House approval means Delta Queen closer to cruising again

ST. LOUIS — The storied Delta Queen riverboat appears headed for a return to cruising after a decade of forced retirement.

The U.S. House late Tuesday approved the Coast Guard Authorization Bill, which includes language einstating an exemption allowing the Delta Queen to return to service for the first time since 2008. The last remaining hurdle is the signature of President Donald Trump.

The Delta Queen Steamboat Co. says the 285-foot-long (87-meter-long) vessel will undergo an extensive renovation before beginning themed voyages on the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Cumberland, Kanawha and Arkansas rivers in 2020.

The Delta Queen was sidelined a decade ago by a federal law prohibiting overnight excursions on wooden vessels. The exemption approved Tuesday requires modifications of the wooden portions _ mostly cabins and public areas. The hull is already steel.

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