Small Ship Cruising Along the Eastern Seaboard
Once again in my research for a client (as in many cases), I have come upon a product that just gets me excited. You must understand that being in the travel industry you are inundated with materials on everything from a bed & breakfast in the tiniest town to the very luxurious tent accommodations while on Safari, to the various cruise vessels that seem to enter into service every day. Every cruise line, tour operator, hotel chain, airline, resort, and tourism board from various destinations, etc., send information both in print and electronically. I would love to have the brain power to keep it all in the front of my mind – but just the enormous amounts of collateral, specials, promotions, the ‘what’s new and exciting’, makes it impossible to remember the many details. Don’t get me wrong – the information is important and necessary – just so very much of it.
Back to what I am excited about; my client was interested in cruising but not necessarily on a large cruise ship. We discussed options such as river cruising in both Europe and even Asia, and decided they wanted to be closer to home. We hit upon cruising American Cruise Lines (ACL). What was so exciting is that this cruise line has grown so much over the past 8 years and has come into its own during a time of mega ship boom.
ACL has four American built, flagged and crewed vessels. The American Eagle and American Glory each boasting 49 passengers and the larger American Spirit and American Star with 100 passengers. All vessels include spacious staterooms averaging 220 sq. ft. and many with private balconies. In fact those without balconies have large windows that open for one to hear the sounds and breathe the local air whether cruising along the Eastern Seaboard or along the rivers. More importantly (for some) no international flights, for that matter no flights at all are necessary.
The vessels are a bit boxy to look at from afar but once aboard the decor and ambiance takes over. They are very comfortable and yet elegant and are are designed to access the most remote passages and coves. Docking in exciting ports and quaint coastal villages each day.
Life on board is really about is about the ambiance and friendly atmosphere. There are really no daily activities planned on board except for 5:30 pm pre-dinner cocktails and an after dinner lecture which I understand are very lively and usually are well discussed. Each port allows for shore excursions (additional but nominal fee) many are walks around the port town with a local historian, a visit to local museums or area attractions.
The real attraction to this cruise line is its itineraries. Ranging from 6 to 14 night cruises, there are many to choose from along the eastern seaboard from Bangor, Maine to Sanford, Florida. Each port offers history, culture and natural beauty. Here is a glimpse of itineraries.
New England Islands –7 nights: Sailing round trip from Providence, RI , New Bedford, MA, the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, Bristol, RI, Fall River, MA, Newport, RI, and Block Island, RI.
Historic Antebellum South – 7 nights: Charleston, SC, Beaufort, SC, Daufuskie & Hilton Head, Island, Savannah, GA, St. Simon & Jekyll Island, GA, Amelia Island and Jacksonville, FL.
Maine Coast & Harbors – 7 nights: Bucksport, Bar Harbor, Rockland, Castine, Camden, Belfast, Bangor, ME.
Chesapeake Bay: 7 Nights: Baltimore, MD, Yorktown & Williamsburg, Crisfield/Tangier Island, VA, Solomon Island, Cambridge, Oxford, St. Michaels, and Annapolis, MD.
Hudson River: 7 Nights: Cruise from New York, up the Hudson River to Catskill, Albany, Kingston, Sleepy Hollow, NY.
Great Rivers of Florida: 6 Nights: Orlando (Sanford) along the St. John’s River, Palatka, Green Cove Springs, Jacksonville, Amelia Island, St. Augustine, FL.
Mid-Atlantic Passage: 7 Nights: Baltimore, MD, Norfolk, VA, Oriental, Morehead City, & Wilmington, NC, Myrtle Beach & Charleston, SC.
East Coast Inland Passage: 14 Nights: Baltimore, MD, Norfolk, VA, Oriental, Morehead City, & Wilmington, NC, Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Beaufort, Daufuskie & Hilton Head Islands, SC, Savannah, St. Simons & Jekyll Islands, GA and Amelia Island, FL.
Grand New England: 9 Nights: Providence, RI, Nantucket & Martha’s Vineyard Islands, MA, Portland, Boothbay Harbor, Bar Harbor, Rockland, Belfast, and Bangor, ME.
Each itinerary offers something different such as Lobster fest aboard the NE Islands cruise where Lobster is served in various forms every day. Depending on the course, the flavors will follow.
As you can imagine, there is limited availability due only to their size. There are staterooms that do accommodate single passengers at an additional cost. Fares range from $2800 per person, double occupancy. If you are interested in American Small Ship cruising – this may very well be an option for you.
Written by: A Gadabout Travel Staff Member