stay, DJ and dancing down in the Orleans Room, Laura and I having a blast with the crowd in the Texas Lounge, and Joyce’s amazing food stations scattered downstairs, all along the Forward Cabin Lounge, and up in the Texas Lounge. What an amazing buffet!
Thanks so much to the wonderful guests that supported the Delta Queen by ringing in 2012 with us. We had so much fun with you and look forward to the next time we can all enjoy an evening together aboard the legendary Delta Queen.

Xanterra Parks & Resorts has completed the purchase the assets of bankrupt Ambassadors International, Inc. This includes the Delta Queen. For at least the foreseen future, this will not affect of the charter lease operation of The Delta Queen Hotel in Chattanooga, Tennessee. With her long-term future uncertain, I encourage you to experience the Delta Queen while you can. Visit www.DeltaQueenHotel.com for more information and reservations.

To read more about Xanterra’s acquisition, click here or click here.

Laura and I have had such a great time performing on the Delta Queen for all the holiday parties, events, and festivities since Thanksgiving. What a wonderful place to spend a holiday getaway. Put it on your calendar for next year. The boat was decorated beautifully, and with all the poinsettias along the Grand Staircase, we thought it would make a perfect holiday card photo (see below). We hope to be back on the boat soon, but until then we wish you all the best and a very Happy Holiday.

A nice letter of support for the Delta Queen remaining in Chattanooga was written by R.J. Johnson and published by the Chattanoogan:

Chattanooga Can Help Save The Delta Queen
posted October 24, 2010

A city that can build an aquarium, save a century-old bridge, and restore a deserted downtown and riverfront to the level of global recognition, can surely save a riverboat.

I understand the Delta Queen is priced at $4.75 million, which is a lot of money, but it’s only a pittance to what Chattanoogans have raised before. When you consider the accomplishments of the last two decades, this should be chump change to us.

A shimmering jewel of history is in our midst, and we have one chance to permanently rescue this world-renowned vessel.

Thank you to Leah Ann and Randy Ingram, current operators of the Delta Queen Hotel, for your vision in establishing the Delta Queen Preservation Foundation. I hope Chattanoogans will support this effort, including the “Rally on the River” fundraiser on Tuesday, Nov. 4.

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