French America Line, City Of Gretna To Launch Riverboat ‘Louisiane’ Thursday
GRETNA, LA – French America Line’s deluxe 150-passenger vessel, the Louisiane, will make its inaugural launch on Thursday, Oct. 20, at #1 Huey P. Long Ave., the former Ferry Terminal at the Mississippi River near Gretna City Hall, at 10:00 a.m., before an array of local dignitaries and elected officials.
Commencing with the first roundtrip voyage on Saturday, Oct. 22, each year, thousands of passengers will board the Louisiane from FAL’s exclusive departure terminal in Gretna, after enjoying an included deluxe luxury hotel stay the previous night in the French Quarter sampling the history, culture, and food of the Crescent City.
With the launch of the Louisiane, French America Line becomes the only operating cruiseline to call the metro New Orleans area its corporate HQ. Thanks to a partnership with the Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission (JEDCO), the City of Gretna, the USDA, the Joseph & Arlene Meraux Charitable Foundation, and a group of prominent local investors, 26 departures per year will leave from Gretna’s “Quai Louisiane”.
French America Line offers 5-to 16-day cruises on the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Cumberland and Red Rivers, with stops at major U.S. cities along the way, as well as trips on the Arkansas and Illinois Rivers where large riverboats cannot navigate.
In just the next two months alone, the Louisiane will travel round-trip to Memphis, Nashville, and, in the second week of December, will even make a stop in Natchitoches, LA, in time for the famed Christmas “Festival of Lights.” With additional stops in Alexandria, Baton Rouge and Oak Alley, FAL is the only cruiseline to offer a river trip exclusively inside of the State of Louisiana.
Additional ports traveled in 2016 will include, Greenville, Natchez and Vicksburg, MS, New Madrid, MO, Louisville and Paducah, KY, and Memphis, Nashville, Clarksville and Dover, TN. In 2017, the Louisiane will travel as far north as St. Paul, MN and Pittsburg, PA watching the changing of the leaves, and the beauties and historical sites of the Upper Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, stopping at the picturesque communities along the way.
Pricing is all inclusive, including the luxury hotel stay, all meals, 24-hr. room service, hand-selected house beverages, wine, been, spirits, nightly entertainment, informative cultural and historical talks, memorable Traveler Collection shore excursions in every port of call (included in the tariff) as well as pre-and-post cruise excursions.
The Louisiane, formerly the Columbia Queen that sailed Oregon’s Columbia River, was purchased by French America Line owners Christopher Kyte, Ken Grigsby, Kevin Griffin, and Christopher Tidmore in 2015 with the intention of relocating it to Jefferson Parish. More than 80 local jobs will be created on-shore and on-board, with long-term economic impact to the region estimated in the tens of millions.
“The arrival of French America Line and the ‘Louisiane’ in Jefferson Parish is a fulfillment of a three-year project to restore the region as a headquarters for a proudly American owned riverboat company operating deluxe voyages on America’s Waterways,” said Christopher Kyte, French America Line Chairman. “Greater New Orleans as a destination embodies the concept behind French America Line, to engage guess with explorations of the rich heritage of distinct places along U.S. waterways that were once part of French America at the time of the country’s colonization. The area’s diverse array of French, Cajun, Creole, Acadian and other cultural traditions that can be experienced through food, music, art, architecture, and more, as well as its prime location on the Mississippi—with a strong riverboat history—make Gretna the perfect home setting for the French America Line.”
“We are also delighted to be creating local jobs along with the significant impact of local purchasing, everything from groceries to flowers to fuel,” Kyte continued. “We are hugely grateful to the far-sighted leadership at JEDCO, the Meraux Foundation, Mayor Belinda Constant & the City Council of Gretna, and former Jeff President John Young–without any of whom this project would not have happened.”
The Louisiane will sail from the former Gretna Ferry Terminal, renamed “Quai Louisiane.” It will be the only exclusive Riverboat cruise terminal in the US, yet it also remains a priority to both FAL and the City of Gretna that ferry service will one day return. A portion of the revenue generated from French America Line’s operations will be exclusively reserved for the restoration of permanent water transit-ferry service between the Downtown Gretna and New Orleans’ Canal Street.
“This is a major economic development opportunity for the City of Gretna,” said Gretna Mayor Belinda Constant. “This project will bring quality jobs with benefits to our residents, and complements our vision to continue making Gretna a destination within the Greater New Orleans Region. Additionally, the project will support our recently released Gretna Downtown 2020 plan and serve as a driver for promoting our riverfront and future water-transit options.”
“We are excited to welcome French America Line to Jefferson Parish,” said Jerry Bologna, JEDCO President & CEO. “Not only will French America Line bring the Gretna Ferry Landing back into use, but they will also hire and purchase supplies and commodities locally. We look forward to the increase in tourism this company will bring to the West Bank along with the direct and indirect impact French America Line will have on our community. JEDCO will remain a long-term partner to aid French America Line in its future successes.”
JEDCO provided site selection and incentive assistance to the company while also interfacing with the City of Gretna to reach an agreement on the use of the dormant ferry terminal. JEDCO also financed a portion of the project to aid in the vessel’s relocation from Oregon to Gretna.”
Special packages are available for metro New Orleans residents, including individual transport directly from one’s home to board local departures of the Louisiane. A full schedule of 2016 and 2017 voyages (along with their itineraries) can be found online here.