American Cruise Lines

This sophisticated U.S.-based cruise line offers rare All-American cruises from Maine to the rivers of Florida, and recently added regular Mississippi River, Columbia River and Alaska cruises.

American Cruise Lines is an 'All-American' cruise line offering all-American itineraries from the tip of Maine to Florida . The fleet now includes six modern ships, two of them newly built. The original fleet sails from the rocky coast of Maine, the Hudson, the Potomac, Chesapeake Bay, The Mid-Atlantic inland passage, the historic South and even the rivers of Florida. The two new ships are (1) a custom built river paddle-steamer (replica) running the course of the Mississippi, and another small ship sailing in Alaska as an expedition vessel.

American Cruise Lines is one of the few U.S.-flagged cruise lines still in business. This means their vessels are U.S. built and crewed, so they do not have the usual Jones Act restrictions requiring them to call in foreign ports on any cruise. Here are the five somewhat older ships, although for the most part they are all built since 2000.

  • Queen of the Mississippi - 150 passengers, christened in 2012
  • Independence - 104 passengers, 22 crewmembers, built in 2010
  • American Star - 100 passengers, 22 crewmembers, built in 2007
  • American Spirit - 93 passengers, 22 crewmembers, built in 2005
  • American Glory - 49 passengers, 17 crewmembers, built in 2002
  • American Eagle - 49 passengers, 17 crewmembers, built in 2000

Another ship, Queen of the West, is a paddle-wheel steamboat on the Columbia River that was acquired when Majestic American Lines declared bankruptcy. It sails seven day cruises between Portland, Oregon, and Lewiston, Idaho.

The newly built Queen of the Mississippi is a beautiful replica of an authentic steamboat that also has two propellers to drives the boat upstream at over 10 knots, more that twice as fast as any other paddle-wheel boat can do the trip including the just newly renovated American Queen which just re-entered service in 2012. Queen of the Mississippi was christened in St. Louis in July, 2012.

The owner of American Cruise Lines (a private company) also owns the shipyard where the vessels are built, Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Maryland. This is the closest thing to a bottom up cruise ship building shipyard we have in operation in the U.S. right now.

Independence, the newest regular small ship on the East Coast, is a beautiful vessel with extra large staterooms and Rolls Royce stabilizers. She has a passenger capacity of 104 in 52 staterooms, 41 of which have private balconies. There are four different categories with two Owner's Suites. Staterooms open to a common corridor inside and there is an elevator to all decks, including the Observation Deck on top. The ship has a fitness center and four large public rooms. She is 2200-registered tons with a 8-foot shallow-V hull and an 8-foot draft. These small-ship beauties all include surprisingly large staterooms, some with balconies, with flat-screen televisions for satelite and DVD viewing, wireless Internet throughout and large seating areas with couches and chairs. The ships have elevators, beautiful public rooms and single seating dining.

Ship Itineraries

The ships tend to move around the various itineraries, so it is possible to combine cruises or take your favorite vessel to different destinations. For example, the American Star cruises in 2009 to Maine in September, the Hudson River in October, visits the great rivers of Florida in November and the Historic South in December. Here are details on the different itineraries.

Chesapeake Bay: The brand new Independence begins sailing in June 2010 in the Chesapeake Bay. Sailing from Baltimore you visit Annapolis, Yorktowm, historic Williamsburg and a number of small towns in Maryland such as Crisfield settled by Captain John Smith in 1608. Other Maryland stops include Cambridge, Oxford and St. Michaels.

Hudson River: In October the Independence will navigate the Hudson from New York City up to Albany, stopping in West Point, Catskill, Kingston and Sleepy Hollow.

Grand New England: The America Glory does 10 and 11-night cruises to "Grand New England," starting in Providence Rhode Island to Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard and Gloucester, Mass. to Portland, Boothbay, Bar Harbor, Rockland, Camden, Belfast and Bangor Maine.

Mid Atlantic Inland Passage: All the ships do this itinerary at least once, stretching from Baltimore to Charleston, South Carolina. Stops include Norfolk, VA, Oriental, Morehead City and Wilmington, NC, Myrtle Beach and Charleston, SC.

East Coast Inland Passage: Runs from Baltimore to Jacksonville Florida on a 14-night itinerary.

Philadelphia and Potomac: Sails from Philadelphia to Maryland coastal ports, Annapolis, Mt Vernon and up the Potomac to Washington D.C.

Great Rivers of Florida: Sails St. Johns River, one of the few north-flowing rivers above the equator.

Historic South & Golden Isles: Between Charleston, SC and Jacksonville, FL, through the rivers and bays of the inland waterway.

The Mississippi River on Queen of the Mississippi sails the Mississippi River all the way from New Orleans to St. Paul Minnesota and up the Ohio to Cincinatti.

The America Spirit sails in Alaska in the summer season and comes south in cooler seasons to explore the area around Seattle; the Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands.

There are special cruises scheduled througout the year such as the Maine Lobster Festival, Clambake Cruises and a lighthouse cruise that visits 50 different New England lighthouses. Guest lecturers will come aboard to give information on points of interest.

Other American Cruise Line Details:

The crew is all American on these small ships, which are comfortable and state of the art cruising yachts. Gratuities are not included and are completely discretionary. The average tip is about $150 per person, the line says.

They dont have glitzy casinos or showrooms, but they feature excellent cuisine and will bring local entertainers aboard throughout the cruise. There are spacious viewing areas indoors and out, and you will be within proximity of land the vast majority of the time so there is plenty to see.

Casual sportswear is suggested during the day with a country club attire for dinner. Comfortable walking shoes, sweaters, a windbreaker and light rainwear are also recommended for shore tours. 110-volt household current is available in all staterooms for electric appliances. There are hairdryers and safes onboard.

Meals are served in the dining room, which accommodates all passengers at one seating. Special diets can be accomodated. Breakfast is prepared to order and served in the dining room only. Coffee, non-alcoholic beverages and snacks are available 24 hours a day. There is a complimentary cocktail party onboard every night before dinner, and wine and beer are included with dinner. Soft drinks, coffee and tea are complimentary all day.

Gratuities are not included in the cruise fare. Singles can sail at a 150% to 175% singles supplement, depending on the selected accommodations. The repeat passenger program is called The Eagle Society after their first ship and one cruise qualifies you for the program.

Full brochures and other details are available online at

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