The pandemic continues to create economic challenges for the tourism and hospitality industry, including the riverboat cruise ships that ply the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.
New Albany-based American Queen Steamboat Co. has notified the state that it may need to lay off as many as 250 employees who work on the American Queen and American Empress cruise ships.
The ships cruise up and down the rivers on multi-day tours and stop at various ports-of-call.
While the American Queen is based in the Midwest, the Empress operates in the Pacific Northwest, traveling the Columbia and Snake Rivers. But the operation is headquartered in Indiana.
The company says it expects the first permanent layoffs to occur in September.
The steamboat company website indicates it will extend its suspension of the Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee River tours through the end of August, as it awaits guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC its first-ever “no sail” order in mid-March, impacting ocean and river cruise ships.
AQSC says it is implementing a phased-in approach to its operations resuming on the Mississippi River and will announce updates to its schedule in September.