Mississippi cruises set to dock in Baton Rouge for first time in a year

BATON ROUGE — On Tuesday morning, the American Jazz, a river cruise ship, will dock in downtown Baton Rouge, becoming the first ship to bring passengers to the capital since the COVID-19 pandemic brought liners to a halt. cruising.

American Jazz is scheduled to dock at 7 a.m. Tuesday, and the American Duchess riverboat is scheduled for Saturday. Both ships will have fewer passengers amid coronavirus restrictions, but downtown business owners are happy to welcome them.

“It’s fun to deal with them,” said Fred Taylor of Poor Boy Lloyd’s. “I like picking on them and playing with them, and they enjoy that too.”

From March 2020 to the end of the year, 145 river cruise dockings were canceled in Baton Rouge, according to Visit Baton Rouge.

With many downtown employees still working from home, Taylor says passengers on these ships will provide a much-needed boost as they did before the pandemic took hold.

“Last year we had nothing,” Taylor said. “That’s just a plus. A cruise ship is [a] more. Everything we get from them is a plus.”

Taylor acknowledges that the past year has been difficult for the po’boy shop, but chooses to see the return of cruise liners as a step forward.

“We [are] let’s all try to catch up now,” Taylor said. ” Everybody [is] trying to catch up right now, and it’s important right now to have something positive.”

Including American Jazz and American Duchess, 100 river cruises are expected to stop in Baton Rouge in 2021. Tourism officials, like Paul Arrigo of Visit Baton Rouge, say this group of passengers spends at least dozens of thousands of dollars a year in museum and attraction tickets, meals and merchandise. They hope that these first ships to return will start to inject money into companies, which badly need it.

“At a time when we need it, in the places we need it,” Arrigo said, “Certainly attractions, museums and hotels have felt the pandemic as negatively as any other industry. attractions are big news.”

Ahead of American Jazz’s docking, Taylor is looking forward to teasing out-of-town guests again, but he’s also optimistic this will be the start of a return to normalcy for his iconic restaurant.

“We’ve missed parades, we’ve missed races, we’ve missed events here,” Taylor said, looking back on 2020. will come back. I don’t know.”

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