I think residents of Pittsburgh take for granted some of the wonderful amenities in our city. I’ve always said there are so many things to do and places to go. Of course the love of Pittsburgh has to come from someone who feels positive about the city.


As the lifestyle editor for the New Pittsburgh Courier I get invites to a lot of events and I try to attend as many as possible. On May 29 I was invited as a member of the media to witness the official boat christening of the Three Rivers Queen, a beautiful 110 feet long and 32 feet wide, all-steel, classic, paddle wheel-style, passenger boat with three decks.

This was a perfect opportunity for me. The event was scheduled during my lunch break (day job) and I just needed to walk across the parking lot to get there. In addition to the proximity of the ceremony they were serving lunch. I’m in!

A symbol of Pittsburgh’s river renaissance, The Gateway Clipper Fleet has grown from a one boat, 100-passenger operation, sailing the three rivers, offering sightseeing tours, to a six-boat, 2,800-passenger fleet. The Clipper’s diversified operation runs throughout the year, offers dozens of unique cruises that appeal to all ages, employs 70 full-time employees and more than 300 seasonal ones.

The interior of the Queen is beautiful and elegant. I love the two-tiered floor and the brocade curtains. This is definitely a party boat. Floor to ceiling windows frame the main deck dining area. Overlooking the main deck is a mezzanine, an intimate dining salon with panoramic windows that highlight the beautiful, lighted paddlewheel of the Three Rivers Queen.  The second deck is fully enclosed with wall-to-wall carpeting, a dance floor, panoramic windows and a cocktail bar located near the bow of the vessel. Both glass-enclosed decks are open and unenclosed. The elevated wheelhouse is located towards the bow with all of the aft open for seating.

The Christening was a big deal, complete with balloons, confetti and the traditional breaking of the bottle of champagne by the ships godmother. Guests were then invited to tour the Queen and have lunch on a larger boat. The meal was delightful. Gateway Clipper Fleet president, Terry Wirginis says the fleet is the largest inland riverboat fleet in America today. “We are a model for the excursion boat industry who look to us for guidance and knowledge,” she said.

I’m sure so many of us have spent some time on at least one of the river boats, Kappa Boatrides, Que Boatrides, Alpha Boatrides, jazz cruises or maybe even a gospel cruise. I’ve even directed a wedding on one of the vessels. The fleet is a part of the Pittsburgh experience. The Clipper Fleet has been a key element in many city and county celebrations that showcase the beautiful river city of Pittsburgh. As one of marquee attractions in the City of Pittsburgh for the past 55 years, more than 25 million passengers have sailed the three rivers and beyond on one of the Fleet’s riverboats.

(Email the columnist at debbie­


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