American Queen Steamboat Company has long been known for its river cruises on the Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee Rivers. But the company is joining with Victory Cruise Lines and rebranding as American Queen Voyages while expanding its reach to Alaska and Central America next year.
The company expects to have eight vessels in the water by 2023.
“Through a decade of transformation, American Queen Voyages has surged from the great American rivers to include lakes, ocean, and expedition experiences,” American Queen Voyages president Shawn Bierdz said this week at Seatrade Cruise Global and reported by Seatrade Cruise News.
“As we move into this new chapter and introduce our version of encounter travel, we uphold the originating vision of our company’s founder and chairman, John Waggoner, and his unwavering belief in the renaissance of U.S. river cruising and close-to-home adventures,” Bierdz added.
Next year, the company will begin its all-inclusive sailings to Alaska on 186-passenger ships. The 12-day cruises on smaller boats will allow American Queen to travel passages in the 49th state that massive cruise ships cannot traverse.
“To see America, you have to look beyond the roads, and American Queen Voyages embraces this notion with compelling travel encounters,” Kari Tarnowski, senior vice president of marketing and sales, told Travel + Leisure.
The company has not released details of the Alaska or Central America cruises. They will not, however, take away from the river cruises which stretch from New Orleans to Nashville to Cincinnati to all points along the Mississippi River, all the way to St. Paul, Minnesota.
American Queen officials believe the pandemic has led Americans to look for vacation and travel options that don’t include traveling overseas, where rules are often changing.
“People are taking a second look at what we offer because we’re close to home,” Tarnowski said. “You can fly or drive (to get on a cruise). It’s not as complicated.”
Passengers on American Queen sailings currently must be fully vaccinated. They must check in to a pre-cruise hotel and get tested for COVID prior to boarding.
As part of the rebranding, American Queen will open new corporate headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.