American Queen Steamboat Company has announced that its guests will no longer be required to wear masks onboard or receive pre-cruise testing. The unrestricted hop-on hop-off shore excursions begin with all Mississippi, Ohio and Cumberland river sailings embarking after July 1, the cruise line said.
According to a press release, this policy update is “a result of the cruise line’s vaccination requirement for both guests and crew, first announced in February 2021, making American Queen Steamboat Company the first and only fully vaccinated U.S. river cruise line.”
To celebrate these changes, the company said that it is rolling out the Freedom sale, with bonus savings of up to $2,000 on select 2022 bookings made by Aug. 31, 2021.
“I want to thank our tireless crew, loyal guests, valued travel advisors and supportive port partners for their efforts as we have navigated this unique time in travel together,” said Shawn Bierdz, president of the cruise line.
“Thanks to their unwavering commitment, we have been able to evolve our policies to further deliver an authentic river cruise experience without confusing restrictions,” he added.
The American Countess and American Duchess began sailing in March under SafeCruise protocols, calling on ports including New Orleans, Memphis, Louisville, and Pittsburgh.
The American Empress, sailing the Pacific Northwest on the Columbia and Snake rivers, welcomed her first guests as the first 100-percent vaccinated U.S. riverboat on June 14. The American Empress guests will continue to participate in a PCR test at the pre-cruise hotel per Washington state guidelines, the cruise line said.
“As we re-introduce our hop-on hop-off tours, it is exciting for guests to once again take in the cafés of Natchez, visit the antique shops of Cape Girardeau and stroll the Cincinnati waterfront ‘bubble-free’,” noted Kari Tarnowski, senior vice president of marketing, American Queen Steamboat Company.
In order to adhere to the 100-percent vaccination policy onboard, the cruise line said that all guests must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination by uploading an image of their vaccination card prior to the pre-cruise hotel check-in. Guests who fail to provide proof will be denied boarding and subject to full cancellation penalties, American Queen Steamboat Company wrote.
Masks are no longer required onboard after embarkation, but a face covering must be worn during boarding and onshore excursion motorcoaches per CDC transportation guidelines.
The SafeCruise health and safety procedures will continue throughout the entire cruise experience, according to the cruise line. These include pre-boarding, boarding and onboard processes to enhance health and safety. Guidance may change at any time without notice based on local regulations.
The Freedom sale is also applicable to Victory Cruise Lines’ 2022 itineraries, the company said. Charting new routes in addition to returning favorites, Victory Cruise Lines guests will travel to “some of North America’s most desirable destinations.”
Guests who book by Aug. 31, 2021, can maximize savings and have up to $2,000 off per stateroom on select 2022 Victory Cruise Lines itineraries, including the Ocean Victory and its inaugural season in Alaska, as well as new itineraries to Mexico and the Yucatán Peninsula and sailings along the U.S. southeastern seaboard.