We attended a gathering aboard the Delta Queen which included an exciting update from Cornell Martin (former Delta Queen Steamboat Company executive working to return the boat to cruising): The Congressional bill that would help open the door to the Delta Queen possibly cruising again is scheduled to be voted on by the House on Wednesday!

This is, of course the first step of many, but it is a step long waited for since the Delta Queen moored in Chattanooga in February 2008 to serve as a dockside hotel.
Former Delta Queen Captains Mike Williams and Gabe Chengary were also in attendance and shared inspiring words and lovely memories. Leah Ann and Randy Ingram shared the excitement. They are the current operators of the Delta Queen Hotel and leaders of the effort to return the vessel to cruising.
Track the Billy’s progress online here:
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We are so excited to announce that we will be performing aboard the Delta Queen in Chattanooga, TN the first and last weekends of October — on October 1, 2, and again Octtober 28, 29, 30, and 31. We’ll be performing each evening in the charming and historic Texas Lounge with incredible views of the Tennessee River and picturesque Chattanooga. We would love for you to come visit, stay aboard, and enjoy some music, magic and laughs with us for a fun weekend. Visit the Delta Queen Hotel website at

www.DeltaQueenHotel.com

Ambassadors International, Inc., the parent company owner of the Delta Queen, has filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy. At least for the foreseen future, this will not affect 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 the bankruptcy, click here.

Here’s a TV feature from the Fox station in Chattanooga about the pending sale of the Delta Queen:
Click here.

The Delta Queen opened last Friday just as the 10-day Riverbend Music Festival began directly across the river. The Fat Cat Ferry (also owned by Delta Queen Hotel partner Harry Phillips) docks adjacent to the Delta Queen and shuttles festival-goers across the river. So, we had lots of folks coming aboard to have a drink in the Texas Lounge on their way to the concerts.

Friday and Saturday nights were wild nights in the Texas Lounge. The folks at the bar were ready to have a good time, rowdy and fun. They pushed us the edges of our repertoire with an array of very diverse requests. I think the only one we couldn’t fulfill was a request for a song by Neil Young. I admit, my Neil Young repertoire equals zero. But we’ve had them singing along and Saturday night they were even up dancing. Those of you who’ve been in the Texas Lounge are familiar with the cozy atmosphere, so it was crazy!

Laura and I ended both nights drenched in sweat and exhausted. We felt like we’d run a marathon, but we also felt really proud in a way that we had at least finished the race! With the concert-going, party crowd, this has not been the regular crowd we’re used to in the Texas Lounge. We felt like if we could survive that and keep the crowd having fun, then we might not ever be nervous again!

The festival continues through this weekend, so we’re bracing ourselves for a few more wild nights in the Texas Lounge. If you’re in the Chattanooga area, come on down. I have a feeling it’s going to be very entertaining!

Phillip and Jo Ann

Phillip and Jo Ann

True Steamboaters Jo Ann Schoen and Phillip Johnson were onboard this weekend volunteering their help. Phillip got into all kinds of mechanical maintenance projects while Jo Ann focused mainly on asthetics. Both traveled with us onboard the boat earlier this year as volunteer workers during her historic journey from New Orleans to Chattanooga from February 4 – 11.

Phillip spent a lot of his time down below in the engineering spaces, so I didn’t get a shot of him in action, but Jo Ann was easy to catch as she focused on one of her specialties – polishing brass. And the Delta Queen never has any lack of brass needed to be polished! I think if you polished all the brass on the boat, by the time you finished it would be time to start again!

IMG_0664A hearty steamboat salute to these dedicated folks who have taken time out to come and work (and I mean work!) for long hours, just simply because they love the boat and want to be a part of her preservation. I am so thankful for so many folks like Jo Ann and Phillip that love the Delta Queen so deeply.

Vince Lombardi on the Delta Queen last year.

Vince Lombardi on the Delta Queen last year.

Last week, former Delta Queen crew members lost a cherished member of our crew family. Vince Lombardi served as a housekeeper onboard and was one of those really vibrant, funny, charming people who always brightened your day. Vince passed away last week and left a huge hole in the lives of many.

Laura and I were lucky enough to work closely with Vince last season, and even in the most stressful moments, Vince always could keep us laughing. He was a joy to be around.
We all send his family our heartfelt condolences on this terrible loss. You will be in our hearts and prayers. And Vince will often be fondly held in our memories.
Our private memorial for Vince, held in the Delta Queen's pilot house.

Our private memorial for Vince, held in the Delta Queen's pilot house.

Former passengers Jo Ann Schoen and Phillip Johnson were here on the Delta Queen this weekend and we all felt it would be appropriate to have a brief memorial in Vince’s honor. We met in the Pilot House to grieve and share memories of Vince. At 3pm EST on Sunday, we rang the big bell and blew a special steam whistle salute in his honor. We wanted to share it all with you, so we recorded the ceremony and Phillip kindly edited it into the following lovely tribute:

Vince was much loved by the passengers and the crew. He will be greatly missed.