Last updated: 07:42 PM ET, Thu July 23 2015

American Queen Cancels Upper Mississippi Cruises

Impacting Travel | Theresa Norton | July 23, 2015

American Queen Cancels Upper Mississippi Cruises

PHOTO: The American Queen steamboat can't sail on the Upper Mississippi River due to high water levels. (Courtesy of American Queen Steamboat Company)

American Queen Steamboat Company has abandoned scheduled cruises on the Upper Mississippi River because of high water levels due to recent heavy rains in the Midwest.

The American Queen paddlewheeler instead will remain on the Ohio River with Cincinnati as the turnaround port through Aug. 2.

The American Queen “will return to the regularly scheduled itineraries when conditions permit,” the company said in a statement. “The company executive team is in constant contact with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who guide traffic on U.S. inland waterways, to ensure the safety of guests and crew is the top priority.”

The situation is creating a problem for passengers booked on the July 26 cruise, which was to depart St. Paul and sail down to St. Louis. Travel agent Debi King, of DK Cruise & Travel in San Diego, booked that voyage as a fam trip, but had to shell out an additional $285 for flights from St. Paul to Cincinnati via Chicago.

“My complaint is for myself, because it’s frustrating, but I’m also thinking about the poor people on the boat now,” who will end up in Cincinnati instead of St. Paul, King said. “My reason for going on the fam trip is to find out how they treat their clients.”

American Queen is allowing passengers on the affected sailings to cancel without penalty in order to rebook on a space-available basis for any itinerary before year’s end. Each fare passenger that does not rebook and has remained on the current itinerary is offered a $750 future cruise credit. This credit may be combined with early booking savings.

King is concerned about the cost to booked passengers who made flight arrangements.

“This is costing every guest hundreds of dollars in new air costs, cancellation fees, etc. As a travel agent, this highly concerns me as I only want to work with companies that have integrity and follow through with their commitment,” King wrote in an email to TravelPulse.

She also noted this section in the ticket contract: “If the scheduled port of embarkation or final destination is changed, we will arrange transportation to the new port from the originally scheduled port.”

But American Queen said in its statement that it “does not compensate for air rearrangements arising from weather-related events; however, company staff are diligently working with travel agents and guests to provide rebooking options.”

King called the refusal to cover transportation costs a “blatant disregard of their contract terms and conditions.”

For more information on St. Paul, Cincinnati, St. Louis

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