If you've been hearing calliope music downtown for the past few days, it's coming from the American Queen, a brand new riverboat that's docked for the first time at Beale St. Landing.
The ship, which is owned by the Memphis-based Great American Steamboat Company, is easily the fanciest thing on the Mississippi.
It seems a little unfair to call the American Queen just a boat – it's a full-on cruise ship. There's no gambling onboard, but there are plenty of other thinsg to do: there are six decks, lounges, bars, a movie theatre, an on-board shop, an athletic club, a pool and a live theatre.
The ship is really pretty – it's decorated in Victorian style with lots of plush upholstery, dark polished wood and floral prints. The Great American Steamboat Company is obviously aiming for an older, more affluent sort of tourist. There are tours with themes like "Music of the 1960s", "Springtime on the River" and "Epic Civil War".
The American Queen's home port will be in Memphis, but cruises will travel the Mississippi, Tennessee and Ohio rivers, stopping in places like Chattanooga, Louisville, New Orleans and Pittsburgh. As a bonus for Memphis, the tours are expected to have an $89 million annual impact on the Mid-South's economy, and the ship's crew employs mostly Memphians.
The American Queen's official christening is today at 3 p.m., and Priscilla Presley will be named the ship's official godmother. If you'd like to see the Queen, she'll be docked at Beale St. Landing until 6 p.m., when a cruise leaves for Louisville.
For more information and cruise tickets, check out the Great American Steamboat Company.