American Cruise signs Mississippi dock deal; adding ship in Pacific Northwest

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The American Song currently sails the Columbia and Snake rivers; a second ship will join it in 2021.
The American Song currently sails the Columbia and Snake rivers; a second ship will join it in 2021.

American Cruise Lines has signed a 20-year lease with the city of Vicksburg, Miss., to develop a dock for its growing river fleet, the company announced.

The company also said it will add a new ship to the Columbia and Snake rivers in the Pacific Northwest next year, bringing the fleet there to four.

The company didn't release terms of the docking agreement, but The Vicksburg Post reported ACL will spend at least $200,000 on sidewalks, park benches, landscaping and other improvements in return for preferred docking rights. It will also continue to pay a per passenger docking fee, which the local newspaper said is $2 a head.

While ACL has been visiting Vicksburg for years, the newspaper said the lease marks the first formal agreement with a river cruise line for helping to develop the waterfront.

"In the history of this city, this is the first game-changer along the Mississippi River," Mayor George Flaggs Jr. "This is the first private, no-cost to the taxpayers development along the Mississippi River."

According to the newspaper, Viking Cruises has also expressed interest in space on the waterfront. Viking has for years been eyeing the U.S. market, but has yet to announce any plan for developing a domestic fleet.

ACL, meanwhile, has doubled its capacity on the river, with four ships cruising there this year and more new ships coming in 2021 and beyond.

In addition to ACL, American Queen Steamboat sails the Mississippi. It will launch its third ship on the river in April.

Next year, ACL said it will also add a new 190-guest riverboat to its fleet on the Columbia and Snake rivers. It will be the line's second modern ship in the region. It also operates two paddlewheelers on the rivers.

"Our fleet has grown substantially in recent years, and with more ships under construction, we are not slowing down anytime soon," said Charles B. Robertson, president and CEO of the line. "The modern riverboats have been received wonderfully and we look forward to continued expansion on both the Columbia and the Mississippi River systems." 

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