American Cruise Lines Review: Cruise Ship Guide, Itineraries, Bookings & Deals

American Cruise Lines is a U.S.-based cruise line that offers unique and immersive travel experiences on its fleet of small ships and riverboats. The cruise line was founded in 1991 and has since become one of the leading providers of small ship cruises in the United States. In this article, we will explore the history of American Cruise Lines and its fleet of ships. American Cruise Lines operates a fleet of 13 ships, each designed to provide a personalized and intimate cruise experience with a focus on adventure, exploration, and cultural immersion. The ships are designed to carry a smaller number of passengers, with a high staff-to-guest ratio and attentive service. The ships also feature a range of public spaces, including lounges, bars, and libraries, providing guests with plenty of space to relax and socialize.

In a Nutshell…

  1. American Riverboats: These accommodate 180 guests and include the American Serenade (inaugural sailing scheduled in 2023), American Symphony, and American Melody (a new riverboat).
  2. Coastal Cats Cruise Ships: Designed for 100 guests, these ships feature the American Eagle (scheduled for summer 2023) and the American Glory (scheduled for fall 2023).
  3. Constellation Class Coastal Ships: With a capacity of 170 guests, the American Constellation falls into this category.
  4. Paddlewheelers: These classic vessels can host 180 guests and include the American Heritage.
  5. Independence Class Coastal Ships: These smaller ships accommodate 90 guests and include the American Independence.

History of The American Cruise Lines Cruises

American Cruise Lines, with its roots tracing back to 1991, stands as a trailblazer in U.S. river and small-ship cruising. The company operates the largest and sole 100% U.S.-flagged fleet of riverboats and small cruise ships, boasting an impressive lineup of vessels that navigate the country’s waterways. As a family-owned and operated company, its commitment to innovation, design, and construction has been a driving force behind its evolution and success within the American cruise industry.

The company’s fleet expansion, characterized by the introduction of new modern riverboats and small coastal cruise ships, underscores its commitment to offering contemporary and upscale cruising experiences. The launch of the American Song, the first in the line’s highly anticipated new “Modern Riverboat Series,” marked a significant leap in the company’s evolution, introducing innovative design and cutting-edge features that set a new standard in American river cruising. The company’s dedication to continuous fleet expansion and modernization is exemplified by the launch of additional modern riverboats such as American Harmony, American Jazz, American Melody, American Symphony, and American Serenade, each offering state-of-the-art amenities and private balcony accommodations.

American Cruise Lines’ dedication to environmental sustainability and technological advancement is evident through its deployment of high-tech and environmentally friendly features in its new vessels. Notably, the incorporation of ultra-low-sulphur diesel engines and environmentally conscious design elements demonstrates the company’s commitment to reducing emissions and operating in an eco-friendly manner. The company’s focus on implementing innovative technologies aligns with its vision to provide passengers with a modern and sophisticated cruising experience while prioritizing environmental responsibility.

American Cruise Lines’ strategic advantage lies in its in-house shipbuilding capabilities, facilitated by its family-owned shipyard. The company’s ability to align design, construction, and operation allows for seamless integration and the creation of vessels tailored to its specific vision and standards. By building its own ships, the company has honed its expertise and gained a unique edge in the industry, enabling it to deliver exceptional cruising experiences that reflect its commitment to quality and innovation.

The evolution of American river cruising has been marked by the company’s pioneering efforts in designing and constructing vessels tailored to meet the increasing expectations of passengers. The introduction of sleek, modern, and upscale riverboats with contemporary amenities and larger staterooms has redefined the American river cruising experience, attracting not only traditional river cruisers but also those who have previously favored European river cruises. The company’s dedication to tapping into new sailing experiences on America’s rivers has broadened the appeal of American river cruising and set the stage for a transformative evolution within the industry.

As American Cruise Lines continues to expand its fleet and enhance its cruising offerings, its dedication to delivering personalized service, upscale experiences, and a casual yet intimate cruising style remains unwavering. The company’s ability to adapt to evolving passenger expectations and its commitment to providing a country club feel on its vessels underscores its vision for the future of American river and small-ship cruising.

In conclusion, American Cruise Lines’ rich history and forward-thinking evolution have positioned it as a prominent leader in U.S. river and small-ship cruising. The company’s legacy of innovation, fleet expansion, commitment to environmental sustainability, and in-house shipbuilding advantage has shaped the modern landscape of American cruising, offering passengers a sophisticated and immersive travel experience that reflects the company’s dedication to excellence and pioneering spirit.

This review provides a comprehensive exploration of American Cruise Lines’ historical significance, evolution, and dedication to redefining the American cruising experience, portraying the company’s remarkable journey and its vision for the future of cruising in the United States.

Destinations of American Cruise Lines Cruises

  1. Mississippi River: The iconic Mississippi River, with its meandering course, is a focal point for American Cruise Lines. Passengers can immerse themselves in the heart of the South, enjoying the rhythmic paddlewheelers and discovering charming river towns. From New Orleans to St. Louis, this historic waterway reveals tales of Mark Twain, antebellum mansions, and vibrant jazz culture.
  2. New England: The northeastern coast of the United States beckons with its quaint harbors, lighthouses, and picturesque landscapes. American Cruise Lines’ ships navigate through the waters of Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, allowing guests to explore historic towns like Newport, Martha’s Vineyard, and Bar Harbor. Fall foliage cruises are particularly enchanting, as vibrant colors adorn the shoreline.
  3. Columbia and Snake Rivers: Venture into the Pacific Northwest, where the Columbia and Snake Rivers intertwine. These waterways lead to awe-inspiring vistas, including the dramatic Columbia River Gorge, Mount St. Helens, and the Lewis and Clark Expedition trail. Guests can relish the natural beauty while learning about the region’s indigenous cultures and pioneer history.
  4. Alaska: Prepare for an expedition to the Last Frontier. American Cruise Lines’ small ships navigate Alaska’s pristine fjords, glaciers, and wildlife-rich waters. Passengers witness calving icebergs, spot humpback whales, and explore charming coastal towns like Juneau and Sitka. The Inside Passage and Glacier Bay National Park are highlights of this unforgettable journey.
  5. Puget Sound: Nestled in the Pacific Northwest, Puget Sound offers a serene escape. Sail past lush islands, visit Seattle’s vibrant waterfront, and marvel at the Olympic Mountains. American Cruise Lines’ itineraries explore this picturesque region, allowing guests to savor local seafood, visit historic sites, and enjoy the laid-back ambiance.
  6. Southeast Coast: From Charleston, South Carolina, to St. Augustine, Florida, the Southeast Coast cruise unveils a tapestry of Southern charm. Guests can explore historic plantations, stroll along cobblestone streets, and savor Lowcountry cuisine. Tangier Island, with its unique Chesapeake Bay culture, is a hidden gem on this itinerary.
  7. East Coast Intracoastal Waterway: This cruise meanders along the Atlantic seaboard, offering glimpses of iconic cities like Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. Passengers sail through picturesque waterways, passing historic landmarks, barrier islands, and charming coastal towns. The journey combines cultural exploration with natural beauty.
  8. Maine: Known for its rugged coastline, Maine invites travelers to discover its maritime heritage. American Cruise Lines’ ships explore quaint fishing villages, lighthouses, and Acadia National Park. Lobster feasts, rocky shores, and the scent of pine trees create an authentic New England experience.
  9. Florida: The Sunshine State’s Intracoastal Waterway cruise takes guests from Jacksonville to Miami. Along the way, explore the Kennedy Space Center, visit Amelia Island, and soak up the vibrant energy of West Palm Beach. Warm breezes, palm trees, and historic landmarks await on this coastal journey.
  10. Historic Mississippi River Cruise: Dive into the pages of history as you sail along the Mississippi River. From Civil War battlefields to antebellum mansions, this cruise immerses passengers in the stories of America’s past. The lively music scene and Southern hospitality add to the allure of this iconic waterway.


The cabins on American Cruise Lines ships are comfortable and well-appointed, with modern amenities and tasteful decor. The cabins feature comfortable beds, private bathrooms, and air conditioning, as well as windows or balconies that provide guests with stunning views of the passing scenery. The ships also feature a range of cabin categories to suit different budgets and preferences, from cozy interior cabins to spacious suites with private balconies.

The dining experience on American Cruise Lines ships is exceptional, with a focus on regional cuisine and fresh, locally sourced ingredients. The ships feature a range of dining options, from casual buffets to formal, multi-course meals. The menus are designed to showcase the flavors and ingredients of the destinations the ship visits, providing guests with a unique culinary experience. The ships also offer a range of beverages, including fine wines, beers, and spirits, as well as soft drinks and coffee.

The entertainment options on American Cruise Lines ships are varied and engaging, with a focus on enrichment and cultural immersion. The ships offer a range of lectures and presentations, led by expert guides and local experts, providing guests with a unique insight into the history, culture, and traditions of the destinations they visit. The ships also offer a range of activities and excursions, including hiking, biking, and guided tours, providing guests with the opportunity to explore the destinations they visit in depth.

The ships’ staff is attentive and professional, ensuring that every guest is well taken care of and has a memorable experience onboard. The staff is knowledgeable and experienced, providing guests with a safe and comfortable journey. The ship’s crew is also passionate about exploration and adventure, providing guests with a unique and authentic travel experience.

American Cruise Lines ships offer a range of itineraries and destinations, with a focus on the United States. The ships’ smaller size allows them to navigate narrow waterways and shallow waters, providing guests with access to destinations that larger ships cannot reach. The ships’ itineraries are designed to showcase the best of each destination, with a focus on cultural and historical landmarks, as well as natural wonders.

One of the standout features of American Cruise Lines is its commitment to providing a unique and immersive travel experience that showcases the best of American culture and history. The ships are designed to offer a personalized and intimate cruise experience, with a focus on adventure, exploration, and cultural immersion. The ships feature a range of amenities and activities designed to provide a luxurious and comfortable vacation experience, including spacious cabins, attentive service, and a range of dining options.

In conclusion, American Cruise Lines ships offer a unique and immersive cruise experience that combines intimacy and adventure with luxury and comfort. The ships’ smaller size allows for a more personalized and intimate experience, with a high staff-to-guest ratio and attentive service. The cabins are comfortable and well-appointed, while the dining options are exceptional, with a focus on regional cuisine and fresh, locally sourced ingredients. The entertainment options are varied and engaging, with a focus on enrichment and cultural immersion. The excursions and activities provide guests with the opportunity to explore the destinations they visit in depth. The ships’ staff is attentive and professional, ensuring that every guest has a memorable experience onboard. Whether you are a seasoned traveler or a first-time cruiser, American Cruise Lines is sure to provide a memorable and enjoyable vacation experience.

– Reviewed by Contributing Author Silvester Thomson

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N.B. – The information on this review has been compiled by contributing author and Cruise Expert Silvester Thomson for and is provided “as is” for the convenience of online readers. The Sources come from personal opinions, online research on official and unofficial websites, and in some cases with the help of AI generated content. It should not be taken as fact, as it can be mistaken or altered by future ship modifications from the cruise line done after review. does not and cannot verify all information and should not be taken as granted fact. All readers must take measures to find reliable facts by their travel agent or from the official page of the cruise line to verify any doubts.

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