I have traveled across the highways and byways of this great country of ours. During my younger years, it was by motor home. Today, it’s by car. During these trips, I would see other motor homes or behemoths, as my husband likes to call them. Specifically, I would see ones that said “Cruise America” on them. I always thought that this was a great concept. Rent a motor home and see America. But what about the places that one of those rigs can quite get to? There must be another way to see these areas that a vehicle is unable to reach.
Then one day, I saw an ad in one of my favorite magazines for a different way to see America, and I knew that I had finally found my answer. American Cruise Lines, unlike the big name cruise ships, had found a way to travel through the waterways and perfected the concept of “small ship cruising”. The company, originally started back in the late 1970’s, ran a modest cruise line that traveled up and down the east coast from as far south as Florida to the northeast coastline of Maine. They did this until 1989 when it went out of business. Today, the original owner is back at it again with a few more ships a little larger than before. They set sail on 12 different courses all along the eastern seaboard and a few inland waterways.
American Cruise Lines offers great trips on one of their five different liners, each ranging in capacity from 49 to 120 passengers. Their newest boat, the Independence was built in 2010, while their oldest, the Queen of the West was built in 1995. Despite the difference in years, these boats along with the others in the fleet have oversized staterooms, state of the art electronic features including Wi-Fi, over-sized lounges and single seating dining areas. The Queen of the West is actually the very first sternwheeler, or paddle steamer as they are more commonly known, to be built in the last 80 years and currently operating in the west.
American Cruise Lines offers boats with open decks and lounges with large glass windows. The relaxing atmosphere invites numerous opportunities to read, take a nap or watch the gorgeous scenery. However, the main highlight of each cruise is the exclusive ports of call with amazing shore excursions. These trips might include a two-hour trolley ride through one of the oldest and historic cities in the south, or a tour through one of our most beautiful national parks.
The cocktail hour at 5:30pm every evening is a welcome treat. This encourages passengers to mix and mingle along with the concept of open seating at dinner. American Cruise Lines feels it is important to offer the best dining experience possible. Highly trained chefs aboard each ship have designed menus to cause the most finicky pallets to salivate just by reading the evening selections. Dining is designed to be casual so no formal ware is ever needed. Special menus for passengers with dietary restrictions are available to those who need them.
The staff is all-American and offer customer service that is second to none. Each ship has their own on-board experts who give lectures and other presentations related to the individual cruises. These activities are designed specifically in mind to share the local history and culture of the areas that are being visited. So if you’re looking for a relaxing way to see America without getting behind the wheel, look for my continuing series on American Cruise Lines and their exciting coastal journeys.
Sources: www.wikipedia.org, www.americancruiselines.com, www.cruisecritic.com