John Waggoner speaking


Attendees at our December lunch got a masterclass in storytelling from the dynamic and engaging John Waggoner, Founder & Chairman of American Queen Voyages, and President & CEO of HMS Global Maritime.
John shared how he turned his childhood dream of owning the lavish, grand American Queen river steamboat into a reality, and what he learned along the way. He talked about what it was like to raise money to finance his dream during a recession, and the challenges he met that led up to the “craziest closing in the world.” The sale was just the beginning — John talked about “hauling the boat out of the water” for renovations to restore it to its former glory, and the incredible, unexpected growth journey that followed. Learn more about American Queen Voyages here.

John has been actively involved in the passenger vessel industry for over 30 years. He began his career in the sport fishing industry, and has also worked in commercial fishing, offshore oil support vessels, dinner cruise and excursion vessels, casino boats, and car and passenger ferry operations. After serving as Director of Marine Operations for Hornblower Dining Yacht’s fleet of 29 dinner cruise vessels, John co-founded HMS Global Maritime in 1994.

John is a 2017 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year – Ohio Valley winner. HMS Global Maritime ranked No. 24 on the Business First Fast 50 list in 2017 and was selected to the Inc. 5000 list that same year.