In days past, the very word ‘riverboat’ would evoke visions of elegantly named sternwheelers, wreathed in steam and smoke and laden with cargo and passengers, huffing their up and down the meandering Mississippi, piloted by the likes of Mark Twain and others who knew every bend, twist, shoal, and snag in the river like the back of his hand.
Those days are gone, but the Mississippi River remains with a new breed of riverboat plying its waters. Enter American Symphony and American Serenade, the two newest Modern Class riverboats to join American Cruise Lines’ Mississippi River fleet.
Built by Salisbury, Md.-based Chesapeake Shipbuilding for American Cruise Lines, the two riverboats are sisterships to American Melody, which went into service in 2021.
Each of the U.S.-flagged, 328-foot vessels is equipped with a pair of CAT 3512e marine engines operating at 1,810 bhp at 1,600 rpm; two Twin Disc Veth contra rotating azimuth thrusters; a pair of Twin Disc Veth tunnel thrusters. Electrical power is generated by three Cummins QSK19 500 kW generators and an Isuzu 4le223 kW generator.
Accommodating 180 guests, the boats feature 5 decks and offers private balcony staterooms, including suites and single rooms, spacious lounges inside and out, a grand dining room, fitness center, and a wellness-yoga studio.
The riverboat’s are designed with a patented opening bow and retractable gangway, and a 5th deck skywalk with an ellipse that cantilevers over the café below.
“Inland river cruising continues to show tremendous growth in Port NOLA’s cruise portfolio and this vessel is the latest crown jewel in American Cruise Lines’ fleet of modern riverine vessels sailing the Mississippi River from the city of New Orleans,” said Brandy D. Christian, Port of New Orleans President and CEO, commenting on the inaugural sailing of American Symphony earlier this year.
Announcing delivery of American Serenade, Announcing the delivery of the riverboat, Charles B. Robertson, president and CEO of American Cruise Lines, said the addition of the ship to the ACL fleet “shows our continued commitment to small ships for America’s rivers. She has the same spacious features as her five sisterships and a design package that wows everyone who boards.”
Chesapeake Shipbuilding and American Cruise Lines have a long history with the builder completing almost 20 vessels for Connecticut-based ACL. The company is currently working with American Cruise Lines to complete a 12-ship Coastal Cats series of boats specifically designed to cruise U.S. domestic waters.
The 100-passenger catamarans measure 241-feet in length with Cummins QSK19 Tier 3 heavy duty-rated engines. American Eagle – the first of the series – recently joined the ACL fleet, while American Glory is scheduled for delivery later this year.
Delivery of the next two Coastal Cats is planned in 2024. •