Two years after announcing plans to develop a fleet of
modern riverboats for U.S. rivers, American Cruise Lines (ACL) on Wednesday
revealed details and a rendering of the first vessel in the new series, slated
to begin passenger service in 2018.
ACL said the 200-passenger vessel will be the first of a new
class of five modern riverboats and will feature "the modern styling of a
The 345-foot vessel will have what the company is claiming
will be the largest staterooms in the United States, with private balconies and
hotel-size bathrooms (stateroom bathrooms on river cruise vessels are often a
bit cramped due to lack of onboard space).
"American Cruise Lines has consistently pursued its
newbuild program, as it considers refurbished boats unable to meet the modern
expectations of today's river cruise passengers," said Timothy Beebe, ACL's
The company's main competitor in U.S. river cruising is American
Queen Steamboat Company, which owns a fleet of three refurbished riverboats.
Construction has begun on ACL's first modern riverboat at
Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Md.
ACL first unveiled its plans to build a fleet of modern
vessels in 2015.
Back then, the company said the first of those new ships would begin sailing in
2017, a date that has now been pushed back to next year.
ACL explained that it decided to advance construction on a
new coastal cruise ship before building the first of the modern riverboats, in
order to accommodate demand for the coastal cruiser.
While ACL has not said where the first of the modern
riverboats will sail, two years ago the company said it was eyeing numerous
inland waterways for potential development, including some that haven't had
overnight passenger cruising in a very long time, if ever.
The list the company provided included the Sacramento River,
San Joaquin River, Missouri River, Des Moines River, Wabash River, Illinois
River, Apalachicola River, Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, Mid-Atlantic
Intracoastal Waterway, Erie Canal, Hudson River, Oswego Canal, Potomac River
and Alaska's Inside Passage.
To date, ACL has already built three Mississippi
paddlewheelers from the ground up, the most recent of which was the
185-passenger America, which launched last year.
ACL also owns and operates the refurbished Columbia River
paddlewheeler Queen of the West, as well as three yacht-style coastal cruisers:
the Independence, American Star, American Spirit.
In addition to the new class of modern riverboats, ACL is in
the process building two coastal cruisers at Chesapeake Shipbuilding:
the 170-passenger American Constellation, scheduled to begin cruising this May,
and its sister ship, which will begin cruising in 2018.
Correction and clarification: ACL has three yacht-style cruisers. A previous version of this report said the company had four. Also, ACL provided an explanation for why it postponed the construction of modern riverboats after the initial report was published.