cruises on the Mississippi River returning to Baton Rouge; see more details here | Company

After an absence of more than a year, Mississippi River cruises are back and will begin docking in Baton Rouge again this week.

American Cruise Lines is scheduled to stop in Baton Rouge on Tuesday with American Jazz. The ship, which was completed in 2020, left New Orleans on Sunday for a seven-night cruise to Memphis. On Saturday, American Queen Steamboat Co. will arrive in the morning with the American Duchess, a paddle wheel riverboat.

American Cruise Lines and American Queen halted travel at the start of the coronavirus pandemic; the last time either company visited Baton Rouge was March 11, 2020.

Two Mississippi River cruise lines with six ships making regular stops in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and St. Francisville are temporarily halting…

With the coronavirus vaccine increasingly available and people more willing to travel, the tourism industry is starting to come back.

Paul Arrigo, president and CEO of Visit Baton Rouge, said it would be great to see the Bateaux-Mouches passengers strolling around downtown and visiting other attractions again.

“It will be an opportunity for museums to generate revenue,” he said. “They felt the impact of COVID.”

Mary Durusau, director of museums at the Old State Capitol, said while cruise passengers aren’t a major source of revenue for the historic downtown attraction, they are welcome guests. Some cruises pay a flat rate for all of their passengers to visit the museum. “We love sharing Louisiana’s history with these visitors who literally come from all over the world,” she said.

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Cruise lines and tourism officials are taking steps to control the spread of the virus. American Cruise Lines voluntarily limits the number of passengers on its ships to 75% of capacity, said Alexa Paolella, a spokeswoman for the company. This will give each passenger approximately 450 square feet of space, allowing for socially distanced onboard activities. The Mardi Gras beads that Visit Baton Rouge usually give out to passengers on visiting cruise ships will be distributed in a socially distanced manner.

The river cruise business is something tourism and downtown officials have long emphasized. Passengers are typically affluent retirees, who spend an average of $128 at each stopover, according to 2019 figures from the Cruise Lines International Association.

The pandemic has caused the cancellation of 145 riverboat moorings in Baton Rouge. American Cruise Lines and American Queen are expected to have seven riverboats calling at Baton Rouge this year, making about 100 stops.

Arrigo said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the amount of tourism the town will see this year. January’s travel numbers were a bit ahead of projected numbers. “We have more meetings scheduled this year, a lot more sporting events,” he said.

The hope is that the Marucci World Series will return to Baton Rouge this summer, after being canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. The tournament features nearly 2,000 of the best baseball players under the age of 17 in the United States and Canada. Due to the size of the tournament, games are played at baseball parks throughout southern Louisiana including LSU’s Alex Box Stadium, Southern’s Lee-Hines Field, University of Louisiana’s ML Tigue Moore Field in Lafayette, Zachary High School and University High School.

“We’re excited to have some activity,” Arrigo said.

This story has been edited from its original publication to correct the spelling of Alexa Paolella’s name

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