The Latest on the Former American Queen Voyages Ships

Following American Queen Voyages cessation of operations and subsequent Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in February of this year, its ships (and intellectual property) were put up for auction. American Cruise Lines, the largest operator on U.S. rivers, at that time acquired four of the ships: American Queen, American Duchess, American Countess and American Empress. John Waggoner, the founder of American Queens Voyages (previously American Queen Steamboat Company), was the successful high bidder on two other ships: the coastal Ocean Voyager and Ocean Navigator.

This week, it was revealed that Waggoner plans to revive Victory Cruise Lines, which merged with American Queen Steamboat Company to become American Queen Voyages. The vessels he acquired previously operated as Victory I and Victory II.

Ocean Voyager
Ocean Voyager (American Queen Voyages)

According to a report by Seatrade Cruise News, Waggoner intends to relaunch the again-named Victory I and Victory II in spring 2025 on the Great Lakes. The 190-passenger vessels will sail the five lakes with itineraries between Chicago and Toronto or Montréal, or round-trip Chicago. Victory I (Ocean Voyager) will receive $500,000 of cosmetic refurbishments, while $3 million will be invested into Victory II (Ocean Navigator), as it needs a new engine and control system, as well as fresh carpet and wallpaper.

Separately, American Cruise Lines announced it will be scrapping the 245-passenger American Countess and 166-passenger American Duchess. Furniture, artwork and some other odds and ends are being removed before the ships are recycled. Seatrade Cruise News adds that the line is still determining the futures of American Queen and American Empress. Regardless of the plans for these two ships, they will not be sailing in 2024 or 2025. It appears most likely that American Queen—the largest paddlewheeler every built—will no longer serve as a cruise vessel but may be donated and/or used as a museum/restaurant/entertainment venue/hotel.

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