A luxury yacht is making its debut voyage Sunday and will likely be cruising up and down the Missouri River on public trips by early November.
As part of its plans to build a $125 million national wine and tourism destination in the Augusta area, the Hoffmann Family of Companies is launching Miss Augusta. The 105-foot Skipperliner yacht will be based out of Klondike Park in Augusta, where the company is building a dock. The boat will feature three decks, dining and two bars and will offer public and private cruises.
Jenny Gazella, who heads the Hoffmann Family of Companies’ cruise operations in Naples, Florida, is helping launch Miss Augusta. She said cruises will begin in St. Charles in early November, and in the spring, when the dock in Augusta is complete, the company will move its cruise base there. She anticipates online booking will open next week at www.missaugustaboat.com.
Miss Augusta’s launch Sunday will not be open to the public, Gazella said. However, the press, local officials and others will be invited to attend the event, which is going to be held in a private marina.
“Sunday is our christening where Mr. Hoffmann will pop a bottle of champagne and commence the maiden voyage,” she said.
The event will take place at the Yacht Club of St. Louis in St. Charles. At 1 p.m., the grand christening will begin. At 1:30 p.m., the boat will set off on the river.
Soon after that, cruises will be open to the public, Gazella said. “We always like to say the best events are on the water,” she said. “And unless you have a boat of your own, there is no way to do that and get those amazing opportunities.”
Gazella said there will be daily public cruises up and down the river, and the boat will be available for private events and weddings. The boat will not make any stops outside of Augusta on public cruises, she said.
“It’s a beautiful boat,” she said. “It’s just stunning.”
The cruise ship is part of the owners’ bigger vision for the region. Washington natives David and Jerri Hoffmann have purchased more than two dozen properties in the Augusta area, including four wineries — Montelle Winery, Augusta Winery, Mount Pleasant Estates and Balducci Vineyards — and several businesses, including the Augusta Emporium general store and Kickstand Augusta bike shop. The Hoffmanns also plan to build a 15,000-square-foot, 65-room hotel and conference center in southwestern St. Charles County and an 18-room boutique hotel in rural Warren County.
The cruise ship is expected to boost tourism across the region.
“Having that cruise line is just one more additive bringing people to the area and giving them another thing to do,” said Emily Underdown, tourism director with the Washington Chamber of Commerce.
She said she hopes people will be staying in Washington hotels to take the cruises, especially in the months before more hotels open near Augusta, and that it will increase business at area retailers and restaurants.
“We will definitely be promoting that,” she said.