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American Queen docked on the Mississippi River (Photo: Gwen Pratesi)
American Queen docked on the Mississippi River (Photo: Gwen Pratesi)

American Queen Voyages Ceases All Operations

American Queen docked on the Mississippi River (Photo: Gwen Pratesi)
American Queen docked on the Mississippi River (Photo: Gwen Pratesi)
Senior Editor, News and Features
Aaron Saunders

Last updated
Feb 21, 2024

Read time
4 min read

(Updated 10:45 a.m. EST) -- After months of speculation, American Queen Voyages ceased all operations on the evening of February 20.

In an internal company letter, which has been posted anonymously to a private Facebook group, employees were notified that the company would cease operations as of 5 p.m. local time.

Citing "unforeseen circumstances" and a lack of available capital, American Queen notified all employees that their termination would be effective at 5 p.m. and was expected to be permanent.

"We are writing to inform you that American Queen Steamboat Company LLC will cease all business operations effective February 20, 2024," the message read.

Cruise Critic has independently verified the authenticity of the message.

The news comes after the the company scrubbed its February cruises.

Before the February sailings were canceled, travel suppliers such as Signature had stopped offering American Queen sailings. Passengers on Cruise Critic's message boards had cited service issues onboard, as well as lengthy delays in obtaining refunds for canceled sailings and COVID-19 issues.

American Queen had insisted, however, that voyages would resume as planned in March.

Attempting to make an online booking with American Queen resulted in this message late on February 20, 2024.
Attempting to make an online booking with American Queen resulted in this message late on February 20, 2024.

Cruise Critic members caught on to the trouble as well. Member eroller writes, "We knew this was coming but just didn’t know the exact date. It should be in all the traditional cruise news outlets tomorrow."

The similarly-named, though completely separate U.S. river and coastal cruise company, American Cruise Lines, remains fully operational.

Hornblower Group Files for Chapter 11; Issues Statement on American Queen; Says Company Will Be Sold or Shuttered

American Empress on the Columbia River (Photo: American Queen Steamboat Company)
American Empress on the Columbia River (Photo: American Queen Steamboat Company)

In an email statement to Cruise Critic, Hornblower Group, which had served as parent company of American Queen Voyages, wrote that it is actively trying to find a new buyer for American Queen Voyages and its fleet.

"It is most unfortunate that, despite great efforts by our team, crew and partners, AQV has been unable to fully rebound from the effects of the pandemic," said Adam Peakes, President, Hornblower Group. "As a result, the financial impact has proven unsustainable and we have made the very difficult decision to sell the company, or, if a sale cannot be achieved, its operations will be wound down.

"Please know this decision was not made lightly. We are deeply proud of our employees and crew for the outstanding services they have provided our guests over the years. As the backbone of the AQV experience we extend our deepest appreciation to our team for their unwavering commitment, passion and hard work, which has been exceptional. We would also like to express our heartfelt gratitude to our guests, partners, agents and the local communities where we call who have each been integral to our journey."

In a separate release, Hornblower Group announced it would be acquired by a global alternative investment firm known as Strategic Value Partners, LLC, and would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

"To efficiently implement the agreement and ensure an orderly sale or wind-down of AQV, Hornblower and certain of its affiliates have initiated a voluntary court-supervised and pre-arranged process under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code," states the release.

"Due to the overwhelming support of its investors, Hornblower expects to move through this process on an accelerated basis and emerge from Chapter 11 in approximately four months."

Are You Booked With American Queen Voyages?

American Empress
American Empress

AQV has set up a site for affected customers with bookings with the line through which they may file a three-part request to obtain a refund.

First, affected guests have to submit a claim that includes documentation covering the cruise, methods of payment, and amounts owing.

Secondly, once this first step has been completed, AQV states it will issue affected guests with a Denial Notice stating that refunds will not be provided as the company has filed Chapter 11.

That Denial Notice can then be submitted to Argo Surety, which, according to the line, has insured all trips.

More details can be found on American Queen's Customer and Group Refund Page.

Cruise Critic will update this story with more information as it becomes available.

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