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Hornblower to acquire City Cruises

Hornblower to acquire City Cruises

City Cruises has been acquired by Hornblower UK, an American dining and excursion cruise operator based out of San Francisco.

The sale of City Cruises, formerly owned by Gary and Rita Beckwith, chairman and chief executive respectively, will mean greater investment opportunities for the brand in 2020 and beyond. 

All staff will be retained, while the Beckwiths will stay on as consultants for several months to assist with the transition.

Terry MacRae, chief executive of the Hornblower parent in the US, commented: “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.”


Hornblower has been operating for 35 years in the US and runs popular river cruises, harbour cruises, whale watching trips and ferries throughout North America including trips to Alcatraz in San Francisco, the Statue of Liberty in New York and Niagara Falls in Canada. 

They are the largest river and harbour cruising company in the US.

City Cruises was founded in 1985 and now comprises the operation on the River Thames, City Cruises York, City Cruises Poole, ThamesJet and R.S Hispaniola. 

Over the last 30 years, founders Gary and Rita Beckwith built up the company’s fleet to be the largest river cruise operator on the River Thames and the couple are widely acknowledged in the tourism industry as pioneers championing domestic tourism. 

Gary Beckwith commented: “We believe the sale of City Cruises to the Hornblower family of brands 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 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.”

The value of the deal was not disclosed.