Passenger Vessels

American Queen Steamboat Company Suspends Sailings Through The End Of 2020

The global pandemic has dealt a serious blow to the travel and hospitality industries, and no sector has been hit harder than passenger cruising. American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC) is the latest passenger cruise line to officially announce it has canceled all sailings through the end of the year.

“We came to the difficult decision to extend our suspensions through the remainder of 2020 due to an abundance of caution,” said John Waggoner, founder and CEO of American Queen Steamboat Company. “Our top priority remains the well-being of our guests, crew and partners. As we continue to monitor and assess the situation, we are confident that when we do resume operations, the enhanced health and safety procedures that we have put into place will allow our guests to sail with confidence.”

At the present, AQSC, a Hornblower company, operates four passenger cruise ships on the rivers of the United States. The American Duchess, the American Queen and the brand new American Countess all operate on the Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee rivers. The American Empress sails on the Columbia and Snake rivers in Oregon and Washington.

Even with sailings canceled for the rest of the year, AQSC and its sister company, Victory Cruise Lines, are building for the future.

AQSC was to debut the American Countess, built from the hull of the former casino boat Kanesville Queen, in April. The christening and inaugural cruise of the 245-passenger American Countess was canceled due to COVID-19. The Countess is now expected to make its first river cruise the first quarter of 2021, offering six- and 16-day cruises on the Mississippi River.

Next spring, Victory Cruise Lines (VCL) will debut the Ocean Victory, which will offer 93 suites, 68 of which will have balconies. The Ocean Victory’s first voyage will be a 12-day trip from Vancouver, B.C., Canada, to Sitka, Alaska. That voyage is currently planned for May 2021. VCL also operates the cruise ships Victory I and Victory II. Victory Cruise Line offers itineraries in Canada, the Great Lakes, New England, Alaska and the Pacific Coast.

Besides its traditional cruises, AQSC and Victory Cruise Lines recently announced a partnership with California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), through which Cal Poly students will engage in internships aboard the Ocean Victory as it sails in Alaska.

Internships will begin in the spring semester of 2021 and will last four to six months. Students will live and work aboard the vessel and experience Alaska alongside cruise guests, gaining working experience and a taste of Alaska in the process. Roles aboard the vessel will range from conducting onboard educational sessions to guiding and participating in kayaking and hiking expeditions.

The partnership is particularly special for Waggoner, a two-time Cal Poly graduate.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to the hard-working students of Cal Poly,” Waggoner said. “Not only will this program allow us to further expand Ocean Victory’s unparalleled educational and enrichment programming, but we will also be able to give back to the university and its students that have provided me with so much throughout my career.”