Domestic small ship cruise operator American Cruise Lines on Monday announced plans to construct 12 new ships that will “more than double” the nation’s capacity for domestic coastal cruises.
The new U.S.-built fleet, the centerpiece of what the company calls “Project Blue,” will operate exclusively in the United States and feature a “go-anywhere” hybrid catamaran design giving them “unprecedented near-shore operating versatility,” the company said in a press release.
Like other American Cruise Lines newbuilds, all 12 will be built by Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Maryland. Each will be 241 feet long, 56 feet wide, and will accommodate 109 passengers and 50 crew. The company said the hybrid catamaran design will enable both shallow draft access and stable sailing along lakes, rivers, bays, and the U.S. coastline.
“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,” said American Cruise Lines President and CEO, Charles B. Robertson.
The first two ships in the project, which are already under construction, will be named American Eagle and American Glory—namesakes of the company’s first two small U.S.-built ships. They are planned to debut in 2023 with U.S. East Coast itineraries.
Each ship will offer 56 staterooms nearly all will have private balconies, including a range of large standards, suites, and singles. The company says there will be observation and sitting areas available at the bow, with both inside and outside, and an expansive forward lounge with 270 degree views. The stern will have a new “adventure deck” equipped with kayaks, tender, and other activities depending on the itinerary. The ships will also feature two dining venues, as well as room service.
American currently operates 15 ships accommodating between 100-190 passengers, which cruise more than 35 domestic itineraries in 31 states. All of its ships are 100% U.S.-built, crewed, and registered.