MARIETTA - The arrival of a new "queen" in Marietta next month offers two more chances for the Pioneer City to make an impression on visitors.
The 150-passenger Queen of the Mississippi, a newly built sternwheeler modeled after the boats that regularly traversed the Mississippi and Ohio rivers in years gone by, is making Marietta a stop on a pair of early October cruises between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.
Jeri Knowlton, executive director of the Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said being on the itinerary is "fabulous for Marietta."
Photo courtesy of American Cruise Lines
The Queen of the Mississippi, a new paddlewheeler completed earlier this year, is shown in this photo provided by American Cruise Lines. The boat will be stopping in Marietta Oct. 3 and 7.
Studies have shown "a good 40 percent of the people" who visit Marietta return, Knowlton said. The city got a good response when the American Queen came through this summer, its first stops in the area in four years.
"There were many people from the Cincinnati area who had never been to Marietta and, believe it or not, never even heard of Marietta," she said.
Britt Rabinovici, public relations manager for American Cruise Lines, which owns the new boat, said the cruise line will recommend tours to its passengers, but they'll be free to explore whatever they like in Marietta. She did not have a list of recommended destinations immediately available, but the website mentions the Campus Martius and Ohio River museums as well as Fenton Art Glass in Williamstown.
According to a release on the company's website, www.americancruiselines.com, construction of the Queen of the Mississippi was completed in June, making it the "first new, authentic paddlewheeler built for the Mississippi River in nearly 20 years."
"From the outside, it's really that traditional-looking riverboat," Rabinovici said.
But inside, the boat is filled with modern amenities, including hotel-style bathrooms, access to room service, in-room phones, Wi-Fi and satellite TV.
It's also smaller than traditional riverboats like the American Queen. While the American Queen is more than 400 feet long and carries 436 passengers, the Queen of the Mississippi measures less than 300 feet in length and carries 150.
Knowlton noted the new boat's visit will be a little different from the American Queen's in July. Whereas that vessel arrived at the Ohio River Levee in the morning and left in the early evening, the October stops will be from 7 a.m. to noon, Oct. 3, and from the evening of Sunday, Oct. 7, until noon the next day.
Visits by the American Queen, Delta Queen and Mississippi Queen were relatively common prior to 2008, but all three boats have since been taken out of service. Many area residents liked to go down to the levee to see the boats, even as the passengers ventured into Marietta.
The American Queen was purchased by the Great American Steamboat Company from the U.S. Maritime Administration and put back on the water earlier this year. Prior to that, American Cruise Lines announced in 2010 that Marietta would be on the schedule for its new boat.