American Cruise Lines will resume sailing on June 20th, making it the first cruise line to resume sailing in the US.
American Song will sail the Columbia & Snake Rivers on June 20. The seven-night itinerary will take guests from Portland, Oregon to Clarkston, Washington. Other ports of call include Astoria, Oregon; Mount St. Helens, Washington; The Dalles, Oregon; Pendleton, Oregon; and Richland, Washington.
American Harmony will sail the Mississippi on June 28 taking guests from Memphis, Tennessee to New Orleans, Louisiana over the course of seven nights. Ports of call include Vicksburg, Mississippi; Natchez, Mississippi; St. Francisville, Louisiana; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Oak Alley, Louisiana; and New Orleans, Louisiana. Both ships will sail at 75 percent capacity with American Song carrying 180 passengers maximum and American Harmony carrying 190 passengers maximum.
The company also hopes to sail to Alaska in late June or July on American Constellation.
Apart from sailing at reduced passenger capacity, other safety measures include:
- Independent HVAC systems in every stateroom
- UV-C Water Filtration Systems
- Touchless boarding and check-in processes that include a medical screening
- Increased time between cruises for full vessel sanitation
- Sanitation rounds conducted hourly
- Personal protective equipment for guests and crew
- Hand sanitizing stations
- No public bathrooms, guests will be asked to use their stateroom toilets
- Luggage sanitation
- Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres kept behind barriers and passed to guests individually
- Disposable covers on TV remotes
- Sanitation of touchpoints in staterooms
Dining practices will change as a result of enhanced safety measures. The dining room will have a reduced guest capacity, as tables and chairs will be removed to allow for social distancing. All dining tables will only be used once during each mealtime. If guests feel more comfortable dining in their staterooms, they can do that. In-room dining will be available upon request.
The ships in American Cruise Lines’ fleet typically allow 350 square feet of space per guest when operating at full capacity, in reducing the passenger capacity to 75 percent the ships now allow 450 square feet of space per guest. There is ample outdoor seating for guests to take in views as they sail down the river. For those who are still a bit uneasy being around other guests, each stateroom on American Harmony and American Song has a full private balcony. So, either way guests will be able to enjoy the outdoors as they sail.
Beyond sanitation measures and keeping low contact between guests and crew, American Cruise Lines will also house medical professionals on board. In addition to either a resident nurse or EMT on each ship, the ships will carry COVID-19 quick tests and have an Outbreak Management Plan in place to respond to confirmed cases of the virus. Finally, an allotted amount of staterooms aboard each ship will be kept sanitized and unoccupied in case they are needed for isolation purposes.
The crew has also been trained to identify COVID-19 systems, not just for guests, but also for themselves. All crew must be given a health screening both before and after every cruise.
Shoreside, American Cruise Lines will reduce coach and excursion capacities to allow for social distancing during rides and tours.
The company decided to sail in June after calling guests and asking if they would still want to cruise in June or if they would be uncomfortable. Those who said that they would be uncomfortable sailing this summer we able to take advantage of the line’s Cruise With Comfort policy.
The line’s Cruise With Comfort policy allows guests with new or existing bookings to cancel cruises for any reason up to 24 hours before departure on all sailings before October 31, 2020. If guests decide to cancel they will receive a cruise voucher that covers the cost of their sailing and allows them to rebook at a later date. For any cruises canceled by American Cruise Lines, guests were either offered a full refund or a 125 percent future cruise credit.
American Cruise Lines’ return to cruising is not only an important milestone as the first company to return to river cruising in the United States, but it is also an important milestone because it gives a glimpse into what cruising is going to look like as a whole when it does return. We will likely see many of the precautions and protocols that American Cruise Lines is using on other ships in the future.
For those of you who have responded to our surveys saying that you would be ready to sail again as soon as you were able, it seems that dream might come sooner than we originally thought.