Close to many customers’ homes, AQV’s Great Lakes cruises combine Canadian and U.S. stops

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Ideal for Canadians considering their first trip at this stage of the pandemic, AQV’s itineraries that mix Canadian and US ports, offer customers a way to rediscover travel without going too far.

AQV’s lake and ocean cruise ships, Ocean Voyager and Ocean Navigator, will cruise the Great Lakes this summer. Travelweek was lucky enough to board Ocean Voyager last week on the ship’s turnaround day in Toronto.

Aboard Ocean Voyager on June 17, 2022 are (left to right) Isis Ruiz, Commercial Director of AQV; captain Wojtek Ziockowski; and Michael Hicks, Senior Director of Marketing Communications for AQV

Ocean Voyager and Ocean Navigator joined the AQV fleet in early 2019, when AQV – then known as American Queen Steamboat Company – took over Victory Cruise Lines. At the time, the ships were M/V Victory I and M/V Victory II. The ship name changes were part of a fall 2021 rebrand, just after AQSC became AQV. In the meantime, AQV has invested more than 3 million US dollars in the modernization of the two vessels.

They are identical twin ships, with 202 passengers each, specially built for the canals and locks of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway. On board, passengers will find 101 suites and staterooms spread over five passenger decks, two restaurants and two lounges, including the Compass Lounge where conferences and entertainment take place.

For summer 2022, the two ships are sailing on 11-day itineraries between Chicago and Toronto, to ports such as Mackinac Island, MI, Sault Ste. Marie, MI, Manitoulin Island, Detroit, Cleveland, Niagara Falls and Toronto.

The cruises combine the ease, convenience and privacy of European river cruises with nearby ports, especially for customers in Ontario.

OCEAN TRAVEL ON BOARD

The day Travelweek boarded Ocean Voyager, passengers were enjoying a sunny (albeit windy) tour of Toronto before boarding.

In a smart move, especially in these pandemic times, the packages include a pre-cruise overnight stay (in Toronto, it’s the Marriott) with pre-cruise antigen testing.

Pre-cruise testing is still required by Canadian regulations, and it is part of AQV’s COVID-19 protocols.

“Passengers tell us that this gives them great peace of mind, and for many it is a decisive factor in sailing with us,” explains Isis Ruiz, Commercial Director of AQV.

Ocean Voyager and Ocean Navigator cruise packages also include hotel-to-ship ground transfers, unlimited sightseeing tours, unlimited drinks, open bars and lounges, dining, unlimited Wi-Fi and entertainment and daily enrichments live on board.

With AQV’s Summer of Discovery savings offer, guests can save up to $4,800 per stateroom on select 2022, 2023 and 2024 cruises, for bookings made by June 30, 2022.

Ruiz says AQV passengers tend to be over 60, mostly couples with a few solo travelers. The company also welcomes younger travelers and Ruiz says multi-generational groups are a growing market for AQV, citing a couple who recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a group trip for eight, with children and grandchildren. -children.

Close to many customers' homes, AQV's Great Lakes cruises combine Canadian and U.S. stops

RIVERS, LAKES, OCEANS AND EXPEDITIONS

As part of the 2021 rebranding, AQV has categorized its cruise product into three divisions: American Queen Voyages River, American Queen Voyages Lakes & Ocean and American Queen Voyages Expedition.

Ocean Voyager and Ocean Navigator are the flagships of American Queen Voyages Lakes & Ocean.

American Queen Voyages River, meanwhile, has the ships that started it all: AQV’s famous river cruise ships with their bright red paddle wheels. First came the namesake American-flagged Queen, the largest riverboat in the world. In 2014, American Empress joined the fleet and then, in 2017, American Duchess. And in March 2021, American Countess set sail.

The third division, American Queen Voyages Expedition, marks the brand’s entry into expedition cruising. Comprised of new 186-passenger ships, the Expedition Line is offering all-inclusive cruises to Alaska’s Inside Passage this season on the all-new Ocean Victory. Sister ship Ocean Discoverer is expected to be delivered in 2023.

You can find more information about the AQV here. And the cruise line travel agent portal is here.

The AQV is also keeping its travel advisor partners informed of an upcoming webinar, scheduled for Thursday. June 30, 2022 at 12 p.m. ET. The registration link is here.

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