So, if cruisers really can’t wait to sail from U.S. ports right now, where can they head to? In positive news this week, small-ship, American-flagged American Cruise Lines (ACL) reports that it now has six of its 13 vessels back sailing both U.S. coastal waters and on U.S. rivers. It’s currently the only cruise line now sailing along the U.S. East Coast.
While big ships wait for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s (CDC) approval, cruise lines operating small ships don’t need that blessing. In addition, many of those lines operate some or all American-flagged vessels, so they can sail between U.S. ports with no issue. They don’t need to make a “foreign port call” on the itinerary to comply with U.S. law for all foreign-flagged vessels.
Six of 13 Vessels Sailing
In an update this week, ACL announced that its 2021 season has begun with the first six of its 13 ships operating from eight different U.S. states. As Travel Agent reported in March, the 100-passenger Independence was the first cruise ship back in U.S. coastal waters, sailing from Florida to destinations in the southeastern U.S.
Currently, both Independence and the 100-passenger American Star are operating week-long “Historic South and Golden Isles” cruises between Amelia Island, FL, and Charleston, SC. Also on the East Coast, the 175-passenger American Constitution is currently sailing in the Chesapeake Bay. One highlight? On ACL’s “American Revolution” itinerary, the coastal ship docks at The Wharf in Washington, D.C., something that hasn’t been done in more than six decades.
ACL’s Mississippi River cruises also are now under way. Guests can sail the “Big Muddy” on the new 190-passenger, modern American Jazz, as well as two paddlewheelers—the 150-passenger Queen of the Mississippi and the 185-passenger America. In August, they will be joined by a fourth vessel, the new modern, 175-passenger American Melody, a sister to American Jazz. Mississippi River cruises operate from New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville, St. Louis and St. Paul, MN.
“As the only cruise line visiting 30 states, we have taken great care to resume cruises safely in each region by working closely with state and local partners.” said Charles B. Robertson, ACL’s president and CEO. “The popularity of small ship domestic cruising was stronger than ever before the pandemic and 2021 demand is already at new record levels.”
In addition to those cruises already “restarted,” ACL plans to restart other ships, as well:
- New England cruises will begin in May and June on American Constitution, Independence and American Star
- The company has been working closely with authorities in Oregon and Washington with plans to resume voyages along the Columbia and Snake Rivers in early May on the 184-passenger American Song, as well as three other vessels—the 190-passenger American Harmony, 150-passenger American Pride and 100-passenger Queen of the West
- Along the West Coast, the 175-passenger American Constellation and the 100-passenger American Spirit will begin sailing “Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands” voyages in May
- In Alaska, American Constellation will operate cruises from June through early September
- Other ships will restart later in 2021 along normal seasonal schedules.
The 2021 cruises include a regimen of new safety protocols. While the cruise line’s small ships already offer more than 350 square feet per passenger, all the ACL ships are voluntarily operating at reduced capacity to further enhance social distancing. The line’s COVID-19 mitigation practices include COVID-19 testing prior to boarding as well as medical staff sailing on all cruises.
For more information, visit www.americancruiselines.com.