American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC), a Hornblower family company, has announced a new timeline for resuming operations on three vessels during 2020.
- American Duchess will resume service on July 20 as previously announced.
- American Empress will suspend cruising through July 19.
- American Countess and American Queen will suspend operations through August 8.
The decision to update the 2020 season timeline also follows AQSC’s recent partnership announcement with Ochsner Health, a Louisiana-based healthcare provider, and the development of new company-wide health and safety protocols. Ochsner Health will work with AQSC on implementing disease prevention and mitigation strategies across the entire AQSC fleet. A highlight of this partnership includes real-time access to infectious disease experts within the Ochsner nation-wide telehealth system, allowing guests and crew to see a physician without leaving the safety and comfort of their stateroom.
Supplementing this partnership, AQSC has relationships with regional health care providers along all of its routes and the ability to transport passengers ashore quickly and efficiently for treatment.
AQSC intends to resume service with American Duchess, sailing on the Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee Rivers, starting with the July 20-27 "Mark Twain’s Mississippi" sailing from St. Louis, MO (Alton) to Minneapolis, MN (Red Wing), as previously announced. Technically, the itinerary itself begins July 19 as guests check into a St. Louis hotel for a one-night land stay.
American Empress, which sails the Columbia and Snake Rivers, will have its cruise suspension extended through July 19, 2020.
That region has proven a bit challenging for the river cruise industry in America in the wake of modification to Oregon's phased reopening protocol, which resulted in a competitor's need to cancel a cruise last week.
American Countess, the latest paddlewheeler to join the AQSC fleet, is targeted at sailings on the Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee rivers. Service will be suspended through August 8, 2020. The latest addition to the company's fleet, this is the former Kanesville Queen, a gaming paddlewheeler rebuilt from the hull upward, lengthened and totally renovated inside by AQSC.
The iconic American Queen is the country's largest paddlewheeler, sailing the Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee Rivers. The suspension of cruise operations for this vessel is now extended through August 8, 2020.
AQSC will be contacting all guests and travel agents impacted by the extended suspensions and will be available to discuss rebooking options. It will offer a Future Cruise Credit (FCC) for 125 percent of the cruise fare, an offer valid for use through 2022.
AQSC said in the press statement that it "thanks guests, travel agent partners, vendors and team members for their patience and understanding during this constantly developing situation."
The cruise line pledged to continue to work closely with ports of call and the local communities it visits, as well as the following recommendations of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Coast Guard to prepare for sailings when they resume.
Here is an overview of the new health and safety protocols being implemented by AQSC.