American Cruise Lines (ACL), which already operates a fleet of 15 passenger cruise vessels along 35 domestic itineraries in 31 states, has announced plans to build 12 identical ships that will focus on coastal cruising in the United States. The company is calling it “Project Blue” and is describing the vessels, which will feature a hybrid catamaran design, as a “new fleet of go-anywhere ships for the U.S. market.”
The ships will have accommodations for 109 passengers and 50 crew members and will measure 241 feet by 56 feet. American Cruise Lines President and CEO Charles Robertson said the fleet will be focused on small towns and shallow waterways.
“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,” Robertson said. “These boats can run almost anywhere, and because there will be 12 of them, they will be deployed all over the United States.”
The 12 new cruise ships will be built at Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Md., the same yard that has built all of American Cruise Lines’ other vessels. It’s continuing a build program that’s also seen a fleet of what American Cruise Lines calls “modern riverboats” plying the nation’s inland waterways.
“Together with Chesapeake Shipbuilding, we built the first modern riverboats in the country,” Robertson said. “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.”
Each new vessel will feature décor by Miami, Fla.-based Studio DADO. Most of the 56 staterooms will have private balconies. Observation areas will be at the bow and stern, with a forward lounge that will feature 270-degree views. The sterns of these ships will have an adventure deck. ACL will have two dining venues on each boat, along with room service.
ACL will name the first two Project Blue ships the American Eagle and American Glory after the company’s first two small U.S.-built cruise ships.