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M/V Victory II cruises in Montreal, Quebéc (Photo: Victory Cruise Line)

American Queen Voyages to Stop Great Lakes Cruises in 2024, Sell Two Ships

M/V Victory II cruises in Montreal, Quebéc (Photo: Victory Cruise Line)
Executive Editor, U.S.
Chris Gray Faust

Sep 6, 2023

Read time
2 min read

(4:15 p.m. EDT) -- American Queen Voyages has decided to pull its two ships out of the Great Lakes and concentrate on its river cruises.

The line said Tuesday while all scheduled cruises on the Great Lakes will run through November 2023, it plans to sell the 202-passenger ships Ocean Navigator and Ocean Voyager. The company will not sail the Great Lakes in 2024 or 2025.

In a press release, the cruise line said the changes were being made so the company could refocus on its river cruise itineraries and ships.

"Our customers consistently tell us our U.S. River itineraries are exceptional and demonstrate this by returning again and again," said Cindy D'Aoust, president of American Queen Voyages. "All of our focus is being put into updating and enhancing our popular river product with strategic partnerships and an elevated culinary program, which we know have been very well received."

AQV Teaming Up With America's Test Kitchen, Themed Sailings

Mississippi River Cruise Tips (Photo: American Queen Steamboat Company)

Among the changes being implemented on the line's river ships, which include American Queen, American Countess, American Duchess and American Empress: A new partnership with America's Test Kitchen.

The line has a special culinary themed Mississippi River sailing on American Queen on October 29, where Bridget Lancaster, the co-host of America's Test Kitchen, will be onboard with AQV's Culinary Ambassador Regina Charboneau. The cruise will launch new recipes served onboard that reflect America's rivers.

Another special sailing on American Countess will focus on bourbon, with guest Dickie Brennan of the Bourbon House in New Orleans. American Empress is leaning into the wines of the Pacific Northwest.

AQV also has a small expedition ship in Alaska, Ocean Victory, which will continue to sail.

What's interesting about the refocus on rivers is that American Queen Voyages underwent a name change in 2021 specifically because the line was branching out into the Great Lakes, as well as Alaska and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. The company was previously known as the American Queen Steamboat Company.

Great Lakes Cruise Options Still Exist

Viking Octantis passing through the Soo Locks on a Great Lakes cruise (Photo/Harriet Baskas)

Luckily for cruisers who still want to sail on the Great Lakes, options remain.

For North American passengers, Pearl Seas Cruises has a 210-passenger ship, Pearl Mist, that makes regular itineraries between Toronto and Milwaukee; Quebec and Milwaukee and Duluth and Toronto. Cruises are bookable through 2025.

Viking also has both of its expedition ships, Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris, in the Great Lakes in 2023. Three different itineraries are being sold in the region through 2025.

European lines that occasionally sail the Great Lakes include Hapag-Lloyd and Ponant.

Updated September 06, 2023
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