Modern Mississippi riverboat to be named American Song

The first of American Cruise Lines’ modern riverboats will be named American Song.

The vessel will launch on the Mississippi River in fall 2018 and will head to the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia and Snake rivers for 2019.

The American Song will be wider, faster, and quieter than any of ACL’s other river cruise ships. Like ACL’s other vessels, the American Song is being built at Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Md., and thus will be U.S. flagged and crewed.

The vessel will have a four-story glass atrium and large lounge areas. It is being designed to have sweeping views throughout the ship. The staterooms will be the largest in the industry, according to ACL, and will have private balconies and large bathrooms.

With the launch of American Song next year, ACL will operate a fleet of 10 vessels, including coastal cruisers and paddlewheelers.

The company sails along the coasts and inland waterways of Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, the Mississippi River region, the Southeast and New England.

New ships mean new port calls in the U.S.

Image result for grand majestic paddlewheel steamer

Sure, it may not be growing as aggressively or rapidly as the European river cruise market, but the U.S. river cruise industry continues to see a steady number of new vessels being launched each year, the latest being a passion project of Cincinnati native Capt. Joseph Baer.

And while it’s always exciting to see new vessels coming online, to get the first sneak peeks at interior renderings and to witness the ways in which different companies are interpreting the U.S. river cruise experience onboard, what some of these new vessels symbolize is more than just new hardware; some are promising to take U.S. river passengers on entirely new river routes and new ports.

For instance, the 70-passenger paddlewheeler Grand Majestic, being launched by Baer’s Grand Majestic River Co. this fall, will reportedly be able to sail along some smaller inland waterways due to its shorter height and shallower draft. Baer said that the smaller size of the Grand Majestic means it can clear some bridges and sail in shallower waters that will enable it to cruise to or near Tulsa, Okla.; Omaha, Neb.; Sioux City, Iowa; Charleston, W.Va.; and into the outskirts of Chicago by next year.

American Cruise Lines, too, has said that it plans to look into some new and different waterways in the U.S. as it develops a fleet of five more modern riverboats for the U.S. market. The first two of those are slated to hit the more traditional Mississippi River System and the Columbia and Snake rivers in the Pacific Northwest, but the company has previously said that it has its eye on numerous additional waterways, including the Sacramento River, San Joaquin River, Missouri River, Des Moines River, Wabash River, Illinois River, Apalachicola River, Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, Mid-Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, Erie Canal, Hudson River, Oswego Canal, Potomac River and Alaska’s Inside Passage.

Hopefully the trend will continue. Because while everyone wants to see places like New Orleans, Memphis and Portland, Ore., when it comes to U.S. river cruising, there is clearly still a fair amount of untapped potential in terms of where to go and what to see.

ACL’s first ‘modern’ Paddlewheeler to launch in 2019

Image result for American Cruise Lines

American Cruise Lines (ACL) has pushed back the expected launch of its more modern fleet of river cruise vessels by two years, to 2019.

Last year, when ACL first laid out plans for a fleet of modern ships for American rivers, they were slated to begin launching in 2017. This month, ACL said that construction is under way on the first of those riverboats, but that it is now expected to debut in 2019. The steel is currently being fabricated for what the company described as a “modern” paddlewheeler that will carry approximately 195 passengers.

ACL did not provide any additional details about the new vessel, such as where it will sail, but did say that it is being built with the standards of European river cruising in mind and “with a level of comfort unprecedented on the American rivers.”

Timothy Beebe, vice president of ACL, said in a statement that by “continually designing and building brand new ships”, the company was able to increase the quality of its product.

Earlier this year, American Cruise Lines launched its eighth ship, the 185-passenger Mississippi paddlewheeler, the America.

ACL has also begun construction on two new coastal cruise ships, with the first expected to launch in May 2017, and the second in 2018.

A rendering of the American Constellation.

American Cruise Lines said it has two new coastal ships under construction that will carry 170 passengers each.

The first ship, the American Constellation, is expected to begin cruising in May. The second ship, yet unnamed, is scheduled for completion in 2018.

The summer inaugural season will be devoted to a new 10-night round-trip itinerary from Boston to destinations including Bar Harbor, Newport, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

Both ships are being built at Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Md., which is affiliated with American Cruise Lines. The design includes marbled tile bathrooms and large sliding glass doors in each cabin.