Formerly owned by Gary and Rita Beckwith OBE, City Cruises has been bought by Hornblower UK Holdings, a dining and excursion cruise operator based out of San Francisco.

A statement said the sale will mean ‘greater investment opportunities for the City Cruises brand in 2020 and beyond’.

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

“We believe the sale of City Cruises to the Hornblower Family of Brands will take the brand to the next level of success,” said Gary Beckwith.

“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.”

Terry MacRae, CEO of the Hornblower parent in the US, added: “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.”

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

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