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Company that brought cruise ships to Escanaba closing its doors

Brian Rowell Daily Press The last American Queen Voyages cruise ship to dock in Escanaba — the Ocean Voyager — is shown in this Oct. 2, 2023 photo. American Queen Voyages has announced that it will be closing its doors.

ESCANABA — The company that docked cruise ships in Escanaba last summer is closing its doors. American Queen Voyages said it is shutting down because it has been “unable to rebound from the effects of the pandemic.”

Throughout the summer of 2023, the Ocean Navigator and Ocean Voyager docked in Escanaba a total of 28 times summer and fall. Each ship had the capacity for about 200 passengers. The cruise line’s 28 visits was initially projected to have an economic impact of $1.25 million to the Escanaba area.

The first cruise ship to dock in Escanaba — the Ocean Navigator — arrived at North Shore Marine Terminal & Logistics Dock on May 14, 2023, Mothers Day. Passengers and crew were greeted by city officials, members of the community and the Escanaba City Band. During a welcome ceremony the Ocean Navigator’s captain was given the key to the city. When passengers left the ship they were given a gift bag put together by local businesses and the Delta County Chamber of Commerce.

The cruise ship’s buses became a familiar sight over the summer as they took passengers to various destinations in the area.

Later in the summer, American Queen Voyages announced it would be discontinuing its Great Lakes cruise and selling its two Great Lake cruise ships — the Ocean Navigator and Ocean Voyager. The company cited maintenance costs for the ships when they could only be in use for part of the year. At the time of the announcement, American Queen Voyages said the company was going to focus on river cruises.

The cruise ships would not be returning to Escanaba. The last cruise ship docked in Escanaba Oct. 2, 2023.

The company has now decided to end all its operations. The company posted a statement concerning its closure:

“American Queen Voyages has made the difficult decision to shut down.

“Despite great efforts by our team, crew and partners, American Queen Voyages (AQV) unfortunately has been unable to rebound from the effects of the pandemic. The overnight cruise industry was especially affected by changes in travel preferences and, as a result, AQV has become financially unsustainable.

“We are therefore shutting down the business, and all future AQV cruises have been cancelled.

“We are deeply proud of our crew and the outstanding travel experiences and service we have provided to our guests. 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.

“It has been an honor 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.

“We sincerely regret any inconvenience this decision causes. Our goal is to ensure a smooth process for all AQV stakeholders.

The company is offering refunds to customers.

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