American Queen Steamboat Co. Acquires Victory Cruise Lines
By Anne Kalosh.
American Queen Steamboat Co. (AQSC) is acquiring Victory I and Victory II, along with the Victory Cruise Lines brand. This will enable AQSC to expand beyond the U.S. rivers and into the Great Lakes—a longtime goal—and perhaps beyond.
The transaction is expected to close in early January.
Victory will become a sister brand of AQSC, which operates three U.S.-flag riverboats—American Queen, American Duchess and American Empress—and has just started building a fourth, American Countess, to debut in 2020.
The 202-passenger Victory I and Victory II are sister vessels that were built in Florida as Cape May Light and Cape Cod Light and are currently registered in the Bahamas. Before Victory, they sailed, respectively, as Saint Laurent for the short-lived Haimark Line and as Sea Discoverer, but each had other names and affiliations.
The Victory brand is poised to grow with the seasonal charter of a new build expedition ship, Ocean Victory. This 200-passenger ship is one in a series of Infinity-class new builds under construction in China for SunStone Ships, the Miami-based company that is selling Victory to AQSC. Victory will have Ocean Victory in the (northern) summers starting in 2020.
“We are pleased to purchase the Victory I and Victory II, which will fuel the continued success and growth of American Queen Steamboat Company,” AQSC Chairman and CEO John Waggoner said. “We look forward to working closely with Victory Cruise Lines’ new and existing travel partners. These vessels enable us to provide guests with more diverse cruising options, particularly in the Great Lakes, a region that our customers have been requesting for years.”
Victory President and CEO Hans Lagerweij said Great Lakes bookings for 2019 are already 35 percent ahead of their actual sales in 2018. “AQSC’s established and strong product and brand is well-suited to take the Victory vessels and Victory Cruise Lines brand forward,” he added, “creating one of the largest North American Great Lakes and U.S. river cruising companies in the country.”
Victory also operates cruises in New England, and had planned to launch a new sea and land program in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula on Victory II in January from Miami, while Cuba circumnavigations were to start from Miami on Victory I in March.
It’s unclear whether the Cuba and Mexican Yucatán programs will operate. AQSC said it is reviewing Victory’s itineraries.
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