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Avalon enters the U.S. river cruise market in 2013

LITTLETON, Colorado — Avalon Waterways will offer river cruises in the United States for the first time in 2013 onboard the Victorian-style paddlewheel steamboat the American Queen.

Up to 40 Avalon slots will be available on each of two U.S. itineraries on the American Queen: the 12-day America’s Heartland: From Music City to the Big Easy and the 11-day Fall Foliage Spectacular: From the Windy City to the Twin Cities.

“Current sales are looking very promising, especially with groups,” said Pamela Hoffee, vice president, product and operations for Globus Family of Brands, the parent company of Avalon Waterways.

Hoffee said that if sales warrant, additional space on the current dates might be added if available with American Queen or new itineraries in the reverse directions might be added.

An exclusive Avalon land program will precede each cruise. The America’s Heartland cruise will begin with two nights in Nashville, Tennessee, and a night in Memphis, Tennessee, before boarding the American Queen at Memphis’ new Beale Street Landing.

The Fall Foliage Spectacular cruise will start with two nights in Chicago, followed by a stop at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, Illinois, on the way to St. Louis for embarkation on the American Queen.

An Avalon tour director will accompany the cruises and will lead exclusive land excursions that will feature a visit to the Natchez, Mississippi, home of Regina Charboneau, the chef for the American Queen, to enjoy Southern drinks and light fare, and a private excursion to Galena, Illinois, during a stop in Dubuque, Iowa.

Avalon guests will have the opportunity to book pre- and post-cruise land packages in Nashville, Memphis, New Orleans, St. Louis or Chicago.

Avalon is the first major European river cruise operator to partner with the American Queen.

“We have had great success partnering with top-of-the-line cruise ship companies on the Yangtze, the Nile and in the Galapagos Islands and look forward to our first-ever U.S. partnership,” said Patrick Clark, managing director of Avalon Waterways.