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New AQV President D'Aoust announces American Duchess upgrade

Cindy D'Aoust plans AQV enhancements including an upgrade to boutique paddlewheeler American Duchess, at right
President Cindy D'Aoust aims to elevate American Queen Voyages with luxury upgrades including enhancements to make boutique paddlewheeler American Duchess a 'symbol of prestige on America's rivers.'

The 166-passenger vessel, which debuted in 2017, will be getting elevated onboard services and a dedicated shore enrichment program specific to the vessel, along with re-imagined itineraries.

Advisory task force

An American Duchess-specific advisory task force of travel partners, agents and hospitality experts is being assmbled.

The vessel will sail the first half of 2023 before an extended layup begins in June, with the enhancements to debut in 2024.  

Specifics will be announced in the coming months.

Brand enhancement strategy

The American Duchess work is part of the newly appointed D'Aoust's brand enhancement strategy.

'American Queen Voyages is an established, storied cruise line and brand known for exemplary service and experiences,' she said. 'The opportunity moving forward is to further strengthen the reputation and relationships to continue on a growth trajectory.'

Travel advisors

Stressing the importance of travel advisors, D'Aoust called them 'the essential resource for our guests to discover the perfect itinerary and vessel,' adding: 'It will always be my priority to listen to our travel agent network and build strong, lasting relationships with our cruise travel partners.'

D'Aoust also said she's welcoming feedback from crew and staff to 'ensure their suggestions are heard so we can continue to offer elevated service aboard our vessels.'

Greater economic impact for destinations and new ports

According to AQV, the economic impact of its port visits averages $135 per person, per day, a meaningful contribution to many of the smaller destinations visited. 

D’Aoust plans to identify additions and extensions of itineraries to generate revenue at new ports while also offering travelers new, unique experiences.

'One of the amazing opportunities we have at AQV is to help our guests discover the beauty, history and people of America — both in major cities and smaller towns,' D'Aoust said. 'Our strategy will incorporate thoughtful and deliberate ways to bring a positive economic impact to the American ports American Queen Voyages serves.'


AQV and Madison officials shake on the new agreement


Madison, Indiana agreement and landing enhancements

Earlier this week, Madison, Indiana and the line inked a five-year agreement that includes updates and enhancements to the city's landing facility and gives AQV priority docking.

AQV will make an initial $25,000 payment for exclusivity rights in 2023 and an additional $25,000 in 2024 with further payments through 2027. In return, the city will create a dedicated riverboat landing area and partner with Visit Madison Inc., the Madison Riverfront Development Committee and others to coordinate a more impactful welcome experience for the estimated 20,000 people who visit each year.

'This agreement is a vital part [of] Madison’s tourism industry, bringing in an estimated $250,000 in economic impact per year. We are grateful for this partnership and look forward to welcoming American Queen Voyages and their guests to Madison,' Mayor Bob Courtney said.

The agreement includes first rights to scheduled dates 24 months in advance while not excluding other companies from docking on other dates. It also guarantees AQV will visit Madison for a minimum of 10 days per calendar year beginning in 2023.