Why did the Delta Queen retire in 2008 and why does it require legislation in the U.S. Congress to be passed for it to operate?

The Delta Queen, the last authentic overnight steamboat, was built in 1927.  As common with vessels of her type in the day, she was built with a steel hull (the part of the boat in the water), and a wooden superstructure (the white part above the hull).  The finest materials were used in her construction such as clear grain Oak, Teak, and Mahogany to name by skilled craftsman; which is indicated by her continued existence today.  The beautiful wood paneling and ornate stained glass and brass fixtures are what make the Delta Queen so unique and special today.

Following a law passed in 1966 known as the Safety At Sea Act, aimed at ocean going vessels, any passenger vessel carrying more than 50 passengers overnight has to be constructed of entirely non-combustible materials.  This meant the beautiful wood paneling and construction of the Delta Queen would be non-compliant with the new regulation.  Following a grassroots campaign by the Delta Queen’s owners at the time; Congress, realizing the impact this new regulation aimed at ocean going cruise ships had on vessels on the inland rivers, quickly passed an exemption for the Delta Queen which was never more than a few hundred yards from shore.

This exemption was renewed nine times over the next 40 years until it was allowed to expire in November 2008.  During the time many safety improvements were made to the Delta Queen including a state of the art fire detection and suppression system, including a sprinkler system with nearly 1200 sprinklers throughout every space on the vessel.

In 2015 the Delta Queen was purchased by her current owners with the intention of obtaining the necessary exemption from Congress and putting the vessel back into overnight passenger service.  Plans are in the works to make the vessel safer than she ever has been before with new boilers, generators, upgrades to her current fire protection systems, and specialized firefighting training for the entire crew.

In November 2018 the United States Congress passed the necessary legislation clearing the path for the Delta Queen’s eventual return to service.  The owners hope to have her ready for passengers in 2020.

When will the Delta Queen sail again?

With the passage of the necessary legislation to allow the Delta Queen to carry overnight passengers again occurring in November 2018, it is expected to take 12-18 months to complete all of the necessary engineering approvals and renovations required by the United States Coast Guard before the Delta Queen is ready to carry passengers again.  Please check the “Updates” section of this website by clicking HERE often to follow the progress!

Where Is The Delta Queen Now And When Will It Arrive In Kimmswick, MO?

The Delta Queen is currently docked in Louisiana where it is protected from the cold winters of the Midwest and where the necessary facilities are to perform the refurbishment work.  Once the refurbishment is completed, the Delta Queen will make her maiden call on the city of Kimmswick.

Where Can I Make Reservations To Cruise On The Delta Queen?

Unfortunately we will not be able to begin taking reservations for cruises on the Delta Queen until the necessary legislation (see above) is passed and signed into law.  Once signed into law it will be several months before an expected completion day can be identified and cruise itineraries be determined and offered for booking.  If you would like to be notified of updates and when reservations open, please register on this site by clicking HERE.

How Can I Be Notified When Reservations Are Open For Cruises?

We would be happy to record your information to make sure you are among the first notified once we are able to start taking reservations for the Delta Queen’s highly anticipated return to America’s inland rivers.  You may sign up to receive notifications regarding future reservations by clicking HERE.

Can I visit and tour the Delta Queen?

Unfortunately the Delta Queen is moored in a private shipyard and we cannot accept visitors for tours at this time.  Please check back on this site often for updates.  We look forward to being able to share this National Historic Landmark and National Treasure with everyone soon!

Does The Delta Queen Have A Wooden Hull?

Contrary to popular belief, the Delta Queen does NOT, nor has it ever had a wooden hull.  The hull (the area just above and below the water) has always been constructed of the finest steel materials available at the time.  When new in 1927 her hull was fabricated of triple galvanized steel in Dumbarton, Scotland at the Denny Bros. Shipyards before being crated and shipped to Stockton, California for final assembly.  After many year of faithful service and additional weight, the Delta Queen’s original hull was encased inside of an entirely new hull in 1991, again of the finest steel plate available at the time.  As a result, her hull today is in-fact a double steel hull, and in remarkable condition in that it is less than 30 years old.

Does The Delta Queen Offer Day Trips Or Dinner Cruises?

The Delta Queen is unique amongst most other riverboats you see today in that she is not considered a daytime “Excursion Boat” that would carry several hundred passengers, but rather a true overnight steamboat with luxurious accommodations for a much smaller passenger load of only 176 passengers.  As such the majority of the vessel consists of 88 staterooms and four public areas, adequately sized for her smaller passenger count.  Cruises on the Delta Queen historically lasted anywhere from three to fourteen nights.  Once returned to cruising, a similar variety of cruise schedules will be offered.