In September 2021, American Queen Steamboat Company changed its name to American Queen Voyages. The cruise company also rebranded its three distinct types of cruising as American Queen Voyages River, covering river cruises; American Queen Voyages Lakes & Ocean, a new name for the fleet formerly known as Victory Cruise Lines; and American Queen Voyages Expedition, a brand focusing on Alaska and Central America experiences.
This review was written when the ship was still known as Victory I. Some amenities and features may have changed in the meantime.
From the get-go, the 202-passenger Ocean Voyager (formerly Victory I) has been a small, intimate ship, intended for warm weather coastal cruises to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway. While it's had various owners and names, the ship is currently owned by American Queen Voyages, which also operates sister ship, Ocean Navigator, as well as a fleet of American river boats.
Before relaunching in May 2019, Ocean Voyager received a refresh, giving the interior a nearly new feel. Upgrades included new carpeting, new wall coverings and, in the cabins, new mattresses. The casual dining venue was enclosed, making it usable in all types of weather. While there's a small gym and a handful of spa treatments are offered, a hot tub on the sun deck would be a welcome addition.
If you enjoy lounging in your cabin, note that all but two owner's suites are smaller than cabins on newer ships of comparable size. And, except from the suites, there are no private balconies, only deck space shared with passersby. In other words, plan on spending most of your onboard time in the lounge, the bar or on the open-air top deck. But, hey, that could be good news as cocktails are included, and the pub-style The Tavern is always lively and a fun spot to mingle with fellow passengers.
The ship excels with shore excursions that are included in each port. Cruisers experience the best of what a destination has to offer without hassle, be it a museum, historic hotel, local lunch, wine tasting, or a particularly beautiful bit of nature. That said, many excursions start shortly after breakfast, and there are no alternative tours for sleepyheads. On days when you return to the ship for lunch, you can spend your afternoon exploring near the dock or elsewhere on your own or, in some ports, take an additional included tour.
On the Great Lakes and St. Laurence Seaway trips, Victory I attracts well-traveled couples aged 60 and up, with a handful of solo cruisers. Most are Americans, many traveling with an affinity group such as Road Scholar, and all eager to explore closer-to-home destinations. Under American Queen Voyages ownership, past passengers from the line's riverboats can be expected onboard. Announcements are in English. Younger couples and children are in the minority, if they are onboard at all. The cruise line retains the right to limit the number of children under 18.
Daytime: Smart-casual attire is appropriate during the day, right through dinnertime. It's wise to pack walking shoes, sweater or fleece, rain jacket and umbrella for shore tours.
Evening: There are no formal nights, though the captain's welcome and farewell dinners are a bit dressier. Women will be comfortable in skirts or slacks with a blouse or a casual, rather than formal, dress. Men generally wear slacks and shirts. Jackets are totally optional.
Not Permitted: No shorts in the dining room at dinner.
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