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Small Ship Cruising Across the United States

Small Ship Cruising Across the United States

By Alexa Paolella, American Cruise Lines
Photographs courtesy of American Cruise Lines

The interest and demand for small ship cruising has continued to grow across the globe over the past several years. Here in the U.S. the market has expanded tremendously, with many new small ships and exciting itinerary options available for curious travelers. One small ship company in particular has led the domestic expansion by doubling its small ship fleet and keeping its itinerary offerings domestic.

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American Cruise Lines now has 15 new small ships and riverboats which explore 31 states, cruising along U.S. rivers and protected coastlines. These small ships offer an array of specialized all-American experiences which are unique, fun, and convenient. Travelers who live in the U.S. can leave their passports at home. Some guests can drive straight to the ships, avoiding international travel hassles and flights.

American’s domestic itineraries celebrate the music, history, art, cuisine, and geographic diversity of the U.S. while always cruising within sight of land. The ships accommodate just 100-190 passengers and guests can customize their cruises according to their interests. American also employs an all-American crew and builds all the ships in the U.S. These new small ships offer amenities like 100% outward-facing staterooms, private furnished balconies, and three times the space per passenger on board as other cruise ships. And with more than 35 itineraries there is something fun for everyone, including special Theme cruises.

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A sampling of themes for 2022 and 2023 cruises:

For gardening lovers, American offers exceptional Tulip theme cruises which explore the Pacific Northwest, sailing through Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands. Each spring, guests aboard can enjoy the renowned Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, one of the country’s most magnificent floral displays at the height of bloom season. The cruise also includes special demonstrations and lectures both on board and on shore while cruising through one of the country’s most scenic and magnificent coastal regions.

Book worms might relish a Mark Twain theme cruise, where guests can explore the mighty river that served as inspiration for Samuel Clemens’ most famous novel. Complete with a true-to-life Mark Twain impersonator on board and a stop in Hannibal, MO, the writer’s boyhood home, these cruises are filled with literary fun.

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History buffs have lots to choose from, including a marvelous Lewis & Clark theme cruise along the Columbia and Snake rivers, where guests can follow the route of the courageous explorers and their unforgettable pioneering journey West. There are also Civil War theme cruises along the Lower Mississippi River or the Southeast Coast. On both, travelers can delve deep into the history of the Civil War as they visit battlefields, monuments, and museums that echo the stories of a definitive time in American history.

There are also American Revolution cruises, which explore the quaint towns and historic cities around the Chesapeake Bay, including Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown. These cruises also include a remarkable stop in Washington, D.C., where one of American’s small ships docks inside the capital and remains the only cruise ship to do so in over 63 years. 

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Foodies can try American’s Food & Wine cruises exploring the Columbia River Valley, an area which produces many of the country’s best wines. There are also Culinary cruises along the lower Mississippi river, which are perfect for those who enjoy gourmet cuisine with American, French Creole, and Deep Southern influences. All cruises host onboard experts who offer their expertise on wine, regional cuisine, and pairings, while accompanying guests to local wineries, distilleries, and local artisan food producers.

And for a summer culinary highlight, American offers Lobsterbake theme cruises which explore New England’s coastal towns, islands, and the picturesque shores of Maine. Summer cruises feature a variety of lobster dishes, and include a traditional New England lobster bake prepared fireside on the beach, featuring Maine lobsters, steamed clams, mussels, and more.

Music lovers can enjoy America’s many musical traditions and styles as they are celebrated and explored along melodious Music Cruises on the Lower Mississippi, between Memphis and New Orleans or Nashville. Guests enjoy VIP tours of Graceland as well as special onboard performances each night and guided shore excursions each day to the destinations that inspired a variety of American musical genres, from Bluegrass and Country to Rock ‘n Roll and Jazz.

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