American Queen Voyages ceases operations, cruises cancelled

Published 7:43 pm Tuesday, February 20, 2024

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American Queen Voyages, which operates river cruise boats that dock in Natchez, ceased all operations as of Tuesday and cancelled all future voyages.

The shutdown was made public via an outgoing message on the company’s reservation call line and in messages to employees.

“American Queen Voyages has made the difficult decision to shut down and all future cruises have been cancelled. Guests and customers should expect to be fully refunded for cancelled cruises,” the reservation line message states.

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The shutdown comes just days after a spokesperson said the company had suspended its cruises in the lower Mississippi River but expected to resume the cruises in March.

“We just heard this news,” Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson said Tuesday evening. “We are of course saddened by it.”

American Queen Voyages is one of three cruise companies which docks in Natchez and Vidalia, La. American Queen Voyages operates the American Queen and the American Countess, both of which have been docking in Natchez during the past year, and the American Duchess on the Mississippi River. The American Queen is the largest paddlewheel steamboat ever built and has long docked in Natchez.

According to news reports, employees on the fleet and in the Fort Lauderdale headquarters were told their terminations were effective 5 p.m. local time on Tuesday. Employees were told all business operations were ceasing “due to unfortunate business circumstances and an inability to obtain sufficient capital at a commercially reasonable rate to continue operations.”

Recently, some of the travel agencies that book cruises have suspended sales of American Queen Voyages cruises over service issues, according to a story online at Travel Weekly. Among those are Signature Travel Network, Pleasant Holidays and AAA Travel, the website reports. Virtuoso also removed American Queen Voyages from its preferred supplier list.

An American Queen spokesperson issued an apology, according to the website’s story. “We acknowledge and apologize for the issues. American Queen Voyages deeply values all of our travel agent partners and are taking all matters very seriously. We are working to address the situation as quickly as possible,” the spokesperson said. A spokesperson said the issues were financial in nature, but were being resolved.

Gibson said he remains optimistic that the American Queen boats will return. “We are so grateful to American Queen for all of the years they supported Natchez and we are optimistic that there will be eventually a transition to another owner,” he said. “I’m hopeful this will be a temporary lapse in their ability to bring tourists to Natchez.”

American Cruise Lines and Viking Cruises also dock in Natchez. Gibson said Natchez typically sees 4 to 6 boats docking per week, at least 40 weeks of the year. He also said while other boats have been filled to capacity, the American Queen boats have not been full in recent months.

“I can tell you that this morning had a great conversation with Charlie Roberston who is CEO of American Cruise Lines who shared with me that they are doing so well they have decided to bring more ships to the Mississippi River,” Gibson said. “Viking has also indicated the same. And considering that these boats carry hundreds of people arriving each week for more than 40 weeks out of the year, that continues to bode well for our local economy.”

This is a developing story and more information on the closures will be released as it is collected. According to the company’s recorded message, customers in need of a refund may begin the process by visiting; however, as of Tuesday night, the url leads to an “403 -Forbidden: Access is Denied” message.