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Merger on the Potomac: Alexandria cruise ship operator acquired

The Spirit of Washington, pictured here, is part of Entertainment Cruises' local fleet. The Chicago-based company merged with Potomac Riverboat, which is based in Alexandria, Va. (Courtesy Entertainment Cruises)

WASHINGTON — Chicago-based Entertainment Cruises, whose D.C. cruise fleet includes the Odyssey III, has acquired Alexandria, Virginia-based Potomac Riverboat Company for an undisclosed sum.

It merges the two largest operators of river cruises in the D.C. area, and creates a company with 13 vessels plying the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers and serving more than 600,000 passengers a year.

The combined company has about 500 employees in the D.C. region.

Potomac Riverboat Company has been family-owned and operated with sightseeing and water taxi cruises since 1974. It will remain headquartered in Alexandria.

“Our tour, taxi and charter expertise in the Washington, D.C. area is complementary to Entertainment Cruises, and we are looking forward to further expanding our operations and investing in our vibrant communities,” said Potomac Riverboat president Willem Polak.

Entertainment Cruises owns and operates sightseeing vessels in its hometown of Chicago, as well as Baltimore, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, South Florida and Norfolk, Virginia.  Its D.C. fleet is based at the Southwest Waterfront.

Entertainment Cruises — whose local fleet includes Odyssey III, Spirit of Washington, Spirit of Mount Vernon and private yachts National Elite and Capital Elite — is also partnering with The Wharf development to renovate Pier 4.

It is the nation’s largest dining cruise company, with 38 vessels counting the Potomac Riverboat acquisition.

Potomac Riverboat’s vessels include the Cherry Blossom; the Miss Christin; the Admiral Tilp; the Miss Mallory; the Matthew Hayes; the Lady Josephine; Commander Jacque and the Alexandria-National Harbor water taxis.

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