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American Cruise Lines

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A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to do a ship inspection of the American Star while it was docked at Baltimore's Inner Harbor. The American Star is owned and operated by American Cruise Lines. The American Star is a small ship, holding only 100 passengers at maximum capacity. It entered service in 2007.

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The American Star was preparing to head off to a cruise that would tour the Chesapeake Bay visiting St. Michaels, Annapolis, Cambridge, and Williamsburg among other stops. The clientele of American Cruise Lines is much older than the main stream ocean cruise lines like Carnival or Royal Caribbean. The average age of clients is 72. For a small ship, the cabins were much larger than expected, all at least 200 square feet. All staterooms have satellite TV and DVD. Every cabin also has an emergency button in case of serious medical emergency. It sounds an alarm heard throughout the ship and also notifies the bridge which cabin needs assistance. Given the average age of the passengers, this is a nice feature.The ship has a single dining room which is large enough to accommodate all guests at a single seating. There are several small lounges, and there is nightly entertainment. Exercise facilities are on board as well as a putting green. There is complementary Wi-Fi access as well.

In addition to the Chesapeake Bay, the American Star cruises up and down the East Coast of the United States, including cruises on the Hudson River, the New England islands, Charleston, SC and the historic South among others. Pricing is a bit higher than the entry level ocean cruise market, but on par with the more upscale small ship market. Before dinner every night there is a complimentary cocktail hour and during dinner, wine and beer is complimentary as well.

The staff ratio is approximately 1 staff member for every 2 guests, so personal service is to be expected. Other ships in the American Cruise Lines fleet sail in Alaska, the Columbia and Snake rivers, and the Mississippi river, the latter being a paddlewheel ship. These cruises would be perfect for the retired couple that just wants a relaxing cruise without the hustle and bustle associated with the major ocean cruise lines, and with very few, if any children on board.