HMS Global Maritime, the parent company of American Queen Steamboat Company, said it will expand its recently acquired Victory Cruise Lines from the Great Lakes to the Eastern Seaboard, Mexico, and Alaska starting next year.
Speaking at Seatrade, John Waggoner, president and CEO said the deal, announced last November, closed in January.
After cancelling Victory’s planned Mexico expansion that was originally planned for this year, Waggoner said he instead is carrying out a renovation and refurbishment of Victory 1 and Victory 2 to bring them in line with American Queen’s vessels. That includes new linens, comforters and artwork as well as enclosing the rear deck restaurant and bar on Victory 1 (Victory 2 is already enclosed).
He said Victory will also take its sister line’s focus on “strong, immersive experiences” in the destinations it visits. It will also introduce regionally inspired menus as well as expand its ability to cater to various dietary needs and preferences of passengers.
Target customers are similar to American Queen, which he described as age 55+, couples and singles, river cruisers and escorted tour guests. He expect a similar mix of business, which currently includes 70% from agents, 20% groups and 10% international sales agents.
The seven-day Yucatan Peninsula cruises will begin and end in Cancun providing easy air access with affordable fares. Waggoner called the voyage a Mayan cultural immersion. Additionally, there are plans for cruises along the Eastern Seaboard, including fall foliage cruises and itineraries that will include southern ports such as Charleston. Finalized itineraries should announced in the next couple months. Currently, there is no information on its website.
Waggoner said Victory will also add a new ship, the Ocean Victory, hosting 200 passengers with 20 zodiacs. In this case it is chartering the vessel for 183 days per year. It will take delivery in Panama, and then offer repositioning cruises to San Diego and along the Pacific Coast before cruising Alaska for the 2021 season.
Voyages are all-inclusive, including meals, alcoholic drinks and shore excursions. Waggoner said the push to buy Victory Cruises came from current customers who liked its American Queen products and wanted to explore new places with the line. He said the separate brands are due in part to the fact that Victory’s ships are foreign flagged with foreign crew whereas American Queen features U.S. crews. Waggoner said there also may be additional acquisitions so a multi brand strategy like Carnival Corp & PLC makes sense.