John Waggoner

John Waggoner
John Waggoner, founder and CEO, American Queen Steamboat Company

For Entrepreneurial “Make It Happen” Vision

Earlier this year, John Waggoner, founder and CEO, American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC), stood in a Houma, LA, shipyard, eyeballing progress on a stripped, former gaming vessel, being rebuilt from the hull up as the new American Countess. Waggoner explained to reporters how a new section was being inserted mid-ship and how the paddlewheeler — with new interiors, new suites and new public spaces — would launch in spring 2020 on the Mississippi River

He’s an entrepreneur with the uncanny ability to dream up an idea, see the possibilities, weigh operational options, successfully secure financing and ultimately make things happen. Case in point? On that same day in Houma, Waggoner looked across the shipyard with a glimmer in his eye and a passion in his voice — pointing to two small-ship oceangoing Victory Cruise Lines vessels, recently purchased.  

After a major transformation, Victory I and Victory II now operate Great Lakes and Canada/New England voyages. Guests will find totally new interiors, a new alternative restaurant, new menus and new stateroom/suite features. Operated by AQSC as a separate brand, Victory Cruise Lines also has plans to sail the Eastern Seaboard and along Mexico’s Yucatan coast. 

Waggoner, also president and CEO of HMS Global Maritime, and AQSC’s David William Kelley, executive vice president, hotel operations and new construction, are broadening the horizon too. In 2021, they’ll launch Ocean Victory, a new Alaska product. 

John Waggoner

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