U.S. river and coastal cruise shipping company American Cruise Lines has revealed plans for building 12 new identical sister ships that will increase the nation’s current capacity for domestic coastal cruises by more than double.
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The relatively fresh U.S.-built fleet, announced as part of ACL’s newly revealed Project Blue expansion plan will be operating exclusively in the United States, with a focus on smaller towns and close-to-home endeavors, the company said, going on to add that the hybrid catamarans have been designed to offer greater near-shore operating versatility.
President and CEO of American Cruise Lines, Charles B. Robertson explained, “Project Blue started as a design challenge to create a boat small enough for New England harbors and stable enough for the Alaska Inside Passage, with a draft shallow enough for the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. These boats can run almost anywhere, and because there will be 12 of them, they will be deployed all over the United States.”
Like all of American’s new ships, the entirety of the Project Blue fleet will be built by Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Md. The first two Project Blue ships are already under development and are scheduled for delivery in 2023.
Each vessel in the Project Blue fleet is capable of accommodating 109 passengers and 50 crew members. They will be 241 feet long and 56 feet wide, and will feature the hybrid catamaran design that enables both shallow draft access and stable sailing along rivers, bays ,lakes and America’s coastline.
Robertson added, “Together with Chesapeake Shipbuilding, we built the first modern riverboats in the country. Now we are proud to introduce another new ship design for domestic exploration. American has specialized in small ship cruising for over 30 years, and continuing to innovate and expand the possibilities for cruising close to home is central to our mission”.
The new fleet is going to feature elegant modern décor by Miami-based Studio DADO. Each ship will offer 56 spacious staterooms, including a range of large standards, suites and singles, and most of them will be equipped with private balconies. Observation and sitting areas will be available at the bow, both inside and outside, and each ship will sport an expansive forward lounge with 270 degree views.
At the stern, the ships will be equipped with a new adventure deck with kayaks, tender and other activity related options relevant to the itinerary. American’s new go-anywhere ships will also feature two dining venues, as well as room service, a rarity for small ships of this size.
The first two ships are planned to debut along East Coast itineraries and will be named American Eagle and American Glory, which are namesakes of the company’s very first small U.S.-built ships.