DAM Riverboat Co., LLC, will bring riverboat pleasure boating to the Little Rock-North Little Rock area following the North Little Rock City Council’s approval of a lease agreement on March 11.
Company spokeswoman Anita Ward presented aldermen with a Power Point presentation detailing what kinds of riverboats will be taking Central Arkansas water travelers on the Arkansas River.
Aldermen were told that the riverboats should be coming to North Little Rock sometime during the spring months.
Ward told aldermen one such vessel which can be expected to come to North Little Rock would be the Mark Twain Riverboat and Sandbar, which currently has been housed in the Port of Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Mark Twain is a 130-passenger U.S. Coast Guard license and inspected vessel. Another vessel that can be expected to be along the river docking in North Little Rock will be the Mark Twain Authentic Paddle Riverboat.
These vessels are propelled by paddle wheels.
The Mark Twain Riverboat has two deck excursions and is a dinner cruise vessel.
"It offers indoor seating for dining, social events and business meetings," Ward said.
The main deck includes restrooms, bar and gallery with full view windows along the port and starboard sides.
"The Mark Twain Riverboat’s observation deck is for sightseeing and relaxation," she said.
The boat can be used for private charters and will have music entertainment.
Other activities could also be school field trips, social events, group fundraising events and weddings.
"The list is endless," Ward said. "Our company is committed to providing a viable attraction any city would be proud to offer," Ward said. "We want to work with our riverfront neighbors to bring more exposure to those who often wonder what is behind that seawall."
The company also wants to provide joint ventures with other businesses throughout North Little Rock, she added.
Ward said the company wants to market its attraction in conjunction with the North Little Rock Advertising and Promotion Commission’s vision of local citizens being tourists in their hometown of North Little Rock.
According to the lease agreement, the company’s boat will dock on city-owned property on the northern bank of the Arkansas River at Riverfront Park.
"It is the purpose and intent of the city to maintain a maritime museum and lease portions of Riverfront Park designed herein, along with a Patriot towboat, to lessee as a qualified, experienced and responsible operator for operation of a lounge and private tour and excursion boat facility for the accommodation of the general public and private groups," states the lease.
The lease states that the company will agree to operate a river excursion boat of at least 125 passengers used for excursion and dinner cruises.
"The vessel is to be the Mark Twain, which currently is docked in Cincinnati, Ohio, and owned and operated by BandB Riverboat Company," states the lease.
The company will pay the city $500 per month for the space, according to the lease.
Ward explains how the company received its name.
"Our company consists of: Principal Owner, Dwayne Jones, Anita Ward, and Mark Hunter, hence the DAM Riverboat Co., LLC. I was previously the Senior Cruise Director/Boat Operation Manager for the Mississippi Riverboat Company d/b/a Arkansas Queen," Ward said.
In 2009, when the Arkansas Queen was put up for sale DAM Riverboat Company started working on replacing the Queen as there is a great deal of history stationed along the banks of the North and South Shores that can only be experienced, visually, while cruising the river, she said.
The Mark Twain Paddle Wheel will offer excursions up river toward Murray Lock and Dam No. 7 and on occasion offer cruises thru the lock and dam. Numerous cruises will be offered daily to include sightseeing and sunset cruises. Late night entertainment cruises will be offered on the weekends. Daily sightseeing cruises will travel up river to the Baring Cross Railroad Bridge, turn, then down river toward the Little Rock Port as most of this area provides guests the detailed river lore narration by the Captain of past history and present happenings in this central area, according to Ward.
"The boat will accommodate around 125 guests which will also provide large groups an opportunity to privately charter the Mark Twain for their business or social event," Ward added.
The Mark Twain will be docked at the city’s moored Patriot Wharf Boat, 100 Riverfront Park Drive in the Inland Maritime Park behind the seawall by the submarine.
"We will also operate a social lounge inside and out on the Patriot Wharf boat called the "Sandbar" on Riverfront. The Sandbar will afford guests the opportunity to lounge on the river before or after a cruise or even if the boat is out on a cruise.
"People love being on the water but are not afforded the opportunity to do so unless they own a pleasure craft. We want to draw more people to the river and therefore we will provide a variety of opportunities for the public by offering the Mark Twain for events dockside and/or cruise in conjunction with the Sandbar on the wharf boat. Both facilities provide indoor and outdoor seating, beverage service with a minimal offering of finger foods, snacks, as well as musical entertainment. Catered lunch or dinner will be offered for group events and on special occasions, such as holidays, for the general public," said Ward.
The Mark Twain is presently at the port of Cincinnati. Once the trek begins to North Little Rock, it will take 10 days, traveling down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, across the White River and up the Arkansas River to her new home, Ward said.
"At the present time she should arrive and be set for opening by the middle of May — just in time for Riverfest," Ward said.