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More Trouble for American Queen Voyages: Now Agents Are Boycotting It

Update:, Feb. 23, 2024 American Queen Voyages has ceased operations. Find out more about that here.

Even though American Queen Voyages’ small-boat, multi-day cruises on the waterways of the United States are well-reviewed by many of the customers who book them, choices by its management have not been as warmly received—and now the line in trouble.

Some of the most powerful travel advisors in the country are refusing to do business with it.

“We stopped selling American Queen Voyages in November 2023 and have not resumed sales to date due to service issues,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, told Travel Weekly in January.

Similar moves have been made by Signature Travel Network and Pleasant Holidays, among other travel-booking services. The latter had previously listed AQV as a trusted partner since 2012.

One advisor quoted in Travel Weekly complained about a deterioration in AQV’s customer relations, citing “lapses in communication, a mishandling of their pre-cruise package and travel documents not being issued until the very last minute (less than a week before their departure).”

In 2021, American Queen Voyages was renamed from American Queen Steamboat Co. following its acquisition by the Hornblower Group, which is better known for operating touristy, quick-hit ferries and short tours

Even before the acquisition, American Queen’s policies had developed a less-than-royal reputation among some travelers. In June of 2020, we noted that the company was refusing to issue refunds to passengers upon the rise of Covid-19, despite the fact that many of its customers were elderly and unable to travel during the most dire days of the pandemic.

And in 2019, our founder Arthur Frommer objected to a Mississippi River journey he took with American Queen, when guides hired by the company completely omitted the word “slavery” from historical tours of antebellum sites and pointedly blamed the North for causing the American Civil War. 

The current battles with American Queen are not historical or epidemiological, but financial. 

“Its back office is terrible,” says the blog Live and Let’s Fly. “American Queen Voyages is not paying commissions on such a massive scale that nearly every travel agency has stopped selling their product.”

Frommer’s reached out to representatives for AQV to find out what was being done about the boycott and ask what prospective customers should do in the meantime. We have yet to hear back.

Update: Representatives for American Queen Voyages e-mailed Frommer’s a response that was a slightly amended version of a comment that was previously issued to other news outlets: “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. As I am sure you can understand this is a very complex situation understand and we are working to address the situation as quickly as possible. We appreciate your patience and understanding.”