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More Cruise Ships to Dock in Fort Madison in 2019

The "America" riverboat is one of the ships that will dock in Fort Madison this fall.

The cruise ships that will be docking in Fort Madison will bring even more tourists to the city than originally anticipated.

Fort Madison is now one of the Mississippi River stops for American Cruise Lines. The city and the business signed a 20-year lease this summer, with two options to extend the lease by 10 years.

The company originally told the city to expect ten ships docking along Riverview Park during the remainder of 2019. So City Manager David Varley said it was a pleasant surprise to see the 2019 late summer/fall schedule includes 14 stops from August 6 - October 16.

“We are glad so see them,” said Varley. “We are glad to see that they are excited about Fort Madison and that they have added more stops. It’s a lot of work, but we are going to make it where we are ready for them and enjoy it.”

Credit City of Fort Madison
The schedule for American Cruise Lines

Each ship will carry 150-200 passengers. They will be able to leave the ship during the Fort Madison stops, which will last between 6 hours and 8 ½ hours.

Varley said volunteers are working to clean the downtown ahead of the first stop on August 6. He said they are also forming welcoming parties and setting up activities and local tours.

Fort Madison must upgrade its dock before that first stop. Varley said the work is progressing on schedule as crews are preparing to run a water line to the dock and to work on the electricity on-site.

Varley said the company plans to make as many as 30 annual stops in Fort Madison by the year 2021.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.