Are We Seeing the Renaissance of American River Cruising?

By    James Shillinglaw,  Apr 04, 2019

With two American cruise lines, American Cruise Lines (ACL) and American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC), aggressively competing and expanding their fleets with new ships and acquisitions, it suddenly seems like there’s a rebirth in river cruising in the U.S. AQSC is in the midst of absorbing its purchase of Victory Cruise Line with its two cruise ships, Victory I and Victory II, set to sail the Great Lakes this season. It’s also adding American Countess as a third paddlewheeler on the Mississippi.

For its part, ACL says it is continuing to accelerate its newbuild program across its diverse fleet—adding new ships to its new modern riverboat series as well as its fleet of new coastal ships and Victorian-style paddlewheelers. ACL’s aggressive building program has expanded exponentially in the past two years. The company introduced a new ship in 2017 and two new ships in 2018—and it has no plans to slow down. ACL’s latest new ship will go into service this summer, and the company has two more new builds coming in 2020 and 2021, respectively. (See slideshow above for photos of ACL’s ships and ship interiors.)

In August 2019, American Harmony, the 2nd of 5 ships in American’s Modern Riverboat Series, will begin service on the Mississippi, bringing American’s fleet of U.S. built ships to 11. By 2021, American’s fleet will have increased to 15 ships. American Song, the 1st modern riverboat in the U.S., began cruising in October 2018 and is already sailing out West on the Columbia & Snake Rivers. The 3rd modern riverboat, to be named shortly, will be completed in 2020, and is already well under construction at Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, MD where all American’s ships are designed and built.

ACL offers three distinct ship styles and all of its ships are newbuilds. Each possess the newest safety technology and feature stunning interior design. The company says its series of five modern riverboats that meet the highest new emissions standards and have the smallest carbon footprints in the industry. Its modern riverboats complement its Victorian paddlewheelers and fully stabilized coastal ships.

American’s modern riverboats feature multi-story glass atriums and more glass throughout to ensure spectacular views from everywhere on the ship. The ships have huge standard cabins (at over 350 square feet) all outward facing, with full sliding glass doors and private furnished balconies. Each new ship in the series has a patent-pending opening bow and retractable gangway, which enables these riverboats to make bow landings wherever necessary. In addition to numerous lounges and sundecks, the riverboats also feature casual cafes, in addition to the grand dining rooms found aboard all ACL’s ships.

While every ship in the modern riverboat series shares the underlying modern design premise, each new vessel is slightly different than the one that came before it. The first ship, American Song, has five decks and showcases 900-square-foot Grand Suites with wrap-around private balconies. The second ship, American Harmony, has fix decks and features a fifth deck with 10 large veranda suites. The third modern riverboat will be slightly larger than the first and second, but all the modern riverboats carry under 200 passengers.

American Song, American Harmony and the upcoming third, fourth and fifth ships in the modern riverboat series are the very first vessels of their kind in the U.S. and response to first modern riverboat, American Song, which ACL says has been well received by guests. In the past few years, the company has enjoyed record sales across its diverse fleet and continues to grow, adding newly designed, American-built ships year after year. For more information, call 800-814-6880 click on American Cruise Lines.