American Queen's mechanical problems nix Monday visit
HUNTINGTON -- After a successful visit Thursday, the world's largest riverboat, The American Queen, was to have made another festive full-day stop in Huntington on Monday.
However, that is a riverboat dream deferred, as the tour manager Gayle George for The American Queen called late Sunday evening to inform Huntington that mechanical problems on have caused the boat to cancel its appearance here.
"I am so sorry to advise you that the American Queen is experiencing mechanical issues and we have turned the boat around to go back to Maysville," George said in a note to the Cabell-Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Regrettably, we have to cancel our operations for tomorrow/Monday, June 30 in Huntington."
Tyson Compton, president of the Cabell-Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he understood but was saddened to hear the news following the rousing success of Thursday's visit.
"I fell asleep smiling," Compton said of Thursday, when throngs of people joined vendors, travelers and the Backyard Dixie Jazz Stompers down on the river. "It was truly amazing, and everything about it was great. Cara (Hedrick) and I talked to as many people as we could and they all had great things to say about Huntington. Several people said there was so much to see and do here, and they were all having fun and enjoying the attractions. They also had a lot of fun with our VIP tour guides. They loved those folks. As far as Monday, we are disappointed but hope we can get them back."
Thursday's stop was the big riverboat's first stop in Huntington since 2003.
Compton said that although the American Queen won't be stopping, that's not the last that Huntington will see of sternwheel boats this summer.
The Newport, Ky.-based BB Riverboats is sending its Belle of Cincinnati up the river for its annual summer cruise up and down the Ohio from July 24-July 31.
Stops along the way include Gallipolis, Ohio; Huntington; Portsmouth, Ohio; Maysville, Kentucky and Ashland.
The schedule for local cruises in the Tri-State are as follows:
July 26: Ashland Lunch Cruise, noon to 2 p.m. and a Dinner Cruise from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.
July 27: Huntington Brunch Cruise, noon to 2 p.m., a Sightseeing Cruise, 3:30 to 5 p.m. and a Dinner Cruise from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Prices for the Lunch/Brunch Cruises are $37 ($20 non-meal) and $22 for children ($11 non-meal). Prices for the Sightseeing Cruises are $20 and $11 and the dinner cruises are $45 ($24 non-meal) and $26 for children ($17 non-meal). Call 859-261-8500 for reservations or email at Info@bbriverboats.com.
Compton is also working on a deal with The Valley Gem Sternwheeler, based out of Marietta, Ohio, to run a full week of fall foliage tours during the last week of October.
"They are looking at bringing a sister operation here to Huntington," Compton said. "They want to do a trial run here to see how people respond to having a boat here. We will try and do special events and rides and rent it out for receptions and meetings, too. We hope this will lead to something great."
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