This Week in Cruise: AQV's Ships Acquired; Viking Files IPO

On the new ship front, Aurora Expeditions will welcome a new expedition ship, Douglas Mawson, to its fleet in late 2025. The ship’s inaugural season will also mark the line’s return to East Antarctica for the first time in 15 years.

Several existing ships are expected to soon have a new home, pending final U.S. bankruptcy court approval. At a court auction of American Queen Voyages’ river vessels (as part of the Hornblower Holdings’ Chapter 11 case and Hornblower's cessation of AQV operations), American Cruise Lines was the successful bidder at $6.3 million for American Queen, American Duchess, American Countess and American Empressas well as AQV's intellectual property.

Separately, John Waggoner, AQV's founder, was the high bidder for AQV's two Bahamas-flagged coastal vessels,Ocean Voyager and Ocean Navigator. The successful bid for each was under $1 million. Those ships have sailed Great Lakes coastal cruises in recent years. 

In financial news, Viking filed an IPO prospectus that showed a $1.86 billion loss in 2023, according to maritime industry source Seatrade Cruise News. Revenues improved from $3.2 billion in 2022 to $4.7 billion in 2023. Chairman Torstein Hagen also said that direct marketing to consumers was a major factor in driving the majority (more than 50 percent) of Viking’s bookings last year. Viking has applied to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol VIK.

Princess Cruises and Brightline, Florida’s modern, high-speed rail service, have unveiled a robust, new “Rail and Sail” program that offers transportation and luggage express service for guests sailing from Florida ports. Separately, Travel Agent was aboard the new Sun Princess recently and our firsthand report focuses on five facets of the ship. 

Princess Cruises and Brightline have formed a partnership in Florida.
Last week, Princess Cruises and Brightline announced a new "Rail and Sail" partnership and showed a newly "wrapped" Brightline train with Princess imagery and messaging at Brightline's Orlando station.  (Photo by Brightline)

Seatrade Cruise Global Week

In Miami Beach, FL, Seatrade Cruise Global, the annual maritime/cruise conference, kicks off Tuesday morning and runs throughout the week at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Travel Agent is already on site talking with cruise executives and will cover the cruise industry's annual “State of the Industry” outlook. Stay tuned for updates. 

On Sunday, Holland America Line kicked off Seatrade week with a pre-conference event aboard Nieuw Statendam at Port Everglades. Gus Antorcha, the line’s president, and other Holland America executives revealed that the line is expanding its Global Fresh Fish Program by becoming the first global cruise line to receive both the Marine Stewardship Council and Aquaculture Stewardship Council certifications for sustainable and responsible seafood.

"Our guests care about the quality and sustainability of the fresh fish we serve, and so do we,” says Gus Antorcha, Holland America's president. “These certifications build on our commitment of bringing regionally inspired fresh seafood dishes from port to plate in 48 hours." All 11 ships in the Holland America fleet are now Chain of Custody certified to serve Marine Stewardship Council and Aquaculture Stewardship Council certified and labeled seafood. A full roll-out will start across five Holland America Line ships in May 2024, and then be extended to other ships, too. 

More Cruise News

Oceania Cruises announced that Giada De Laurentiis, a renowned Italian-American chef, author, restaurateur and Emmy award-winning food personality has become its new brand and culinary ambassador. She’ll also co-chair the line's new Culinary Advisory Board alongside renowned chef Jacques Pépin. 

Seabourn has unveiled The Collection,” a selection of 2025 Mediterranean region voyages by Seabourn Venture, according to sister publication, Luxury Travel Advisor. What’s different is that these cruises won’t feature expedition outings but rather special interest events and experiences including access to private cultural events, fine dining at wineries and tickets to tennis tournaments in select marquee ports.

In the Caribbean region, Star Clippers' has chosen Grenada as its newest homeport. On the sustainability side, boutique luxury Ponant is partnering with startup Farwind Energy of Nantes, France, to develop innovative solutions for ship refueling with renewable hydrogen. And, in a unique partnership, Holland America Line and Audible are joining forces to create a new co-branded virtual book club. The new collaboration also includes destination-focused playlist collections and free in-room content.

AmaWaterways extended its pre- or post-cruise “Complimentary Land Package” offer on select 2024 and 2025 European itineraries. Now available for new reservations made through June 30, 2024, the offer provides river cruise guests a choice of 20 complimentary two-, three- or four-night land package extensions. 

Seeing a 63 percent increase in demand, Venture Ashore has unveiled 200 new shore excursions for cruise guests in 2024 across the globe.

Related Stories

On Site: 5 Facets We Loved From Our First Look at Sun Princess

Celestyal Adds Eight 2025 Sailings Due to Increased Demand

Oceania Cruises to Offer Free Pre-Cruise Hotel Stays

Windstar Cruises Announces First-Ever “Mystery Cruise”