American Queen Steamboat Company fleet
Review of American Queen Steamboat Company
"American Queen Steamboat Company" (AQSC) is an USA river cruise line headquartered in Memphis Tennessee. In 2012, with PS American Queen the company resurrected the overnight Mississippi River cruise operations - an US travel niche that was almost dead since 2008.
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 brabded 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.
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.
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 (built 2001) and Victory II (built 2004). To AQSC fleet will also be added the newbuild ship Ocean Victory (2021) - Sunstone Ships-owned vessel (currently under construction) which will be operated under charter.
- All the 3 ships will stay in a separate fleet - under the "Victory Cruise Line" brand.
- Transaction terms were not disclosed. The deal is expected to be closed in early-January 2019.
- The announcement was officially made by company's CEO John Waggoner.
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 unseasonable high water leves, the launch was pushed back 6 weeks to August 13 (christening ceremony). The inaugural cruise was on August 14, with prices starting fom USD 1500 pp (double-occupancy Interior Suite rates).
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 paddlewheeler. 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 paddlewheeler ship design. Boat's itinerary program offers overnight port stays and shorter roundtrips from homeports Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Nashville 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).
Ship stretching included cuting 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.
American Queen Steamboat Company cruise deals
Operated with all-inclusive cruise packages, American Duchess 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 for breakfasts fare, plus sandwiches, burgers, macaroni & 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" are 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 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).
Itinerary of American Queen Steamboat Company
Memphis TN is an important homeport for the line. Its most famous riverboat American Queen docks there regularly - at the Beale Street Landing city attraction. 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) paddlewheeler riverboats sailing on some of the biggest rivers in the USA:
- American Duchess (2017)
- American Empress (built 2004, acquired 2013) on Snake and Columbia (Pacific Northwest)
- American Queen (built 1995, acquired 2011) on Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee.
- American Countess (built 1995, former Kanesville Queen casino boat, acquired 2018) on Mississippi River
American Queen Steamboat Company invites travelers 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.
Selected itineraries aboard American Duchess, American Empress and American Queen throughout 2019 season include:
- Antebellum South from New Orleans to Memphis aboard American Queen (February 17-25 and June 9-17) and American Duchess (June 2-10, 16-24 and June 30-July 8)
- Jewels of the Lower Mississippi from Memphis to New Orleans aboard American Queen (February 24-March 4, June 2-10 and 16-24) and American Duchess (June 9-17 and June 23-July 1)
- Authentic America on the Mighty Mississippi from New Orleans to Red Wing (Minneapolis, MN) aboard American Queen (June 23-July 15)
- Welcome to the Magnificent Pacific Northwest roundtrip from Vancouver WA (Portland) aboard American Empress (March 24-April 1)
- Pacific Northwest Splendor from Vancouver WA (Portland) and Clarkston WA aboard American Empress (March 31-April 8).
All journeys include one-night pre-cruise hotel stay, hop-on hop-off shore trips in all ports of call, complimentary beer and wine with dinner as well as a host of other amenities.
The following American Queen Steamboat Company cruise itinerary map shows the line'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).
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