Cruise line abruptly shuts down, files Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Making a swift and subtle exit, American Queen Voyages (AQV) announced that it shut down as of February 20, 2024. All cruises have been canceled, including voyages for February 2024.

An aerial view of a riverboat cruising down a river.
American Queen (Photo via AQV)

The headline on its website reads: “American Queen Voyages has made the difficult decision to shut down.” The same news was shared via a voice message in its customer hotline and emails to customers and employees.

The river cruise line assured passengers that they would receive full refunds

Hundreds of employees received an email informing them of their termination, effective 5 pm on February 20. It informed them that AQV offices in Vancouver, New Orleans, and Fort Lauderdale would shut down permanently.

A recorded message on the company’s reservation line also stated the company has shut down effective immediately.

According to the message posted on its website, the cruise line failed to recover from the pandemic. It said: “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.”

Meanwhile, the letter to employees mentioned a lack of capital. “The timing of this notice is necessitated by both the unforeseen business circumstances and an inability to obtain sufficient capital at a commercially reasonable rate to continue operations,” it stated.

A room on a cruise ship with a view of a river offered by American Queen Voyages.
American Queen (Photo via AQV)

In January, Travel Weekly reported that several major trade organizations and companies were experiencing “service issues” related to AQV. Because of matters like delayed commissions, they stopped selling AQV cruises.

Crestview Partners, a private equity firm, acquired AQV’s parent company, Hornblower Group, in 2018. Formerly known as the American Queen Steamboat Company, AQV was rebranded after a 2021 merger with Victory Cruise Lines.

It offered river cruises along the Mississippi River, Pacific Northwest, and Ohio River valley. Established in 2011, the company owns four river vessels, including the largest paddlewheel steamboat, American Queen.

On Tuesday, the company filed for voluntary filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a Texas court.

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