ACCL's Grande Caribe to Make Debut on June 1

By Cathy Carroll

WARREN, R.I. -American Canadian Caribbean Line's newest vessel will debut June 1, renamed as Grande Caribe.

ACCL said it originally named the ship Grande Prince, but changed it after Princess Cruises threatened legal action to protect the name of its vessel, Grand Princess, a 105,000-ton vessel slated to debut in the spring of 1998.

The $8 million, 100-passenger ship will make its maiden voyage on the Erie Canal and the Saguenay River in Quebec.

The new ship will serve all of ACCL's routes throughout the Americas and the Caribbean, which will alleviate the creation of a waiting list for those sailings, as has been the case in the past, according to the line.

The 182-foot vessel has 50 double-occupancy cabins, making it the largest ship in ACCL's fleet.

In keeping with the ACCL philosophy, the new ship will be comfortable but simple, an atmosphere preferred by an extremely loyal clientele, the line said.

For instance, the ship does not have a casino nor does it feature shows.

"Our guests are destination travelers. They are not as interested in what is on board" as other travelers are, according to a spokesman for the 31-year-old line said.

The company's approach apparently is successful, with the line boasting a repeat passenger rate of 70%.

The cruise line's average guest age is "60-plus," a spokesman said.

The ship will incorporate ACCL's patented bow ramp, which enables guests to disembark directly onto land.

This makes it possible for ACCL vessels to call directly at villages or virtually in any spot the line selects because the bow ramp enables the vessel to forego having to call at a port.

The ship also includes other features which enable it to seek out less-visited areas.

This includes a shallow draft of six feet, six inches; a stern dock, and a retractable pilot house for sailing under low bridges.

The dining room seats 100 passengers, and a lounge provides areas for lectures or small corporate meetings during charters.

The Grande Caribe will join ACCL's other vessels on inland waterways, including the Great Lakes, mid-America rivers, the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Intracoastal Waterway.

The line said it also anticipates adding new itineraries, including Amazon and Central American islands as well as Labrador and Newfoundland in Canada.

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