It turns out that mergers and acquisitions in the cruise industry aren’t just for big cruise conglomerates. American Queen Steamboat Company has just announced a definitive agreement to acquire the Victory I and sister ship Victory II from Sunstone Ships, Inc., owners of the Victory Cruise Lines brand, which is currently marketing the two ships on Great Lakes cruises, Canada/New England cruises, Cuba cruises and voyages to Mexico’s Yucatan. The deal isn’t anticipated to close until January 2019 so don’t expect any changes until then. After all, it’s a big step for fast-growing American Queen Steamboat Company. The 5,000-ton, 300-foot-long, 202-guest Victory I and Victory II are both identical and details of upcoming operations on both of vessels will be announced in the coming months.
“We are pleased to purchase the Victory I and Victory II which will fuel the continued success and growth of American Queen Steamboat Company,” said American Queen Steamboat Company Chairman and CEO John Waggoner. “We look forward to working closely with Victory Cruise Lines’ new and existing travel partners. These vessels enable us to provide guests with more diverse cruising options particularly in the Great Lakes, a region that our customers have been requesting for years.”
The Victory I and Victory II will join the American Queen Steamboat Company fleet under the Victory Cruise Lines name, alongside the flagship 436-guest American Queen and 166-guest boutique paddlewheeler American Duchess sailing the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers and the 224-guest American Empress in the Pacific Northwest. The new 245-guest American Countess, currently under construction in Louisiana, will debut in 2020.
“Victory Cruise Lines has established itself as the leading cruise line on the Great Lakes, and demand for our cruises for 2019 is already 35% grater than this year. American Queen Steamboat Company’s established and strong product and brand is well-suited to take the Victory vessels and Victory Cruise Lines brand forward creating one of the largest North American Great Lakes and U.S. River cruising companies in the country,” said Victory Cruise Lines President and CEO Hans Lagerweij. Also, Victory has a new ship on order, the 180-guest Ocean Victory for delivery in 2021, which is designed for worldwide expedition cruises, further expanding the reach of small ship cruising.
So, what does all this mean for you? It means that you can choose from cruises in America on the Great Lakes, Pacific Northwest, America’s Heartland, Canada/New England as well as journeys to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and Cuba all from the same company, with the promise of expedition cruising yet to come. Coastal cruises, small ship cruises, American river cruises and expedition cruises will all be under the same umbrella. And if the rave reviews of American Queen Steamboat Company and Victory Cruise Lines are any indication, you’ll be able to do so in incomparable style as well!