GODMOTHER CITY: Natchez welcomes, baptizes American Symphony
Posted at 5:27 p.m. on Tuesday, August 30, 2022
NATCHEZ — On Tuesday, Natchez welcomed a new ship to its harbor as the patron city of American Cruise Line’s newest ship, the American Symphony.
Additionally, by 2025, American Cruise Line CEO Charles Robertson said he plans to name Natchez the home port of the American Symphony.
Next spring, Robertson said American Cruise Lines also plans to introduce a new ship to the Port of Vidalia, Louisiana.
“Be careful of New Orleans. Pay attention to Memphis,” Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson said, pointing to the metaphorical change in tide for the number of ships that would dock at Natchez and Vidalia. “With our commercial air service coming soon, they will come here to catch the boat.”
American Symphony is the fifth riverboat in American Cruise Line’s new river cruise series and the 15th small ship Chesapeake has built for the company, Robertson said.
The 175-passenger boat joined the company’s expanding Mississippi River fleet on its maiden voyage from New Orleans to Natchez for its christening on Tuesday. Performing the ceremonial breaking of a champagne bottle above the bow was Miss USA 2020 and Mississippi native Asya Branch.
In 2023, the company plans to introduce three more small vessels: another modern riverboat, the American Serenade, as well as two 109-passenger catamaran hybrid vessels, the American Eagle and the American Glory.
“This is a huge economic development opportunity for us,” Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann said. “But the most important thing is that it will bring people to see our people and when they do, they will bring theirs back to see us again. Congratulations to all of you, we are so proud to see the launch of the American Symphony here and if all goes well we will soon have the bridge lit up so you can find your way home as well.
Gibson welcomed several guests to Tuesday’s festivities, including Dickie Brennan, Hayes Dent, Marjorie Feltus Hawkins and the rest of the Eola Hotel development team.
Brennan, a New Orleans restaurateur, said he first met Gibson on a river cruise a few years prior and has returned often since because they have become good friends.
“I love Natchez and have been coming here for years,” he said, recalling a time when he cooked at Eola for a fundraiser in the mid-1990s.
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves also joined the celebration via recorded video, who said, “Natchez has one of the fastest growing economies in Mississippi.
“In 2021 alone, visitors spent nearly $100 million, generating $1.5 million in tourism tax revenue, over $10 million in state and local taxes, and 1,400 jobs. said Reeves of Natchez. “Becoming a home port plays a huge role in bringing commercial air service back to Natchez and provides us with additional opportunities to strengthen our hospitality sector. That’s why I’m also thrilled to hear that by 2025 the American Symphony plans to call the port of Natchez and in turn bring more people to visit the state we all know and love .
While acknowledging all the stakeholders who contributed to Tuesday’s festivities, Gibson also gave thanks to God.
“What is happening at Natchez is truly miraculous. We call it the Natchez Renewal. It’s a Natchez revival. Deep in my heart, I know it’s because we put him first and he blesses our city in ways we never imagined,” he said.