At American Cruise Lines, the Sky’s the Limit

American Eagle, courtesy of American Cruise Lines
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Photos provided by American Cruise Lines

American Cruise Lines continues to prove that when it comes to small ship cruising, America doesn’t take a backseat to any country.

Headquartered in Guilford, Connecticut and founded in 1991, ACL has tripled its fleet in the last five years, and just last week announced the next two ships in their Project Blue initiative: American Patriot and American Pioneer, both coming in 2025. Earlier this year, it was announced ACL acquired four paddle wheelers previously owned by American Queen Voyages, which declared bankruptcy earlier this year.

American Glory — one of the new “Coastal Cats”

Alexa Paolella, public relations manager for American Cruise Lines, was at the just-concluded Seatrade Cruise Global in Miami Beach and we had a chance to talk about what’s new and what’s ahead, starting with an update on Project Blue.

“When we announced Project Blue at Seatrade in 2022, it represented the largest U.S. ship order in decades,” she said. The project encompasses 12 new ships. Featuring a hybrid catamaran design, the first two “Coastal Cats” — American Eagle and American Glory — have launched. This year they will be joined by American Legend and American Liberty.

American Patriot, coming in 2025

The fifth and sixth ships, American Patriot and American Pioneer, “will be slightly larger and more of a uniform, traditional, small-ship body design,” Ms. Paolella said. Both will have a guest capacity of 125, versus 100 for the Coastal Cats. True to small ship cruising, across the fleet their ships accommodate 90 to 180 guests

While their ships may be smaller, their staterooms are “the largest of any ship that size in the industry,” she said, adding, “all have 100 percent outward-facing cabins.”

As new ships come online, ACL is expanding their already sizeable number of river and coastal itineraries, all U.S.-based. Responding to the demand for longer cruises, last year ACL announced an unprecedented 61-day Great United States cruise, along with a 35-Day Civil War Battlefields cruise in 2024. Both are sold out.

The Great United States cruise

The Great United States cruise covers 20 states and four time zones, beginning on the Pacific Coast and going east to the Atlantic, on four major rivers, including the Mississippi. It ends, appropriately enough, in New York Harbor in view of the Statue of Liberty.

The Civil War Battlefields Cruise, which departs May 4 from New Orleans and ends June 6 in Gettysburg, will be led by Bertram Hayes-Davis, the great great grandson of Jefferson Davis. Civil War experts will also be aboard for the cruise, which visits 13 states and all three major theaters of the war.

Ms. Paolella said they are introducing new national parks cruises, which range from 12 to 19 days, and include two cruises in Alaska that will feature stops in Denali, Kenai Fjords, and Glacier Bay National Parks. The 18-Day Grand Alaska National Parks includes an 11-day cruise and seven days of guided tours. Also new is an 11-day Great Smoky Mountains National Park cruise on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, plus two days of guided tours in the park.

In 2018, ACL’s American Constitution became the first ship to dock in Washington, D.C. in over 60 years, and their American Revolution cruises continue to go there, sailing the Chesapeake Bay, Potomac and York Rivers.

Ms. Paolella said one of their newest itineraries next year will be Grand Florida Coast & Keys Cruise. Guests will be able to travel both Florida coastlines, starting in Jacksonville/Amelia Island, to the Florida Keys and ending in St. Petersburg, stopping at 10 ports over 15 days.

Where will they go next?

“It’s a big country,” she said. “The sky’s the limit.”

Related Reading: Grand Puget Sound Cruise on American Constellation

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