Cindy D’Aoust, the newly-appointed president of American Queen Voyages (AQV), part of the Hornblower Group, is leaning into four decades of travel industry experience as she begins her tenure at the helm of the U.S.-based cruise line. D’Aoust’s immediate priorities are to "build upon the strong foundation of AQV with a focus on people, prestige and ports."
Building meaningful relationships with travel advisors, guests and employees has always been a priority for D’Aoust. She attributes her past success to learning and listening to these key audiences. “One thing I have learned during my time in travel is the importance of the travel advisor,” said D’Aoust. “Travel professionals are the essential resource for our guests to discover the perfect itinerary and vessel, and at American Queen Voyages it will always be my priority to listen to our travel agent network and build strong, lasting relationships with our cruise travel partners.”
D’Aoust is also placing a greater emphasis on guest feedback. In the immediate future, the company plans to work with travel partners to take a deeper dive into guest preferences and strategically plan accordingly for future sailings.
Working in the cruise industry, D’Aoust learned first-hand about the value of a strong, positive image and reputation. Her goal at American Queen Voyages includes elevating the company’s image through a series of luxury-level upgrades to service, product enhancements and exclusive itinerary offerings.
To note, D’Aoust has announced upgrade enhancements planned for AQV’s American Duchess vessel. A purposely-built boutique paddlewheeler holding only 166 guests debuting in 2017, D’Aoust wants to see American Duchess become a symbol of prestige on America’s rivers. The upgrades will incorporate elevated onboard services and a dedicated shore enrichment program specific to the vessel, along with re-imagined itineraries.
Built from an existing hull of a retired casino boat, the American Duchess has deep ties to the Mighty Mississippi and will be ready to set sail for the 2024 season with additional enhancements and updates announced over the coming months. Additionally, with a nod to the priority on increased communication, the American Queen Voyages leadership team is assembling an American Duchess-specific advising task force of travel partners, advisors, and hospitality industry experts to prioritize feedback in order to deliver an immersive, dynamic experience for every guest.
These upgrades are part of a larger strategy to further enhance the American Queen Voyages travel experiences. The American Duchess will sail the first half of 2023 before her extended layup begins in June 2023.
The economic impact for each port visited by American Queen Voyages sailings is an average of $135 per person, per day. Guests and crew disembark at destinations and spend money in local stores, pharmacies, restaurants, bars and more. The cruise line brings this economic influx to a variety of less-traveled destinations along America’s waterways. D’Aoust plans to identify new and exciting additions and extensions to AQV’s cruise itineraries which will bring additional revenue to new port locations while also offering guests new, unique experiences.
“One of the amazing opportunities we have at AQV is to help our guests discover the beauty, history and people of America—both in major cities and smaller towns,” said D’Aoust. “Our strategy will incorporate thoughtful and deliberate ways to bring a positive economic impact to the American ports American Queen Voyages serves.”
Prior to becoming American Queen Voyages president, D’Aoust served as president of Hospitality for Cape Resorts Management Company and global president and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
To learn more, visit www.aqvoyages.com.