Acquisition of market-leading City Cruises signals confidence in European on-the-water business, introducing dining and sightseeing experiences in London, Poole and York
UK November 1, 2019 – Hornblower Cruises and Events, North America’s premier provider of water-based dining, sightseeing, private charter and transportation experiences, has completed its purchase of City Cruises, the UK’s biggest tour boat operator. This deal – the company’s fourth major investment in a year – represents another exciting milestone for Hornblower, extending its international footprint into the highly desirable UK market for first time. It also follows its recent Canadian expansion and purchase of Boston Harbor Cruises last month, further solidifying the company’s industry expertise and leadership in the segment, where it now offers unrivalled choice in America, Canada, and the UK, with an expansive portfolio of experiences available across 22 coveted destinations serving 9.8 million guests each year.
“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,” commented Terry MacRae, CEO of Hornblower. “Under the expert stewardship of Gary and Rita Beckwith, City Cruises has earned an enviable reputation and we are honored to build on their legacy in 2020 and beyond.”
Founded in 1985, City Cruises is recognized as the UK’s largest tour boat operator, carrying three million guests each year. A fleet of 20 vessels offer dining, sightseeing and charter cruises, alongside speedboat rides, as well as cruise experiences on the River Ouse in York and Poole on the south coast.
Gary Beckwith, OBE, City Cruises founder and CEO commented: “We believe the sale of City Cruises to Hornblower will take the brand to the next level of success. We have always been at the forefront of change and believe our growth and success over the years is testament to our commitment to embracing innovation, constantly investing in our vessels and our customer experiences, and our dedication to providing outstanding customer service every day of the year. We have been honored to be at the helm of City Cruises and believe the business we started will further flourish and grow under Hornblower’s ownership.”
Hornblower Cruises and Events President, Kenneth Svendsen, leads the combined company. All staff will be retained, with founders Gary and Rita Beckwith assisting in the transition.
“At Hornblower, we aim to always attract extraordinary brands, leadership and great product. In City Cruises we are honored to have found the trifecta! Together, we share a commitment to delivering amazing experiences to our guests and that makes this a very compelling opportunity. Gary and Rita Beckwith have created a talented team and respected operation that are a terrific addition to our portfolio,” said Hornblower Cruises and Events President, Kenneth Svendsen. “As a European, I am
thrilled to be able to expand our unparalleled guest experiences and range of products to several key UK locations, including the iconic River Thames.”
Today’s announcement reaffirms the company’s 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 and Events has invested $50 million in guest experiences, innovation and technology, while adding new builds to the fleet alongside a program of innovative fleet enhancements and upgrades in a drive to become even more guest centric.
With the completion of this acquisition, Hornblower Cruises and Events now operates a fleet of 157 vessels offering dining cruises, sightseeing, private charter, water taxi and ferry brands in the US, Canada, and now the UK.
About City Cruises
City Cruises plc is the leading operator of passenger services on the River Thames, carrying in excess of three million passengers annually on our extensive sightseeing, entertainment and charter services. 2016 saw customer satisfaction levels at an all-time high with over 90% customers very likely or rather likely to sail with City Cruises again. The company’s Net Promoter Score sits at 9.4 out of 10. City Cruises has been in operation since 1985. It has a fleet of 20 river vessels, operating on the Thames and river Ouse in York as sightseeing boats and in Poole as a coastal cruise operation. Visit: www.citycruises.com, www.thamesjet.com,www.citycruisesyork.com and www.citycruisespoole.com.
About Hornblower Cruises and Events
Hornblower Cruises and Events is based in Chicago and employs around 4,300 shipmates, who operate a fleet of 157 vessels serving upwards of 9.8 million guests each year. The company is North America’s largest and leading provider of water-based dining, sightseeing, private charter and transportation experiences, serving 22 coveted destinations in America, Canada and the UK, including Alexandria, Baltimore, Berkley, Boston, Chicago, Long Beach, Marina Del Rey, Norfolk, Philadelphia, National Harbor, New Jersey, New York, Newport Beach, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Washington D.C., as well as Gananoque, and Toronto in Canada, and now London, York and Poole. Visit www.hornblower.com.
About Hornblower Group
Headquartered in San Francisco, Hornblower Group operates the official ferry boat service to Alcatraz Island, the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island Memorial Museum on behalf of the National Park Service as well as Hornblower Cruises and Events, NYC Ferry, American Queen Steamboat Company, Hornblower Niagara Cruises, Victory Cruises Lines, and HMS Global Maritime. The expansive portfolio reflects almost a century of sector expertise and innovation – from pioneering the earliest river sightseeing tours and dining cruises to developing the revolutionary Hornblower Hybrid, a vessel powered by wind, solar and battery electricity. For more information visit www.hornblower.com/our-experiences.