American Queen Voyages is not returning to the Great Lakes next season and has announced its intention to sell two of its vessels: Ocean Navigator and Ocean Voyager.
The move is part of a strategic decision to refocus its business on river cruises, said the company, which is part of Hornblower Group, on Tuesday (June 20).
As such, a series of deployment changes and updates will commence in early 2024 and extend into 2025.
New routes are now open for early bookings with early savings available on key dates.
“Our primary commitment is to deliver a best-in-class cruise vacation with a focus on immersive culinary and destination experiences,” said Cindy D’Aoust, president of American Queen Voyages. “Our customers consistently tell us our U.S. River itineraries are exceptional and demonstrate this by returning again and again.”
A fact recently supported through a McKinsey market survey where participants noted American Queen Voyages enjoys the highest brand affinity amongst U.S. river operators.
“All of our focus is being put into updating and enhancing our popular river product with strategic partnerships and an elevated culinary program, which we know have been very well received,” said D’Aoust.
Focusing on U.S. River itineraries
The revised 2024 itineraries Include:
Lower Mississippi: AQV will begin the season with its popular Lower Mississippi voyages through the cities and historic port towns of the South on the 417-guest American Queen, the largest steamboat ever built. Based on guest requests, we will offer new three and four-day cruises.
Upper Mississippi: Back by popular demand, AQV will sail the Mississippi from its headwaters in Minnesota all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. This 16-day journey combines wildlife and intricate locks and dams, with Southern charms and the birthplaces of jazz and country music.
America’s Heartland: The 245-guest, paddle wheeler American Countess cruises the Ohio, Tennessee, and Cumberland rivers. New Experiential Voyages include a bourbon-themed voyage with noted food and spirits experts, including Dickie Brennan, chef-owner of the legendary Bourbon House in New Orleans.
Snake & Columbia Rivers: Travellers can discover the Pacific Northwest aboard the 221-guest American Empress, including new wine-themed cruises. Depending on the voyage, guests can join a salmon excursion and bring their freshly caught and cleaned catch back to enjoy on the boat.
Alaska & British Columbia: AQV will return to Alaska for its third season. Aboard the environmentally friendly, 186-guest Ocean Victory, guests enjoy expeditions via Zodiac exploration boats and kayak excursions led by a team of naturalists and field guides in cooperation with California Polytechnic State University.
All current published Great Lakes voyages will continue to operate as planned through November 2023, the company says.