Tag: City Cruises

City Cruises acquired by Hornblower

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.

City Cruises acquired by Hornblower
City Cruises has been bought by dining and excursion cruise operator
Hornblower UK Holdings, part of the Hornblower Group,
a San Francisco-based dining and excursion cruise operator.

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.

City Cruises acquires YorkBoat

River Thames sightseeing operator City Cruises has expanded with the acquisition of York River Boat Cruises (YorkBoat) from Chester Boat Company for £2.5m.

The acquisition adds to City Cruises’ existing portfolio that includes its main London River Thames operation, and City Cruises Poole, based in Dorset. The enlarged company will now operate 25 boats offering a wider choice of river cruise products for tour operators, group travel organisers and travel agents.

City Cruises York
City Cruises has acquired YorkBoat, adding to its existing operations in London and Poole

General manager of York River Boat Cruises, Jo Dykes, who has been with the company for more than 20 years, will remain in position and oversee the company’s transition to become City Cruises York.

Kyle Haughton, managing director of City Cruises, says: “Our objective is to grow the business beyond London and the new acquisition is a step towards achieving this. There are significant opportunities to work with the trade in York and the success we’ve had packaging attractions with cruises is something we want to develop there too.”

Brian Clarke, owner and managing director of Chester Boat Company, says: “It’s been a fantastic opportunity over the last ten years using my wealth of experience to develop the business. It is with great pleasure that it can now be passed on to a larger operator that can take this business to its next level.”

The expansion adds to City Cruises’ recent successes that has seen overall revenues for 2016/2017 increase by 6% year-on-year. Contributing factors include a new private hire service that delivered 168 private hires in 2016-17, generating a 17% increase in revenue. Revenue from Showboat sailings on the Thames increased 16% with revenue from afternoon tea cruises increasing by 10%. Increasing the frequency of the popular ‘Jazz Cruise’ to every Friday delivered a revenue increase of 117%. At the same time, a major £2.4m refurbishment of the City Alpha on the Thames and the launch of a third ThamesJet boat has brought an improved London product.

City Cruises York will continue to operate sightseeing cruises from the two existing boarding points along the River Ouse: King’s Staith and Lendal Bridge. The company says the product will be developed to offer a similar schedule to London. The new cruising options will include the early evening Sundowner as well as Lunch and Dinner Cruises. York will also operate the ‘Sail with Santa Cruise’ and ‘Christmas Night Cruises’ throughout the festive season.

For more information, go to www.yorkboat.co.uk