May 7 2002
Delta Queen goes to hospitality company
Delaware North Companies, a privately held hospitality, retail and food services provider with annual sales of $1.6 billion, was the successful bidder for the assets and business of the Delta Queen Steamboat Company, including the Delta Queen, Mississippi Queen and American Queen steamboats.The three vessels are part of a river cruise business that serves overnight passengers and pays tribute to the era of the paddlewheel steamboat.
Delaware North Companies will acquire these vessels, and the Delta Queen Steamboat Company brand and business, following federal regulatory approval expected in the next 15 to 21 days.
The flagship Delta Queen, was built in 1926. In its long history, it served the United States in World War II, and in 1989, was designated as a National Historic Landmark.The Mississippi Queen was placed in service during the bicentennial in 1976 and the American Queen was placed in service in 1995.
The Delta Queen is 285 feet long and has 87 staterooms and capacity for 174 guests. The American Queen is 418 feet long with 222 staterooms and capacity for 436 guests. The Mississippi Queen is 382 feet long with 208 staterooms and capacity for 422 passengers.
"We certainly are excited about the purchase of this historic and unique business," said Dennis Szefel, President of Delaware North Companies Hospitality and Entertainment Group. "We look forward to bringing Delaware North's innovative and creative hospitality business approach to this new business line as we look to enhance and grow these operations in the future."
Delaware North Companies plans to keep the steamboats' base of operations in New Orleans, along with its reservation and sales center. In addition, the company plans to interview and retain the majority of the operation's employees.
"We were very impressed with the local management and talent," added Szefel. "Our hope is that we can preserve this operation's most valuable resource -- its employees. Their knowledge of the rivers and the company's history, along with the exceptional skill it takes to operate these vessels, is incredibly important to the ongoing success of these operations."
Delaware North's portfolio includes some of the most unique hotels, resorts and conference centers in the United States, including hotels in Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks and Asilomar Conference Grounds in California, Deer Creek Resort and Conference Center in Ohio, The Grand Hotel near the Grand Canyon, and Roaring River Inn and Conference Center in Missouri's Ozark Mountains.