River boat operator City Cruises has been bought by dining and excursion cruise operator Hornblower, a San Francisco-based dining and excursion cruise operator.
The acquisition, not previously reported on these pages, took place in November 2019 and is the first acquisition by Hornblower outside of North America.
A statement issued by the company said the sale will mean “greater investment opportunities for the City Cruises brand in 2020 and beyond.”
All staff have been retained. The previous owners and founders, Gary and Rita Beckwith OBE, are remaining as consultants for several months to assist with the transition.
Commenting, Gary Beckwith said: “We believe the sale of City Cruises to the Hornblower family will take the brand to the next level of success. We have been honoured to be at the helm of City Cruises and believe the business we started will further flourish and grow under the new ownership of Hornblower.”
Terry MacRae, CEO of the Hornblower parent in the US, said: “We are incredibly excited to acquire City Cruises which we believe to be the best leisure cruise operator in Europe today. We have long had the ambition to enter the European market and it makes perfect sense to start our journey in one of the most iconic cities in the world.”
City Cruises was founded in 1985 and now comprises operations on the River Thames, plus City Cruises York, City Cruises Poole, ThamesJet and R.S Hispaniola.
Hornblower Group has been operating for 35 years in the US and runs river cruises, harbour cruises, whale watching trips and ferries across North America including iconic trips to Alcatraz in San Francisco, The Statue of Liberty in New York and Niagara Falls in Canada.
In a statement the company said: “This announcement reaffirms our confidence in the marine hospitality sector, strengthened by continued investment to elevate the guest experience. In addition to expanding the company’s portfolio through mergers and acquisitions, over the past five years, Hornblower Cruises & Events has invested $50 million in guest experiences, innovation and technology, while adding new builds to the fleet alongside a programme of innovative fleet enhancements and upgrades in a drive to become even more guest-centric.”
With the completion of this acquisition, Hornblower Cruises & Events now operates a fleet of 157 vessels offering dining cruises, sightseeing, private charter, water taxi and ferry brands in 22 locations in the US, Canada, and now the UK serving 9.8 million guests each year.