Majestic America was founded in 2006 through the combination of American West Steamboat Company and the vessels of Delta Queen Steamboat Company (which specialized in small ship cruises on American rivers), and has been plagued by growing pains ever since. The line suffered major economic losses in 2007, citing insufficient demand at initial pricing levels -- though the accidental grounding of Empress of the North, which was subsequently out of service for eight months, didn't help matters. Because of those troubles, the line chose to take its latest acquisition, Contessa, out of service at that time.
And as if that weren't enough, Majestic's historic Delta Queen is being forced into retirement this year because the U.S. government has declined to continue its special exemption from safety requirements.
Joe Ueberroth, Chairman and CEO of Ambassadors International, is quoted as saying in a press release that "our decision to exit Majestic America Line enables us to focus our efforts and investments on the successes of Windstar Cruises" (Ambassadors acquired that line from Holland America in April 2007).
So what does the sale mean for a cruise line still finding its footing? The Ambassadors release states that "several credible parties have expressed a sincere interest in acquiring some and/or all the assets of Majestic America Line." At this point, spokespersons for Majestic America Line do not have any additional information and could not comment on the sale.
Ambassadors International has scheduled a conference call for Tuesday, May 6, during which management will elaborate further on the decision to sell MAL; we'll keep you posted.
--by Melissa Baldwin, Managing Editor