American Cruise Lines, a small ship line that operates U.S. coastal cruises, is expanding to the Mississippi River system. It's already building a new sternwheeler at Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, MD.
Slated to operate on the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, the new vessel will sail on routes similar to those formerly operated by Delta Queen Steamship Company and Majestic America Line. The new sternwheeler's seven-night inaugural cruise will depart Aug. 11, 2012 from New Orleans, LA, to Memphis, TN. Following that, the ship will sail on seven-night cruises that go as far north as St. Paul, MN. Thanks to its speed, which is faster than historic sternwheelers, it is also expected to offer some new itinerary options.
The 140-passenger sternwheeler will recreate the grandeur of past riverboats but feature the latest safety, environmental and construction technologies. The vessel will have six unique lounges, a library, an elegant dining salon, elevator service to all decks, and the exceptionally large staterooms found on all American Cruise Lines ships.
As with traditional riverboats, a stage and bow ramp will give the ship access to ports without the need for a dock. American Cruise Lines says it's experienced record bookings in 2010 and has seen an increasing demand from passengers to bring its style of cruising to the Mississippi and tributary rivers. The line currently operates itineraries along the inland waterways and rivers of the Pacific Northwest and East Coast of the United States.