Farewell to Delta Queen

It is the end of the line for one of America's prized river-going vessels. Majestic America Line announced on Thursday that the Delta Queen will cease operations beyond 2008. It was not the cruise line's doing, rather Congress, which will not renew the ship's exemption from a 1966 law prohibiting passenger vessels with wooden superstructures (a measure aimed at reducing fires), such as the 176-passenger Delta Queen steamboat, noted for its red paddlewheel and built in 1926. Congress had previously granted the boat six such exemptions. "We are incredibly disappointed by this decision," said Joe Ueberroth, president and CEO of Ambassadors International, which owns and operates Majestic America Line, "but we are grateful to those who worked tirelessly on behalf of the Delta Queen to preserve her place on the Mississippi River." Many in Congress lobbied on behalf of Majestic America to keep the Delta Queen afloat, to no avail. Seattle-based Majestic says the Delta Queen will sail 24 final cruises through November 2008, and that the line will dedicate the 2008 season to commemorating Delta Queen's 80 years of service. Agents with prospective guests are encouraged to book now. Visit [www.majesticamericaline.com] for more information.

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