Three New Mississippi Riverboats – Ponant Names Its “Four Explorers” – Two More Cuba Sailings From Fathom

The Cruise Examiner for 19th September 2016


French America Line’s 150-berth Louisiane, due to enter service next month, is one of three new ships for the Mississippi.

This week we cover three new riverboats on the Mississippi, American Cruise Lines’ 195-berth America, French America Line’s 150-berth Louisiane and American Queen Steamboat Company’s 166-berth American Duchess, announced last week. Also announced last week were Explorer names for Ponant’s four 184-berth newbuildings: Le Bougainville, Le Champlain, Le Kerguelen and Le Lapérouse. Finally, earlier this month, Fathom announced two more Miami departures for Cuba with its 710-berth Adonia.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                                                            (See previous columns)

Boutique Riverboat Louisiane Makes Her Way Slowly South From Portland, Oregon, To Her New Home Port Of New Orleans

The tug Jack Brusco and her tow of the Louisiane head down the Columbia River to the open sea

Last Friday evening, June 24, saw the 347-ton ocean tug Jack Brusco pick up her tow of the 150-berth boutique river cruiser Louisiane, loaded and secured on board the deck of the semi-submersible barge Columbia Newark, which can also double as  a container barge.

The Louisiane was built in 2000 as Columbia Queen, the last riverboat to be built by the New Orleans-based Delta Queen Steamboat Company. Her new owner, the Great Northern & Southern Navigation Co LLC, trading as the French America Line, is also New Orleans-based.

In the scene above, she is shown leaving the Columbia River in the State of Washington to her new home in Gretna, Lousiana, part of the Port of New Orleans where French America Line will have its own dedicated terminal.

The Louisiane, ex-Columbia Queen, is loaded to the semi-submersible barge Columbia Newark

The 4,332-ton Louisiane has now passed San Francisco and is nearing San Luis Obispo on her way south along the long Mexican coast to Panama. Once she arrives at New Orleans in mid-July she will go to Bollinger Shipyards for drydocking and will then commence a major refit to convert her into a luxury boutique river cruiser.

The full tow can be followed by AIS on this link.

The Louisiane is due to enter service on September 30, 2016, with a Pullman train linking from Chicago for an Upper Mississippi cruise from St Louis, Missouri, to St Paul, Minnesota. More details of the 2016 season can be found here.

For a longer 14-night exclusive Cruiseco charter from New Orleans to Nashville in October there is at the moment an offer of half off for the second passenger. Further details of this offer can be found here.

For fares, availability and bookings please call The Cruise People Ltd in London on +44 (0)20 7723 2450 or e-mail

“Rhythms of the Deep South” – Fly Free – Exclusive Cruiseco Charter, New Orleans to Nashville on Louisiane 14 nights – October 26, 2016

LouisianeriverviewFLY FREE OFFER NOW AVAILABLE : Booking Dates: 12 April 2016 until 22 April 2016 
(Unless sold out prior)

“Rhythms of the Deep South” – Exclusive Cruiseco Charter – 
Cruise America’s Deep South from New Orleans to  Nashville aboard Louisiane : 14 nights – Octobern26 to November 9, 2016

Make a new booking on Cruiseco’s “Rhythms of the Deep South” Charter aboard Louisiane and receive FREE RETURN AIRFARES!

Be one of just 150 lucky guests to explore the Heartland of America cruising America’s Deep South in the comfort of the French-inspired luxury river boat Louisiane, which launches this August. Enjoy the finest of French cuisine, richly appointed staterooms with L’Occitane amenities and premium excursions throughout the itinerary.

LouisianePanoramaStateroomCruising from New Orleans, guests will visit Oak Valley, Natchez, Vicksburg, Memphis, Cape Girardeau, Paducah and Dover before arriving into Nashville.

Voyage Highlights include:
– Overnight port stay in Memphis with private after-hours visit to Graceland
– Music performances in New Orleans, Memphis and Nashville, home of jazz, the blues, rock & roll and country western
– Spectacular scenery along the Cumberland and Ohio Rivers
– Special reception at Dunleith, one of the grandest plantation manor houses in the USA

Fares from £4,660 per person twin share / £9,320 single

Bonus for passengers joining from the “Azamara Quest” Charter from Montreal.

Exclusive extras for Cruiseco’s Atlantic Seaboard of Canada & USA Charter Passengers who extend and add this exciting itinerary include:
– Day City Tour of New Orleans
– Transfer to Louisiane including baggage transfers from Azamara Quest to Louisiane 

Don’t miss out on this sensational FLY FREE offer – Available for a limited time only or until sold out!  

For further details please contact Giulia Marri at The Cruise People Ltd in London on +44 (0)20 7723 2450 or e-mail

The Louisiane: The “Ne Plus Ultra Of American River Cruising”


The 4,225-ton twin-screw 75-stateroom upmarket river cruiser Louisiane

“Intimate, exclusive and elegant” is what the brochures call it, the “ne plus ultra of American river cruising” is how its founder and chairman Christopher Kyte describes it. The newly-established French America Line will introduce the new boutique river cruiser Louisiane to America’s river cruising scene this August.

The 150-berth Louisiane will offer twenty departures between August and December this year, with an exciting choice of exclusive voyages on the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Cumberland and Red Rivers.

The new line’s founder began his career with San Francisco-based Matson Lines and eventually established his own travel business in 1990, when he founded Uncommon Journeys as a purveyor of upmarket rail and cruise holidays.

Using Cunard Line, Holland America Line, Amtrak and Via Rail Canada, as well as the Delta Queen Steamboat Company, Kyte built what is today a well-regarded operation that offers the best of rail and cruise holidays, usually in conjunction with each other. In 2012, Kyte helped bring the 360-berth sternwheeler American Queen out of lay up and back into service on the Mississippi River, in the process becoming the first president of the American Queen Steamboat Company.

French America Line ceo Ken Grigsby has also worked with Uncommon Journeys, for twenty-five years in his case, and had previous background in banking and hotels before becoming involved in Uncommon Journey’s first-class rail trips. London-based director Kevin Griffin founded The Cruise People in 1992.

Uncommon Journeys’ president Kevin Tam, meanwhile, another trusted hand, will act as general manager of the new river operator. His business is expected to supply about a quarter of French America Line’s passengers.

Outside investors include Sydney-based cruise specialist Cruiseco Pty Ltd, who have also taken a 14-night full ship charter of the Louisiane from New Orleans to Nashville between October 26 and November 9. Cruiseco has also been appointed exclusive general sales agent for the new line in Australia and New Zealand.

This cruise will tie in with Cruiseco’s exclusive charter of the 684-berth Azamara Quest, which is making a 32-night voyage from Montreal to New Orleans with nineteen ports and nine overnight stays. The Azamara Quest will leave Montreal on September 24 and passengers’ luggage will be transferred between their staterooms on the Quest and new accommodations on the Louisiane on Wednesday, October 26, as they explore New Orleans.

The 4,225-ton Louisiane was built by Leevac Shipyards in Jennings, Lousiana, in 2000 and completed by Cascade General shipyard in Portland, Oregon, who are very active today with cruise ship refits. The vessel, which has been laid up in Portland since 2008 was acquired by Xanterra Parks & Resorts, who took over the assets of previous operator Majestic America Line, in 2011. Xanterra is the parent company of Windstar Cruises, who now operate three tall ships plus three yacht-style ships acquired from Seabourn in 2014 and 2015, and decided to sell the Columbia Queen as the Louisiane was known, as surplus to their needs. Xanterra had already disposed of the 1926-built Delta Queen on the Mississippi.


The Veranda overlooks the Louisiane‘s stern decks and provides an alternate dining venue

Setting the Louisiane apart from the other American river ships are a complimentary one-night pre-cruise deluxe hotel stay in the embarkation city, with transfers on sailing day, complimentary custom shore excursions in every port, complimentary house wines, select beers, house-brand spirits, coffees, teas, soft drinks and purified water, free 24-hour room service and complimentary Wi-Fi wherever it is available.

The Lousiane will also offer the finest cuisine on America’s rivers, with Southern and Continental menus created by award-winning chef Regina Charboneau, who has worked with Christopher Kyte in the past. As well as a main dining room that doubles as a supper club, guests will be able to dine in the relaxed atmosphere of The Veranda, Louisiane’s complimentary alternative casual dining venue.

The on board ambiance will be casual but sophisticated, with a distinctive French flair. Guests will be able to sail waterways not accessible by larger vessels, and as well as an iPad in every stateroom and suite, will benefit from plush spa-quality bathrobes, slippers and a pillow menu.


This Panorama Stateroom is one of four that overlook the ship’s wake

To see the level at which the Louisiane is pitched, it is only necessary to look at the line’s branding agreements – with Hermes and L’Occitane en Provence for bath amenities, with New Orleans-based Café du Monde for beignets and café au lait, as well as boxed Ladurée macaroons from Paris as a welcome aboard gift and Vosges chocolates for turn-down service

Cruises will be divided into Sampler Cruise Tours (4 nights or less), Classic Cruise Tours (5 to 7 nights), Grand Cruise Tours (8 nights or more), and Collector’s Cruise Tours of varying lengths.

There are fifteen different itineraries on offer, with twenty departure dates in total – this is a snapshot of the available itineraries with Steling fares:

Sampler:  Frontier Fete – November 9 – 4 nights from Nashville return. Fares from £1,337 per person twin share.

Classic:  American Adventure – August 27 and September 4 – 7 nights from Pittsburgh to Louisville. Fares from £2,814 per person.

Grand:  Southern Spirit – December 30, 2016 ~ 9 nights from New Orleans to Memphis. Fares from £3,599 per person

Collector’s:  Red River Holiday ~ 8 nights from New Orleans return.
Fares from £3,138 per person.

This year the total number of North Americans taking European river cruisers is expected to exceed 500,000, representing a seven-fold increase since 2001. Even if Viking River Cruises add up to six proposed new 300-berth US-flag vessels starting in 2018, and with existing competition from the three boats operated by American Cruise Lines and American Queen, 14 million North Americans took a cruise last year. This should mean enough business for all lines on the Missisippi and its tributaries

For further details of the new French America Line please call The Cruise People Ltd in London on +44 (0)20 7723 2450 or e-mail

New American River Cruises by French America Line’s Louisiane

Authentic AmericaINTIMATE, EXCLUSIVE AND ELEGANT:  Introducing boutique river cruiser Louisiane’s exciting inaugural program, from August to December 2016.

We are proud to be able to introduce the new 150-berth river cruiser Louisiane, newest addition to Cruiseco’s highly successful and exclusive ‘Authentic’ product range. Operated by French America Line, this exciting inaugural program features 24 departures between August and December 2016, offering exclusive voyages on the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Cumberland and Red Rivers.

The Louisiane represents the best of all possible worlds and we invite you to experience river cruising in America as it’s never been done before!

What sets the Louisiane apart?Louisiane

– America’s only premium river cruise experience
– Complimentary one-night pre-cruise deluxe hotel stay in your embarkation city with transfers to the Louisiane on sailing day
– Complimentary custom-created shore excursions in every port of call
– Complimentary house wines, select beers, house-brand spirits, artisanal coffees, teas, soft drinks and purified water throughout your voyage
– Complimentary 24-hour room service (limited menu)
– Complimentary Wi-Fi (where available)
– The finest cuisine on America’s rivers featuring Southern and Continental menus created by award-winning Chef de Cuisine Regina Charboneau
– Savour a relaxed atmosphere in The Veranda, Louisiane’s complimentary alternative casual dining venue
– Casual but sophisticated onboard ambiance with a distinctive French flair
– Boutique cruise experience with only 75 staterooms and suites
– L’Occitane en Provence bath amenities
– Plush spa-quality bathrobes, slippers and pillow menu in every stateroom and suite
– Sail unique waterways not accessible by large vessels
– Inspiring on-board enrichment programs and talks by noted historians
– Unparalleled on-board entertainment celebrating the best of America
– Port charges and gratuities to the crew, local guides and drivers are included

Journeys for every desire are available on LouisianeSampler Cruise Tours (5 days or Less), Classic Cruise Tours (6 to 8 days), Grand Cruise Tours (9 days or more), and Collector’s Cruise Tours  (Varying Lengths)

There are 15 different itineraries on offer with 24 departure dates in total – here is just a snapshot of the available itineraries:

Sampler Cruise Tour:  Frontier Fete ~ 9 November 2016 ~ 4 nights from Nashville Return. Fares from £1,337 pp twin share

Classic Cruise Tour:  American Adventure ~ 27 August and 4 September 2016 ~ 7 nights from Pittsburgh to Louisville. Fares from £2,814 pp twin share

Grand Cruise Tour:  Southern Spirit ~ 12 August and 30 December 2016 ~ 9 nights from New Orleans to Memphis. Fares from £3,599 pp twin share

Collector’s Cruise Tour:  Red River Holiday ~ 8 nights from New Orleans Return.
Fares from £3,138 pp twin share

For all itineraries and departure dates please click here  

Let the river be your muse and carry you to the wonders of America and the vast blend of people, places and cuisine that define this great country.

For all itineraries, port details and further information on Louisiane please
click here for the electronic version of the new brochure

A copy of the Louisiane Fact Sheet click here

For further details please call The Cruise People Ltd in London on +44 (0)20 7723 2450 or email