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American Splendor Captain Tim Thorsen honors local boy, 8-year-old James Williams



Captain Tim Thorsen, Grant Williams and James Williams. Photo by David Day
Captain Tim Thorsen, Grant Williams and James Williams. Photo by David Day
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American Splendor Captain Tim Thorsen honored 8-year-old James Williams Friday afternoon.

Jimmy Williams and his family had been coming to the riverfront to look at the cruise ships on a regular basis. The bright young man became popular with the crew on the American Splendor when they made the port in Vicksburg.

American Splendor Captain Tim Thorsen became aware of him in 2020. “The very first time I saw him was back in 2020 when the river stage was all the way up to the top. I saw him down here at the boats, but I didn’t really get a chance to meet him, I was just aware that he used to come down and look at the boats,” said Captain Thorsen.

Who is this famous kid?

“This season, when he was coming out, I kept seeing deckhands going out and talking to him and interacting and everything. And I was like, who is this famous kid? Everyone on the boat seems to know him but me. So I came down and introduced myself to him and got to talking to him and I was thoroughly impressed by him. Everything he knows about our company and our ships and how enthusiastic he is about everything. This kid is just an inspiration.”

Young Williams has expressed a desire to design riverboats when he is older. His current knowledge of the ship, how they operate and who operates them is beyond his eight years. He even presented the Captain with a design he had created.

captain honors boy

James Williams, 8. Photo by David Day

Captain Thorsen said, “In a lot of ways he reminded me of my own daughter. When she was 9-years-old I took her to a Thunderbirds Air Show. When she saw those Thunderbirds fly over the top and they spread out over the top of her head, she just looked up at me and she goes Daddy, that’s what I want to do when I grow up. She told everybody for her whole life she was going to be an Air Force pilot. When she was 23-years-old, she became the youngest, lowest-ranking aircraft commander in the history of aviation. So, she has been a phenomenal Air Force pilot and she never lost that focus. I see that focus in young Jim there and it is just an inspiration and thought we need to do something for him. He’s the future. That’s what I like to see and foster.”

Thorsen has been with American Cruise Lines for five years and has been a ship’s captain for 32 years. He took over as Captain of the American Splendor this year. American Cruise Lines is an America-based and privately owned company headed up by Charlie Robinson. Robinson, along with his siblings are continuing the tradition started by his parents over 50 years ago.

A special celebration with the Captain

On Friday afternoon Captain Thorsen invited young Williams and his family onto the American Splendor to celebrate Jimmy’s 8th birthday. The small party was hosted in the Wheelhouse Lounge which offered scenic views of the paddlewheel and waterway.

The Captain, on behalf of American Cruise Lines, presented Jimmy with a backpack containing ACL hats, shirts and lanyards.

The Captain had one more gift as well.

In a neatly wrapped box was a scale model of the Splendor’s sister ship, the American Song. “Thank you SO much!” said an exuberant James Williams. Jimmy and his brother Grant both then began pointing out the various parts of the scale model. After the gift exchange, Jimmy’s family enjoyed cake with the Captain.

captain honors boy

Grant Williams, Beth Pitts, Leigh Williams, Neil Williams and James Williams. Photo by David Day




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