New AQV Expedition Ship, Ocean Victory, Sets Sail in Alaska

American Queen Voyages (AQV) celebrated the debut of its first new expedition ship, the 186-passenger Ocean Victory, which departed Saturday on its inaugural cruise from Vancouver, BC

Through September, Ocean Victory, the seventh ship in AQV's fleet, will operate 12- and 13-day Alaska cruises between Vancouver and Sitka, Alaska. Itineraries will include a pre-cruise hotel stay in Vancouver or Sitka. Depending on itinerary, the ship will visit the following areas: Fiordland (Kynoch Inlet); Ketchikan; Misty Fjords National Monument; Wrangell/Stikine River Wilderness; Waterfall Coast/Baranof Wilderness; Petersburg/Le Conte Glacier; Tracy Arm/Endicott Glacier; and Kake/Frederick Sound/Five Finger

“Alaska is a unique destination that -- to even begin to understand its vastness -- demands immersion with an expedition experience,” said Shawn Bierdz, chief operating officer, American Queen Voyages. “Ocean Victory will deliver guests an intimate sailing experience that really allows them to become captivated by the destination’s many natural wonders."

Innovative Design

With an innovative "X-Bow" design, the vessel will sail less-traveled areas of Alaska’s Inside Passage. Cruise guests will head out with the ship's expedition team to explore via kayaks and Zodiacs. In addition, they'll view wildlife from sliding observation platforms, witness marine research by California Polytechnic State University students and chat with native Alaska leaders.

“As we celebrate the debut of Ocean Victory, I am inspired by our growth from a one paddlewheel cruise line, the American Queen, to a fleet of vessels this very day sailing Mississippi, Kentucky, Washington, Prince Edward Island and Quebec,” said John Waggoner, AQV's founder and chairman. “Today, we call on over 125 ports with seven vessels, employing over 670 teammates—far exceeding even the dreams of this boy of just one boat.”

The ship also offers many onboard creature comforts and exterior spaces that deliver outdoor views of "The Last Frontier." 

The top deck of the new Ocean Victory, American Queen Voyages' first expedition vessel.
The top deck of American Queen Voyages' new expedition ship, Ocean Victory, offers comfortable seating areas, an infinity pool and scenic views. (Photo by Michel Verdure and American Queen Voyages)

For this inaugural summer expedition season, AQV has partnered with Dr. Michelle Fournet, director of the Sound Science Research Collective. Ocean Victory will become an extension of the Collective's research lab. Fournet is an acoustic ecologist who's an expert in the communication between North Pacific humpback whales. Hydrophones will be used onboard the ship's Zodiacs to listen to whale voices in real-time. Guests will also learn about and participate in whale tracking. 

Highlights in Alaska

Ocean Victory's inaugural Alaska season program highlights include the Anan Creek Bear and Wildlife Observatory. Cruisers will travel by jet boat from Wrangell through the Eastern Passage to the Anan trailhead. Anan Creek is home to the largest salmon runs in Southeast Alaska, so it's a prime location for bears, bald eagles and harbor seals. At the observatory, guests will experience up-close views of the wildlife.

Another highlight is the historic Five Finger Lighthouse, located at the confluence of Southeast Alaska's Stephen’s Passage and Frederick Sound. The location is home to nesting seabirds, songbirds, bald eagles, sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, harbor porpoise, transient killer whales and humpback whales.

For an Indigenous Alaskan experience, AQV's guests will go ashore at Kake Tlingit Village. Local Tlingit residents will welcome them and encourage them to participate in tribal traditions. Just a short walk from the dock is the community hall, where guests will see a carving or weaving demonstration. Local residents will perform traditional songs and dances with guests joining in. Cruisers also will see the world’s largest one-tree totem pole.

In Petersburg, AK, Ocean Victory will dock beside Alaska’s largest home-based halibut fleet. Guests will explore this quaint town with its strong Norwegian heritage. 

Separately, along Baranof Island's eastern coast, aka Waterfall Coast, cruisers will head out to explore by kayak or Zodiac. This area has an almost hidden shoreline with tide pools and wildlife (seals and deer are sometimes spotted). 

For more information on American Queen Voyages, visit

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