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John Waggoner is founder, chairman and CEO of American Queen Steamboat Company(AQSC), a leader in U.S. river cruising based in New Albany, Ind. Founded in 2011, the company’s fleet of U.S. flagged riverboats sail America’s heartland and the Pacific Northwest on itineraries from eight to 23 days. Ushering in a renaissance of travel on U.S. rivers with an all-American crew, Waggoner and his team have earned multiple accolades for the company’s high level of service, gourmet cuisine and authentically delivered shore excursions.
In January 2019, Waggoner led the American Queen Steamboat Company’s acquisition of Victory Cruise Lines, including M/V Victory I and M/V Victory II, expanding the company’s portfolio to include award-winning, small ship cruising on the Great Lakes and Canada.
American Queen Steamboat Company was founded with the purchase of its flagship vessel, American Queen, offering authentic and timeless experiences inspired by the palatial Mississippi steamboats of the Mark Twain era. In April 2014, AQSC christened American Empress to sailthe Pacific Northwest with the same opulence and grandeur. American Duchess, the firstpurpose-built, boutique-style riverboat set sail in August 2017. The new American Countess, currently under construction in Louisiana, will debut in 2020, joining the American Queen and American Duchess on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Under Waggoner’s leadership, American Queen Steamboat Company has seen tremendous growth, climbing to 1200 employees, andexpanding to seven vessels.
Prior to founding AQSC, Waggoner served as Director of Marine Operations at Hornblower Cruises and Events from 1989-1994. Waggoner and his partner founded Hornblower Marine Services in 1994, which was later renamed HMS Global Maritime. Waggoner cites one of hisgreatest career accomplishments was founding HMS and watching the company grow from one employee to over 1200, with gross revenues of over $150 million annually.
Waggoner received a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Biology from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. He was nominated Outstanding MBA of the Year and selected by his peers as the MBA with the highest stress tolerance.