Friday, September 10, 2010

CA: Overnight cruises on Mississippi River put on hold

By Wayne Risher, The Commmercial Appeal [link]
September 10, 2010
A cruise company's troubles have cast doubt on plans to bring overnight cruises on the Mississippi River back to Memphis next year.

The small-ship cruise line Cruise West announced it had suspended new bookings while the company is restructured.

Cruise West posted a statement on its website that said it would continue to operate its U.S. flagships through October, but it gave no information about future offerings.

It said company executives would not respond to questions from the media.

The shutdown came less than three months after the Seattle-based company said it would launch cruises on the Mississippi stopping in Memphis starting next March.

In June the company began accepting advance bookings for two seven-day itineraries for the 102-passenger Spirit of America: New Orleans to Memphis and Memphis to Nashville.

The New Orleans-Memphis cruise was touted as spotlighting plantations, mansions and Civil War sites of the iconic South. The Memphis-Nashville cruise was to focus on the music heritage of destination cities. Prices started at $3,499 a person.

Memphis hasn't had overnight cruises since the Delta Queen stopped running in October 2008.

The Memphis Riverfront Development Corp. has a new docking facility under construction at the foot of Beale Street, but it won't be completed until late next year.

Cruise West said the first step in its restructuring was terminating its "Voyages of the Great Explorers" cruise when the Spirit of Oceanus docked in St. John's, Newfoundland, on Wednesday.

"Additional assets may be sold and other steps are being pursued toward a restructure," the statement added.