American Queen buys riverboat for Pacific Northwest cruises

American Queen buys riverboat for Pacific Northwest cruises

By Jerry Limone

Partnering in preservation

American Queen Steamboat Co. has formed a partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit based in Washington. 

Beginning June 30, the American Queen Steamboat Co. will donate $5 to the National Trust for every booking, in support of the campaign to protect National Treasure sites along the Mississippi River and in the Pacific Northwest.

Through the partnership, American Queen Steamboat Co. and the National Trust for Historic Preservation aim to “help tell the stories about important historical places along the travels of the ship,” said Terry Richey, chief marketing officer for the National Trust.

Passengers will have the opportunity to visit three National Treasures sites on their cruise: the Mississippi Delta Heritage area, Willamette Falls in Oregon and the Manhattan Project in Hanford, Wash.

The American Queen Steamboat Co. has purchased the Empress of the North, a riverboat that last sailed for the defunct Majestic America Line in 2008, from the U.S. Maritime Administration for an undisclosed price.

The 223-passenger paddlewheeler will be renovated and renamed the American Empress. The crew will comprise 80 hotel staff and 17 deck staff, all locally hired in the Pacific Northwest region. 

As it did when the riverboat was last in service, the American Empress will sail Pacific Northwest cruises, plying the Columbia and Snake rivers, starting next April.

“We are looking at the region [the American Empress] draws from,” said Ted Sykes, president and COO of American Queen Steamboat Co. “We’ve had a lot of people on the American Queen say, ‘Give us some more geography.’ The repeat customer knows of the luxury on the American Queen, and now they want that luxury somewhere else.”

Cruises will sail between Portland, Ore., and Clarkston, Wash. Ports of call include Astoria, Wash.; Stevenson, Wash.; The Dalles, Ore.; Umatilla, Ore.; and Richland, Wash. 

The American Queen Steamboat Co. revived Mississippi River cruising last year with the American Queen, another former Majestic America Line riverboat.

“The American Queen has ushered in a rebirth of U.S. river cruising, welcoming thousands to discover the heartland of the United States and its iconic port cities,” stated Sykes. “Now the American Empress will continue that tradition as an ambassador to the Pacific Northwest, a region equally rich in American and natural history.”

Sykes said the American Empress will be ready to take online bookings by the end of the week.

Tui places £4bn order for new-generation B737s

Tui places £4bn order for new-generation B737s

By Lee Hayhurst

Tui places £4bn order for new-generation B737sTui Travel has today unveiled a multi billion-pound investment in new-generation aircraft.

Europe’s largest travel group is to order 60 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft worth £4 billion with options on a further 90 of the narrow-body type.

Deliveries will start in January 2018 and run until March 2023.

The 737 MAX aircraft utilises a new-technology engine type claimed to result in a 13% improvement in fuel efficiency and a 40% reduction in noise over today’s main competitors.

The new 737s will provide lower per seat costs than current-generation aircraft, according to Tui.

Around 80% of the group’s passenger flew on 114 narrow-body aircraft across six airline brands including Thomson Airways in the last financial year.

“In order to maintain cost competitiveness and support Tui Travel’s aim to minimise the environmental impact of its activities, the existing narrow-body aircraft will need to be replaced in the next decade,” the company said.

“The proposed transaction will ensure that the group has sufficient aircraft to fulfil its long-term plans and that the expected accrued value justifies the cost of the purchase.”

Chief executive Peter Long said: “A major part of Tui Travel’s strategy is to provide our customers with unique holiday experiences they can only get from us.

“This multi billion-pound investment in the B737 MAX – representing the future generation of more fuel-efficient aircraft for our short and medium-haul programmes – will be a further driver in delivering this.

“It comes as the first of our Boeing 787s touches down in the UK to commence replacement of our long-haul fleet with best-in-class aircraft.

“We are leading the way in redefining mainstream holidays, and putting our customers at the heart of everything we do is integral to our continued growth.

“I can confidently say that being able to offer our customers the most advanced, comfortable aircraft, whether they are travelling with us to short or long-haul destinations, while reducing our environmental impact, will only strengthen our position.”

Thomson Airways’ first Boeing 787 Dreamliner is due to arrive at Manchester airport this morning. It has flown from the Boeing Everett Factory in Seattle and will be followed with the delivery of a further three Thomson 787 aircraft this summer.

View a timelapse video of Tui’s Dreamliner production

Thomson will fly the aircraft from Gatwick, Manchester, East Midlands and Glasgow airports on long-haul routes to Sanford, Florida and Cancun in Mexico.

Chris Browne, managing director of Thomson Airways, said: “After much anticipation we are very excited to welcome the 787 Dreamliner to our fleet, and as the first airline in the UK to take delivery we hope our customers will enjoy the unique experience of this revolutionary aircraft.

“The introduction of the Dreamliner is a major milestone in our journey of modernising the holiday experience. Customers will be amazed at the unique look, feel and service – all of which will ensure the unique Thomson holiday experience starts as soon as they step on board this fabulous new aircraft.

“The extended flying range of the Dreamliner also unlocks a host of new and exciting holiday options for our customers, increasing the range of long-haul destinations available with Thomson Airways, from four UK airports this summer.

“This winter we’ll fly the Dreamliner direct to Phuket in Thailand and from summer 2014 we will be introducing holidays to Mauritius and Puerto Vallarta, flying direct on our new 787 aircraft.”

The Thomson 787 Dreamliner will carry 291 passengers.

Thomson Airways will be taking delivery of eight Boeing 787 Dreamliners in total, up to May 2015.

Royal Caribbean orders third Quantum ship

Royal Caribbean orders third Quantum ship

By Tom Stieghorst
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. said it signed a contract for a third 4,180-passenger Quantum-class ship to be delivered in 2016.

The price and terms for the unnamed ship are similar to the first two Quantum ships, Royal Caribbean said. The ship will be built at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany.

The stateroom configuration will include a greater proportion of higher-priced cabins than the other two Quantum-class ships. It will also “achieve some of the greatest energy efficiencies at sea,” Royal Caribbean said.

The order will put Royal Caribbean’s annual growth in capacity at about 4% between 2012 and 2017.

The first ship in the class, Quantum of the Seas, is scheduled for delivery next year with Anthem of the Seas to follow in 2015.