American Cruise Lines (www.americancruiselines.com) has announced plans to double it’s fleet of US flagged passenger vessels. The Guilfort Connecticut based purveyor of near coastal themed cruises will soon be the largest US flagged operator- in terms of vessels operated.
Competitor Cruisewest is currently in the lead with 5 ships- having obtained several when Clippper went out of business. American Cruise Lines formerly had 3- but has announced the purchase of the Queen of the West sternwheeler from Ambassadors International- parent company of the now defunct Majestic America Line.
The purchase of the QOTW marks the beginning of West Coat operations for the company. The company plans 2 (?) more ships- the 104 passenger “Independence” scheduled for completion in 2010- http://www.americancruiselines.com/ships.php?ship_id=18, and their website references an unidentified vessel (or vessels) which will operate on the West Coast.
It is possible that the other vessel(s) are the Columbia Queen or the Empress of the North- which were also operated in the area until last year by former competitor Majestic America Line.This would put them at at least 6 vessels- giving them the most of any US flagged cruise operator.
This would put them at at east 6 vessels- giving them the most of any US flagged cruise operator.
The nature of small ship cruising largely precludes competition from foreign flag competition which has reduced the large ship US cruise industry to 1 vessel. NCL’s 920 foot “Pride of America” is the sole survivor of a fleet that once included 3 ships. The other two- “Pride of Hawaii” and “Pride of Aloha” were both withdrawn from the fleet and re-flagged as foreign vessels.