The Delta Queen cleared one hurdle on Wednesday night, after the House voted to exempt the vessel from a ban on wooden boats making overnight trips with more than 50 passengers.
"The boat has always been safe when she was on the river. She has never had any incidents. She's always passed her Coast Guard certificates of inspection. So we have always been as crew members safe aboard this boat," said manager Jennifer Lemmon.
The Delta Queen docked on the Chattanooga Waterfront in 2009 and became floating hotel. One merchant say the attraction has helped his business.
"We get customers, referrals and people come here and there is actually no other place on the Northshore for people too. There are no other hotels or motels on the Northshore that are kind of nice for them for people to visit and stay," added Bruce Weiss, owner of River Street Deli
"We have people that are ready to step up to the plate and put in more money. We have to purchase the vessel from Xanterra. We are planning on doing several million dollars worth of repairs. We think maybe we could take her to a deep water port, replace the boilers and have her back on the water cruising by maybe next year," said Lemmon.
The Queen is up for sale and there's hope local investors will keep the ship here in Chattanooga.
"We basically hope that she'll resume overnight travel. We are looking to have a wide and varied schedule that is not necessarily going the same place as all the other boats are and this boat has always stayed full because she's so unique, people can't wait to get on board so we think it'll be a very productive venture once it starts," added Lemmon.
It appears a group of investors from New Orleans are the front runners to buy and renovate the boat. Rumors say they're eyeing Cincinnati and Louisville as possible new homes for the Delta Queen.