American Queen Voyages (AQV) ceased operations on Tuesday and filed for bankruptcy. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based company also announced the cancellation of all future cruises. 

An automated message from the company's reservation call center said, “American Queen Voyages has made the difficult decision to shut down and all future cruises have been canceled. Guests and customers should expect to be fully refunded for canceled cruises.”

The message referred recipients to for further details. The website stated, "Despite great efforts by our team, crew and partners, American Queen Voyages unfortunately has been unable to rebound from the effects of the pandemic."

AQV attributed the closure to changes in travel preferences affecting the overnight cruise industry, rendering the company financially unsustainable. 

Customers were directed to to initiate the refund process.

Travel Weekly reported that AQV employees were informed via email that their positions would be terminated at 5 p.m. local time on Feb. 20 across all locations, including Fort Lauderdale, Fla., New Orleans, and Vancouver, British Columbia. 

The announcement followed the cancellation of three season-opening sailings scheduled for later this month on the Mississippi River, attributed to an extended layup schedule.

WorkBoat has reached out to American Queen Voyages for comment.

AQV owns four paddlewheel overnight riverboat cruise vessels. The six-deck, 418'x89' American Queen is the largest steamboat in the fleet, built in Morgan City, La. at McDermott Shipyard in 1995, and refurbished in 2017. The American Duchess, a four-deck, 341'x98' vessel was built by Nichols Brothers Boat Builders in 2017 and refurbished in 2023. The American Countess, a 318’x79’ paddlewheeler was built in Houma, La. by Gulf Island Shipyard. These vessels offer capacities of 436, 166, and 246, respectively, and offer paddlewheel experiences along the Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee rivers. 

The only AQV riverboat that doesn’t operate on the Mississippi River is the American Empress, formerly known as the Empress of the North. The 360'x59'x12.5' diesel-electric paddlewheeler was built in 2002 by Nichols Brothers Boat Builders and refurbished in 2014. It navigates the Columbia and Snake rivers, accommodating 217 guests.

AQV announced last year that the cruise line would exit the Great Lakes market after the 2023 season and focus on river cruises. 

After the season ended in late November, AQV said it would sell the Ocean Navigator and Ocean Voyager coastal cruise ships.

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