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End of an era: Cruise line American Queen Voyages shuts down

US river, lake and ocean cruise line American Queen Voyages has ceased operations after a downturn in business.

US river, lake and ocean cruise line American Queen Voyages has ceased operations after a downturn in business.

The news comes as parent company Hornblower Group, which operates ferry and sightseeing services throughout the US, files for bankruptcy.

The announcement means all future American Queen Voyages have been cancelled. 

“American Queen Voyages has made the difficult decision to shut down,” it said in a statement. 

“Despite great efforts by our team, crew and partners, American Queen Voyages (AQV) unfortunately has been unable to rebound from the effects of the pandemic. 

“The overnight cruise industry was especially affected by changes in travel preferences and, as a result, AQV has become financially unsustainable.”

Live, daily onboard entertainment & enrichment (Image American Queen Voyages)
Entertainment on board AQV ©American Queen Voyages

American Queen Voyages confirmed that those with cruise deposits “should expect to be fully refunded”.

For information about the refund process, visit www.AQVrefunds.com.

“We are deeply proud of our crew and the outstanding travel experiences and service we have provided to our guests,” it said. 

“As we reflect on the journey we have shared over the years, we are filled with gratitude for the privilege of serving our guests, partners and agents and for being part of our incredible local communities.”

“It has been an honor to bring joy to so many lives, and we are deeply touched by the relationships we have formed and the memorable experiences we have created.

“We sincerely regret any inconvenience this decision causes. Our goal is to ensure a smooth process for all AQV stakeholders.”

Hornblower ferry at Niagara Falls
A Hornblower ferry at Niagara Falls

Meanwhile, San Francisco-based Hornblower Group has been acquired by private-equity firm Strategic Value Partners (SVP).

“This will strengthen our balance sheet and better position us to enhance our focus on our core land- and water-based experiences and transportation services, which are performing well and serving thousands of guests every day,” Hornblower states on its website.

BAU for Journey Beyond

Hornblower, which operates the popular San Francisco ferry to Alcatraz as well as Niagara Falls cruises, was also the parent company of experiential travel company Journey Beyond. However, the Adelaide-based business operated independently of Hornblower. 

In a statement this week, Journey Beyond said it plans to “return to being a freestanding company, under the continuing ownership of its current investors, Crestview Partners”. 

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Journey Beyond’s iconic Ghan

“Since its acquisition by Crestview in early 2022, Journey Beyond has continued to operate as a stand-alone business unit and been managed independently from the Hornblower Group,” said the Australian company, which is currently seeing “record demand and strong trading” across its experiences. 

Journey Beyond CEO Chris Tallent said that while its divestment from Hornblower Group “remains subject to a number of consents and approvals”, it will be business as usual for the company.

“This announcement will have no impact on our operations and as Australia’s leading experiential tourism group, we remain focused on delivering our incredible experiences to all of our guests and to the further strong growth ahead for Journey Beyond,” he said.

Journey Beyond said it will contact and assist any Australian-based guests or agents impacted by AQV’s shutdown.