CINCINNATI -- The historic Delta Queen steamboat is a step closer to carrying passengers on overnight trips on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.
The U.S. Senate passed legislation that would grant an exemption to the 1966 Safety at Sea law, which prohibits wooden ships of a certain size -- such as the Delta Queen -- from carrying passengers on overnight trips. The exemption, which would last until 2028, was standard practice until 2008.
Both of Ohio's senators -- Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from northeast Ohio, and Rob Portman, a Republican from southwest Ohio -- praised their colleagues for passing the legislation. U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati, introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Delta Queen, registered as a National Historic Landmark, had functioned as a dockside hotel in Chattanooga from 2009 to 2015, after more than 60 years as an overnight cruise vessel, touring inland waterways throughout the country.
It's currently undergoing renovations in Houma, Louisiana, but was owned by a Cincinnati company from 1946 to 1985.
During its 60-year run as an overnight cruise, the Delta Queen was a fixture on the Ohio River and was owned by Cincinnati-based Greene Line Steamers since 1946. The steamboat was a common sight during the Tall Stacks festivals held every three or four years on Cincinnati's riverbanks, the boat's last port of registry.