American Cruise Lines has solidified its status as the Mississippi River's — and the country's — busiest river cruise provider with its purchase of all four classic paddlewheeler ships from the now-defunct American Queen Voyages.

Travel Weekly reported that the acquisitions include the 417-passenger mothership American Queen, along with smaller ships American Duchess, American Countess and American Empress. Most of these ships, inspired by 19th-century riverboats, have regularly sailed Mississippi River itineraries, including summer and fall stops in Red Wing and Winona, Minn., and La Crosse, Wis.

American Queen Voyages operated leisure cruises since 2011 on the Mississippi and its tributaries, as well as the Snake and Columbia rivers out West, but owner Hornblower Holdings abruptly shut it down on Feb. 20.

American Cruise Lines did not immediately have details on how the American Queen ships would integrate into its existing fleet of 21 cruise ships in six classes — including four paddlewheelers of its own.

"American Cruise Lines is pleased to be the successful bidder for AQV's river vessels," the company said in a brief statement. "We look forward to announcing additional details after this portion of the Hornblower Holdings bankruptcy process concludes."

We compared and contrasted the ships of American Cruise Lines, American Queen Voyages and a third line on the Mississippi, Viking River Cruises, last summer.