River cruising picks up steam
March 19, 2013
traffic may soon be getting a little heavier on the U.S. inland waters.
American Cruise Lines (ACL) has another
riverboat under way, and American Queen
Steamboat Co. is also considering adding to its fleet.
last week at Cruise Shipping Miami — a major trade show in the global cruise
business, American Queen CEO John Waggoner told a session on river cruising that it “Looks like we’re shaping up to have a wildly successful 2013.”
He later told WorkBoat that he “absolutely”
plans to expand the fleet and an announcement along those lines could come
within months. The addition likely would be “existing hardware,” similar to the refurb they did on the American Queen, rather than a
purchased the American Queen for
$15.5 million from the Maritime Administration, which took possession of her
after MajesticAmerica Lines shut down in 2008. Waggoner said they’ve put a total of $9 million into refurbishing the boat that was launched in 1995.
he was a one-boat operation at present, Waggoner told the session at the Miami Beach
Convention Center, “Hopefully, when I come back here in four or five years, I
can tell you now we have six or seven” passenger vessels.
436-passenger American Queen and
ACL’s 150-passenger newbuild Queen of the
Mississippi marked the return last year of regular overnight cruising to the inland
the past five years demand for river cruises has risen 10 percent compared to 7
percent annual growth for cruising overall, according to the Cruise
Lines International Association (CLIA), an industry trade group.
Americans are fueling growth at home and abroad, and U.S. operators are
seeing more interest from abroad for river, coastal and other cruises on U.S.-flag vessels.
Un-Cruise Adventures, for example,
just announced filling a newly created business development director’s job that
will concentrate on the southern U.S. as well as all of Latin America.
Bookings, especially from places such as Germany, the U.K. and Australia, have picked up
the past couple of years “from a little drip to a little trickle to a little
stream,” said ACL CEO Charles A. Robertson, who also was at the trade show in Miami.
280'x54'x8' Hull 104 is being built
at Robertson’s Chesapeake Shipbuilding
Corp., Salisbury, Md., and scheduled for delivery in 2014.
will look very much like the Queen of the Mississippi,” Robertson said, but it will be 20' longer and have a few more
staterooms. Details on the riverboat’s name and itineraries — most likely the
inland rivers — are expected in May.
2013, he said, will be “another record year for us by a lot.”