American Cruise Lines (ACL) has been sailing coastal U.S. cruises for more than a month, the first cruise line to resume ocean cruise operations in the U.S. in the past year, with the launch of its 100-passenger Independence from Florida on March 13.
The ship is operating one-week sailings from Jacksonville, Fla., to Charleston, S.C.
ACL, which has largest fleet of U.S.-registered ships in the country, is scheduled to have its full 13-ship fleet sailing in all U.S. regions later this spring. The line will offer cruises in Alaska, Puget Sound, New England, Chesapeake Bay and the Hudson River, as well as river cruise vessels on the Mississippi, Columbia and Snake Rivers.
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The fleet is able to sail in U.S. waters under the CDC's cruise restrictions because its ships are U.S.-flagged and accommodate fewer than 200 passengers.
Charles B. Robertson, CEO of American Cruise Lines, said the "the popularity of small-ship domestic cruising was stronger than ever before the pandemic, and 2021 demand is already at new record levels."
ACL is voluntarily operating with occupancy restrictions and had implemented Covid-19 mitigation practices, including preboarding testing and medical staff on all cruises.