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Friday,  April 19, 2024 5:42 PM 

“Financially unsustainable”: American Queen Voyages on why it closed; TICO posts guidance


“Financially unsustainable”: American Queen Voyages on why it closed; TICO posts guidance
(American Queen Voyages)
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and DailyXtra.ca. Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

American Queen Voyages (AQV) has released a statement on why it decided to cease operations.

“Despite great efforts by our team, crew and partners, American Queen Voyages unfortunately has been unable to rebound from the effects of the pandemic,” the company wrote in a message posted to its website

“The overnight cruise industry was especially affected by changes in travel preferences and, as a result, AQV has become financially unsustainable.”

As first reported on Tuesday (Feb. 20), AQV has cancelled all future cruises, according to a pre-recorded message that was left on the company’s reservation line. 

“We are deeply proud of our crew and the outstanding travel experiences and service we have provided to our guests,” writes the cruise line, which is owned by the Hornblower Group, on its website. “As we reflect on the journey we have shared over the years, we are filled with gratitude for the privilege of serving our guests, partners and agents and for being part of our incredible local communities.”

READ MORE: American Queen Voyages shuts down, cancels future cruises

“It has been an honour to bring joy to so many lives, and we are deeply touched by the relationships we have formed and the memorable experiences we have created.”

The company goes on to say how it regrets any inconvenience the decision causes. “Our goal is to ensure a smooth process for all AQV stakeholders,” the company said.

Refunds available 

American Queen Voyages has released a three-step process for consumers to follow to receive refunds from Argo Surety.

Passengers can find more information at www.aqvinfo.com or https://aqvrefunds.com (the websites appear to be offline at times).

None of AQV’s ships were sailing at the time of the closure, reports say.

Adam Peakes, president of the Hornblower Group, said it plans to "sell the company, or, if a sale cannot be achieved, its operations will be wound down,” USA Today reported.

Peakes told the news outlet that the decision to close “was not made lightly.”

PAX has reached out to the company for further comment.

The backstory 

The news comes after several major travel trade groups suspended sales of American Queen Voyages in January due to problems related to commission payments and customer service.

Cancellations at the Fort Lauderdale, FL-based cruise line, which specialized in U.S.-based river cruises, have taken place in recent weeks.

The line cancelled three sailings that were set to take place on the Mississippi River this month, attributing the changes to an extended layup schedule.

There’s also been executive changes. In October 2023, AQV let go of its president, Cindy D'Aoust, who was just one year into the job.

There have been signs of a restructuring. Last year, in June, AQV announced that it would not return to the Great Lakes and sell two of its vessels: Ocean Navigator and Ocean Voyager.

At the time, the company said the move was part of a strategic decision to refocus its business on river cruises, 

TICO posts guidance

The Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO), meanwhile, has released detailed guidance for Ontario-based consumers. 

As it is not known how long the Argo Surety consumer claims process will take or what the level of reimbursement may be, TICO is advising consumers to file a claim with the Ontario Travel Industry Compensation Fund at the same time to avoid missing the claim filing deadline of Aug. 21, 2024.

Only those who purchased AQV travel services from a TICO-registered travel agency or website and did not receive their cruise due to the closure of the company may file a claim with the Compensation Fund for reimbursement, TICO says.

Payments for services like air fare, ground transportation and hotels are not eligible for reimbursement from the Compensation Fund, the association notes.

“Ontario legislation requires claimants to explore all possible options for reimbursement as part of the claims process,” TICO says.

To review TICO’s complete advisory and guidance on AQV’s closure, click here. 


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