UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WJMN) – Great Lakes Tourism will have one less option in 2024 as American Queen Voyages (AQV), part of Hornblower Group, announced changes to its operations. AQV will not return to the Great Lakes and plans to sell its Ocean Navigator and Ocean Voyager vessels.
American Queen Voyages President, Cindy D’Aoust responded to our questions via email about what led to the decision and what if any role did geography plan into AQV’s decision.
“Bookings for the Great Lakes cruises have been strong. Our itineraries have been well received by our guests. The positive feedback has centered on being able to visit all 5 lakes without ever having to unpack a bag. Geography figured into the decision in the off-season. We purchased the twin ships Ocean Navigator and Ocean Voyager with the hope for a 12-month cruise schedule. While both vessels have done extremely well in the Great Lakes, their extended off-season operational costs outweigh the benefits to achieve our overall business goals. With that in mind, we have made the decision to turn our focus to our river and Alaska voyages and are continuing to improve our offerings on those itineraries for 2024 and 2025 sailings.”American Queen Voyages President, Cindy D’Aoust
We then asked how the sale of the vessels will support AQV’s operations?
“We determined that selling the vessels and focusing on our river and Alaska product would be the best business decision for us. We are excited to put the additional resources to improving our experiences on our river vessels including new three- and four-day cruises for time-pressed travelers, Experiential Voyages such as food- and wine-themed cruises, new shore excursions and more. Additionally, we are thrilled to continue to offer our guests our unique small ship expeditions in Alaska that deliver a transformational experience for guests. This cruise offers the best of both worlds allowing for explorations of the Alaskan wilderness while being in a comfortable, all-inclusive environment. Ocean Victory is a modern, environmentally friendly, purpose-built expedition ship that also offers a spa, swimming pool, hot tubs, and alternative dining options.”American Queen Voyages President, Cindy D’Aoust
D’Aoust wrote to us that it is premature to speculate on potential buyers of the vessels as the announcement was only made this week.
The Ocean Navigator Docked in Marquette for the first time in June of 2022. It docked for the final time in Houghton on June 22, 2023.