A new paddlewheel riverboat is ready to ride the Mississippi.
A new paddlewheel riverboat is ready to ride the Mississippi.
The new paddlewheel riverboat is ready to ride the Mississippi, set to begin taking tourists on excursions around New Orleans starting in late January. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
The new paddlewheel riverboat is ready to ride the Mississippi, set to begin taking tourists on excursions around New Orleans starting in late January. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Matt Dow, project manager for the restoration of the "City of New Orleans" riverboat, plays the calliope on the vessel in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Matt Dow, project manager for the restoration of the "City of New Orleans" riverboat, plays the calliope on the vessel in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

New Orleans — A new paddlewheel riverboat is ready to ride the Mississippi, set to begin taking tourists on excursions around New Orleans starting in late January.

The City of New Orleans will be the third paddlewheeler to call this Southern city of Mardi Gras fame its home.

The New Orleans Steamboat Company owns it as well as another boat — the Natchez — and says the addition of a new riverboat is a sign that visitors are coming back in force since the tourist economy took a hit when Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.

A century ago, countless paddlewheel riverboats plied the Mississippi and its tributaries. Now the City of New Orleans is coming full circle, back to Louisiana where it was built in 1991 before spending years of service as a casino boat in Rock Island, Illinois.

Associated Press