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Riverboat steams into Yacht Basin

The Delta Queen steamed its way to the Yacht Basin in Demopolis Tuesday, its majestic DQ smokestack raising eyebrows locally as its passengers debarked to enjoy the day before setting sail again at 5 p.m.

The Demopolis Chamber of Commerce hosted approximately 75 of the 175 passengers, taking them on tours of the city and providing shuttle service to the town’s numerous shops.

“We took them on a tour of the city, to places like Gaineswood and Bluff Hall, and we provided shuttles for them to local stores,” Kelley Smith, events and tourism coordinator for the chamber, said. “A lot of them wanted to look at antiques and other things. I hope the merchants here did well, I think they did.”

Smith said the townsfolk probably saw many of the passengers, many of whom had brought bicycles with them and toured the town on their own set of wheels.

“You couldn’t miss them, they were everywhere,” she said. “Some of them even biked out to WalMart.”

This was the Delta Queen’s first stop in Demopolis in three years, but, Smith said, it won’t be three years before the ship lands here again.

“We’re going to do this again next year, and we’re hoping to make it a yearly thing,” she said. “I talked with a lot of the passengers and got a lot of ideas about activities and things we can do next year to make it better.”

Her majesty left Cincinnati, Ohio, Aug. 4 on a 45-day cruise through the southern states to the Gulf Coast, across the intercoastal waterway from Mobile to New Orleans, and up the Mississippi River to St. Louis.

“(Passengers) are really a lot of interesting people,” Smith said. “They ranged from the retired couple who are staying for the entire 45 days to a lady I met who works really hard all year long except for the 10 days she’s taking for part of this trip.”

The Delta Queen offers various packages ranging from as few as three days to the entire 45 days.

As if its mere presence wasn’t enough, the Delta Queen left one more lasting memory for those close enough to hear – Smith said the boat was equipped with a steam-powered musical instrument akin to a pipe organ, and played golden oldies like Suwannee River as it pulled away.

“I can still hear it now,” Smith said as she left the Yacht Basin, despite the fact the ship had left several minutes before. “If you heard music, that’s what it was.”