American Queen Steamboat Company

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AQSC-American Queen Steamboat Company Coronavirus update

AQSC suspended its entire fleet's passenger shipping operations (all riverboats) by cancelling all voyages with pre-scheduled departures in the period March 14, 2020, through early-January, 2021. Fleet operations are planned to resume on the following dates (by ship).

  • American Countess (tba)
  • American Duchess (January 3)
  • American Queen (February 21)
  • American Empress (March 14)
  • (Victory Cruise Lines ships) Victory I and Victory II (April 4)

Previously, passenger shipping operations were planned to resume on August 2 (American Empress), August 8 (American Countess, American Queen) and August 16 (American Duchess). All affected bookings received a full refund (100% cash) or 125% refund as FCC (future cruise credit) with rebooking. Any booking may move to another departure date in 2020 and their current cancellation penalty applies to the new departure date. The new booking must be of equal or greater value and the customer is responsible for any increase in fare. AQSC covers flight change fees for all immediately rebooking customers.

The AQSC-owned company "Victory Cruise Lines" also suspended passenger shipping operations. The Victory 1 ship cruises were initially cancelled through June 30, 2020 (planned to resume on July 5), while the Victory 2 ship cruises scheduled for 2020 were all cancelled. In late-May, AQSC also cancelled the entire 2020 program of Victory 1. Victory Cruise Line's suspension was due to Canadia's travel restrictions. All affected bookings received a full monetary refund (100%) or 125% refund as FCC with rebooking.

American Queen Steamboat Company fleet

Review of American Queen Steamboat Company

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, AQSC suspended its entire fleet's passenger shipping operations (all riverboats) cancelling all voyages with pre-scheduled departures in the period March 14, 2020, through early-January, 2021. Fleet operations are planned to resume on the following dates (by ship).

  • American Countess (tba)
  • American Duchess (January 3)
  • American Queen (February 21)
  • American Empress (March 14)
  • (Victory Cruise Lines ships) Victory I and Victory II (April 4)

Previously, passenger shipping operations were planned to resume on August 2 (American Empress), August 8 (American Countess, American Queen) and August 16 (American Duchess). All affected bookings received a full refund (100% cash) or 125% refund as FCC (future cruise credit) with rebooking. Any booking may move to another departure date in 2020 and their current cancellation penalty applies to the new departure date. The new booking must be of equal or greater value and the customer is responsible for any increase in fare. AQSC covers flight change fees for all immediately rebooking customers.

The AQSC-owned company "Victory Cruise Lines" also suspended passenger shipping operations. The Victory 1 ship cruises were initially cancelled through June 30, 2020 (planned to resume on July 5), while the Victory 2 ship cruises scheduled for 2020 were all cancelled. In late-May, AQSC also cancelled the entire 2020 program of Victory 1. Victory Cruise Line's suspension was due to Canadia's travel restrictions. All affected bookings received a full monetary refund (100%) or 125% refund as FCC with rebooking.

AQSC company history

Originally founded under the name "Great American Steamboat Company", in April 2012 this business enterprise started its "American Queen steamboat" operations. Since then, the company is branded as "American Queen Steamboat Company". The brand is affiliated with the corporation "HMS Global Maritime Inc" - Florida (Fort Lauderdale based) company managing its marine operations.

American Queen Steamboat Company logo

AQSC-American Queen Steamboat Company (website) is a USA river cruise line headquartered in Memphis Tennessee. AQSC and its brand Victory Cruise Lines are owned by Hornblower Group () via its subsidiary Hornblower Cruises and Events (1974-founded, San Francisco-headquartered).

Hornblower also owns Niagara Falls Cruises (Niagara Falls Gorge Boat Tour Co, via Hornblower Canada Co) and via Hornblower USA Co owns the ferry companies Alcatraz Cruises (Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay), Statue Cruises (NYC, between Liberty Island and Ellis Island), Hornblower New York Cruises (sightseeing yacht cruises on NYC's East River and Hudson River) and NYC Ferry (on East River, between Lower and Midtown Manhattan). In September 2020, Hornblower acquired SEA-Shore Excursions of America (2011-founded tour company, based in Easton, Pennsylvania, that specializes in exclusive cruise extension land tour packages. SEA was founded to serve exclusively AQSC and Victory Cruise Lines.

In 2012, with PS American Queen AQSC resurrected the overnight Mississippi River cruise operations - a US travel service that was almost dead since 2008. SInce 2019, AQSC owns the company Victory Cruise Lines, which fleet is listed at CruiseMapper as part of AQSC. The company's founder and CEO is John Waggoner.

Currently, the American Steamboat company is led by Ted Sykes. He previously worked in leadership and executive roles at Viking Cruises, Vantage, Grand Circle Travel, and Saga Cruises. This genuine USA cruise company employs resident experts who narrate the history of all towns visited along the itinerary routes. Onboard bicycles are also at hand, allowing passengers to enjoy biking along the river and through ports the riverboats call at.

 

All AQSC ships are stern paddlewheel steamers, decked out in Victorian elegance. Their interior decorations feature rich upholstery, ornate chandeliers, brass, and polished wood. The riverboats offer modern amenities, such as Wi-Fi in all public spaces, gourmet cuisine, tickets price-inclusive tours and excursions ashore. Still, they aim to evoke the "old timer's" memories of the 19th century's paddlewheel steamships. Each of the riverboats is powered by an original design steam plant. The steam engine drives a stern paddle-wheel to propel the ship through water.

New ships

In September 2016, the company announced a fleet expansion with one newbuild - American Duchess, scheduled for launch in July 2017. However, due to Mississippi's unseasonably high water levels, the launch was pushed back 6 weeks to August 13 (christening ceremony). The inaugural cruise was on August 14, with prices starting from USD 1500 pp (double-occupancy Interior Suite rates).

American Duchess cruise ship

For the new all-suite ship was used the hull of a former casino ship ("Isle of Capri") homeported in Bettendorf (Iowa USA). The casino boat was retrofitted for premium cruises on Mississippi River and its tributaries. The new riverboat became USA's first newbuild paddle wheeler. The vessel has capacity 166 passengers and features the largest US river cruise industry's suites (sized up to 550 ft2 / 51 m2). The ship also features the river travel industry's ever first Loft Suites (2-level staterooms).

 

The American Duchess has traditional Mississippi paddle wheeler ship design. Boat's itinerary program offers overnight port stays and shorter roundtrips from homeports Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Nashville TN and New Orleans, and also (for the first time) from Chicago (Ottawa, Illinois).

In 2018 was acquired the casino boat Kanesville Queen - previously operated by "Harrahs Council Bluffs Casino and Hotel" in Council Bluffs (Iowa USA). The vessel (renamed American Countess) is scheduled to enter service in 2019, following drydock lengthening at Gulf Island Shipyard (Houma, Louisiana).

American Countess cruise ship

Ship stretching included cutting the existing hull in two and adding a 60 ft (18 m) long prefabricated midship section. Nearly 150 workers are currently involved in this project.

 

AQSC cruise deals

Operated with all-inclusive cruise packages, AQSC deals are inclusive of:

  • all shore excursions ("Steamcoach Tours" by luxury buses)
  • 1-night pre-cruise hotel package
  • soft drinks and bottled water (offered throughout the voyage)
  • wines and beers (offered at dinner only)
  • 24-hour room service (menu has standard breakfasts fare, plus sandwiches, burgers, macaroni and cheese, fresh salmon, desserts)
  • Wi-Fi Internet
  • Pilot House tour (of the ship's Navigation Bridge).
  • Smoking inside the cabin and on the balcony is forbidden. The only smoking-allowed area on the ship is the sun deck.

"Commodore Services" is the company's set of exclusive services reserved for cruise ship passengers booking categories LFS-Loft and OS-Owner suites. The list of bonus perks (price-inclusive / complimentary privileges) includes:

  • gifts (upon arrival) - fruit basket and a bottle of wine
  • suite tour (upon arrival)
  • priority boarding and dining arrangements
  • reserved balcony seating in "The Auditorium" (boat's theater/show lounge), with a personal escort to the reserved seats
  • private reception party with the ship's Captain and Senior Officers
  • personal River Butler
  • unpacking, hanging the clothes in the closet, packing, laundry, pressing service, shoeshine (conditioning)
  • in-cabin dining - Afternoon Tea service, Breakfast, and Dinner service (on the suite's balcony, upon request), pre-dinner canapes, post-dinner sweets).

Victory Cruise Lines

In mid-November 2018, AQSC announced an agreement to acquire the brand "Victory Cruise Line" and its two chartered (Sunstone Ships-owned) vessels Victory I (2001-built) and Victory II (2004-built). To the AQSC fleet was also added the Ocean Victory (2021) - Sunstone-owned newbuild vessel to be operated under charter. All the 3 ships are in a separate fleet - under the "Victory Cruise Lines" brand. Transaction terms were not disclosed. The acquisition deal was closed in mid-January 2019.

For season 2019 (May through October), Victory Cruise Line scheduled 10-day Great Lakes cruises operated with all-inclusive deals. Victory 1 ship was homeported in Montreal and Detroit MI, with route ports Quebec City, Kingston, Toronto (with crossing Welland Canal between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie), Port Colborne (gateway to Niagara Falls) and Cleveland. Victory 2 ship was homeported in Toronto and Chicago, with route ports Port Colborne, Cleveland, Detroit, Lake Huron (scenic cruising), Little Current (Manitoulin Island), Soo Locks (connecting Lake Superior with Great Lakes). Sault Ste Marie, Mackinac Island, Lake Michigan.

Itinerary of American Queen Steamboat Company

Memphis TN is an important homeport for the AQSC. American Queen (fleet's most famous riverboat) docks there regularly - at the city attraction Beale Street Landing. In April 2014, a second riverboat (American Empress) joined the fleet after a major refurbishment. The line's second ship formerly sailed under the name "Empress of the North" - another famous USA steamboat ship.

The American Steamboat line owns and operates only three (for now) paddle wheeler riverboats sailing on some of the biggest rivers in the USA:

American Queen Steamboat Company invites travellers to enjoy dramatic landscapes that have long inspired writers, artists and steamboat guests on one of their famed sailings along the Ohio, Tennessee, Columbia, Cumberland, Snake and Mississippi rivers. All river cruises aboard the three iconic American paddlewheel riverboats of the company include luxurious accommodations, top-notch service, and authentic connection to America's geography, history, culture, music, and cuisine.

The following AQSC cruise itinerary map shows the company's destinations and all itineraries as rivers and ports of call. The company's main departure ports are with capital letters and bolded. These are Minneapolis-St Paul (Minnesota), Chicago (Illinois), St Louis (Missouri), Nashville (Tennessee), Memphis (Tennessee) and New Orleans (Louisiana).

American Queen Steamboat Company cruise itineraries map

In mid-July 2020, AQSC announced the new 7-day "Heart of the Mississippi Cruise" itinerary following the partnership deal with AHA (American Heart Association, a non-organization in the USA).

  • The departure was scheduled for American Countess ship (February 14-21, 2021, Memphis to New Orleans), inclusive of pre-cruise Memphis hotel overnight (Feb 13-14).
  • The voyage visits Vicksburg, Natchez, St Francisville and Baton Rouge.
  • Shipboard activities include a special fundraiser event (with souvenir T-shirt, medal award, live music at Nottoway Plantation and Resort), special dining (healthy entrees with salmon and chicken), cooking demo, wellness presentation (by an AHA employee), a CPR class (AHA employee-led) and morning stretching exercise (on Sundeck).
  • The cruise culminates with a running/walking event at Nottoway Resort. All entry fees ($25 pp) will be donated to AHA's c campaign "Life is Why We Give".

In November 2020, AQSC-American Queen Steamboat Company announced its 2021 Special Edition Voyages. With itineraries featuring exceptional cruise programming aboard American DuchessAmerican Queen, and the newest paddle-wheeler to join the fleet, American Countess, passengers can experience American traditions while creating memories as they sail along the most historic rivers in the U.S.

The 2021 Special Edition Voyages include:

  • The Rhythm of the Rivers - a range of musically themed itineraries. American Music Festival voyages feature an exclusive concert by Lee Greenwood along with other special guests. The ‘Big Band’ itinerary is offered from the cities of Memphis TN and New Orleans (Port NOLA, Louisiana). A Music of the 50’s and 60’s itinerary out of Louisville KY to Memphis transports vacationers back in time to one of the most iconic periods of rock ‘n’ roll.
  • Culinary & Cocktails. Passengers will find an expansive sampling of historical and local dishes and drinks to choose from along their voyage with the ‘Culinary & Cocktail’ collection. With various offerings, including the ‘Bourbon – An American Spirit’ or ‘Cajun Creole Culinary Experience’ itinerary, the line offers something for everyone. For those looking for a more traditional culinary experience, the AQSC ‘American Culinary Experience’ offers guests aboard American Countess and American Duchess access to signature dishes from local dining venues as well as special presentations by innovators and experts from the culinary industry. Highlights feature Top Chef alumni and James Beard-nominated chef, Kevin Gillespie, who is expected to join several American Culinary Experience cruises on American Duchess and host Q&A sessions, conduct cooking demonstrations, sign cookbooks provided compliments of AQSC, and work directly with the line’s Director of Culinary Operations, Paul Wayland Smith, in order to include signature dishes on the menu.
  • Special Events. In addition to ‘The Kentucky Derby’ itinerary and ‘Founders Cruise,’ other special event voyages include the ‘American River Golf Classic’, aboard American Countess featuring a golf package option to play 4 prestigious courses along Lower Mississippi, sailing from Memphis TN to NOLA. The ‘Autumn on the River’ itinerary aboard American Countess, Duchess, and Queen boasts the best in autumn river cruising along the route from Memphis TN to Chattanooga (or the reverse), as well as from Minneapolis to Saint Louis. Previous passengers will benefit from the ‘Past Guest Reunion Cruise’, a special itinerary from Memphis to NOLA aboard American Countess where past passengers can meet old friends as they celebrate the loyalty of American Queen Steamboat Company family guests.
  • Holidays. With cruises for Memorial Day, July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year’s aboard American Duchess, American Queen, and American Countess, passengers can experience Southern traditions while creating memories as they sail along America’s most storied rivers. The July 4th ‘Star-Spangled Cruise’ and ‘Salute to Veterans’ itineraries offer the best way to celebrate. For the fall and winter, passengers can choose to spend their holidays with the AQSC family with a range of itineraries, including a ‘Thanksgiving’ itinerary, ‘Home for the Holidays’ voyage, ‘Creole Christmas’, ‘Country Christmas’, and a ‘New Year’s Celebration’ itinerary.
  • Giving Back. Passengers can help AQSC support the American Heart Association’s ‘Life Is Why We Give’ campaign via a special cruise from Memphis TN to New Orleans in February aboard American Duchess. The company will donate a portion of the proceeds from its ‘Heart of the Mississippi’ sailing to the special charitable cause, while the crew and guests will be able to raise contributions via participating in a morning 5k walk at Nottoway. The ‘Community Outreach’ itinerary will see passengers working with the communities, visited by American Queen Steamboat Company sailings, to engage with charities and volunteer opportunities as they sail from Louisville to Saint Louis MO aboard American Duchess. AQSC will also offer the ‘Breast Cancer Awareness’ itinerary aboard American Countess from Saint Louis to New Orleans, with booking proceeds going to breast cancer research. The voyage, embarking on October 17, 2021, also features a minimum donation from the cruise line which will donate US$400 for each stateroom booking on American Countess. Along with other program initiatives, AQSC will donate an aggregate guaranteed minimum of US$50,000.
  • History & Culture. Specially tailored ‘History & Culture’ sailings offer a glimpse back into the beginnings of river cruising. Cruising aboard American Duchess, the ‘Art of Discovery’ voyage offers 9-day itineraries in June-September featuring a call at Paducah, Kentucky – one of 9 UNESCO Creative Cities in the US and only one of 2 recognized for Crafts & Folk Art. ‘Civil War’ d cruises bring passengers on a journey through the most divided moments of the nation, discovering along the way the culture, history, and stories that have survived. American Queen will sail the route from Memphis to New Orleans during April, May, and October, as well as aboard American Duchess and Countess from Memphis TN to Chattanooga in June, October, and November.

American Queen Steamboat Company related cruise news

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