American Queen Steamboat Company’s President and COO Ted Sykes will depart the company at the end of the year. Sykes joined the river cruise line six years ago after the launch of its first boat, American Queen.
Since that time, the company has made significant strides, expanding to the Pacific Northwest with the American Empress on the Columbia and Snake Rivers in 2014 and launching the American Duchess, the first boutique paddle wheeler on the Mississippi River basin in 2017. The company also recently announced it will launch the American Countess in just over a year.
During his tenure, Sykes saw demand increase year upon year, with many voyages selling out months in advance. In fact, 2018 will conclude with the company’s most successfully season on record.
“I would like to thank Ted for all of his dedication and hard work in making American Queen Steamboat Company a premium product. We have reestablished overnight cruising on the American waterways and proven them as a worthy destination for both domestic and international guests,” John Waggoner, the company’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “The level of repeat customers we’re now seeing on our vessels is a testament to the quality experience that is being delivered.”
Some of the innovations to American Queen that Sykes is credited with include new itineraries that include the popular Mighty Mississippi voyages spanning from St. Paul to New Orleans as well as themed Christmas Market sailings that were traditionally only popular on European waterways.
“The past six years have been a wonderful experience as we have built the company and grown this market to have a real economic impact, showcasing destinations from Natchez to Red Wing,” said Sykes. “We have created a recognizable brand with well-defined attributes, have built a financially stable company and now have a well-rounded management team in place. It’s time for someone else to step in and take it from here.”