American Cruise Lines new move to boost cruise travel – Travel And Tour World

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In a strategic move that underscores its growing dominance in the U.S. river cruise market, American Cruise Lines (ACL) has acquired four iconic paddlewheelers from the American Queen Voyages (AQV) fleet. This acquisition comes in the wake of AQV ceasing operations on February 20th, followed by a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by the river cruise line and its parent company, Hornblower Holdings.

The deal, finalized through the bankruptcy proceedings, represents a significant expansion for Guilford, Connecticut-based ACL and a reshaping of the U.S. river cruising landscape.

The vessels acquired in this landmark deal include the American Queen, the flagship of the former AQV fleet and the largest riverboat ever built in the United States, along with the American Empress, American Countess, and American Duchess. These U.S.-flagged ships, renowned for their journeys along the Mississippi River and its tributaries, as well as the Columbia and Snake rivers, are symbols of the rich heritage and scenic beauty of American river cruising.

ACL’s announcement of the acquisition reflects the company’s enthusiasm and strategic vision for the future of river cruising in America. “American Cruise Lines is pleased to be the successful bidder for AQV’s river vessels,” the company stated. “We look forward to announcing additional details after this portion of the Hornblower Holdings bankruptcy process concludes.”

The purchase price details reveal the American Queen as the fleet’s jewel, fetching the highest price at $2.15 million. The American Empress and American Countess were acquired for $1.6 million each, whereas the American Duchess was bought for $200,000. Additionally, ACL has acquired the intellectual property of American Queen Voyages, including trademarks, website domain names, and certain business records, for $750,000, bringing the total cash outlay to $6.3 million, as per court documents filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Houston.

The American Queen, debuting in 1995 and extensively refurbished in 2013, along with the American Empress, which launched in 2003 and was significantly refurbished in 2014, represent the legacy and allure of American river cruising. The American Duchess, initially built as a casino boat in 1995 and transformed into a river cruise vessel in 2017, and the American Countess, with a similar origin and converted to an overnight ship in 2021, highlight the innovative repurposing of vessels to enhance the river cruising experience.

With this acquisition, ACL’s fleet of paddlewheelers will double to eight, signaling the company’s commitment to leading the revival and growth of river cruising in the United States. This expansion not only strengthens ACL’s position in the market but also promises to enrich the American river cruising experience for travelers with a broader array of destinations and enhanced onboard experiences.

As the sale awaits finalization at a hearing set for April 4th in Houston, the future of AQV’s former Great Lakes vessels, the Ocean Navigator and Ocean Voyager, remains in flux, with an auction held on April 1st. This acquisition’s implications extend beyond the immediate expansion of ACL’s fleet, signaling a potential renaissance in U.S. river cruising that honors the nation’s rich maritime heritage while embracing modern luxury and convenience.

American Cruise Lines’ strategic acquisition of American Queen Voyages’ paddlewheelers marks a significant milestone in the U.S. river cruise industry. This expansion not only reflects ACL’s commitment to growth and excellence but also ensures the legacy of American river cruising continues to thrive, offering travelers unparalleled experiences along the nation’s most iconic rivers. As ACL integrates these vessels into its fleet, the future of American river cruising looks brighter than ever, promising a new era of exploration, luxury, and adventure on the waterways that have shaped the country’s history and culture.

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