New paddlewheeler to ply the mighty Mississippi

The newest paddlewheeler being built to ply the waters of the mighty Mississippi River launched August 7, three weeks ahead of schedule.

The upmarket paddlewheeler America is being built for American Cruise Lines at Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Md. Following the launching, which comes just weeks after the joining of the two hull sections, tugboats nudged the new riverboat into Chesapeake Shipbuilding’s East Outfitting Basin where the upper decks and outfitting will be completed.

Artist's rendering of America
With the installation of the upper decks, the new riverboat is expected to come together quickly, and upon completion will be the third new riverboat built for the Mississippi River by American Cruise Lines. It is scheduled to begin navigating the Mississippi River and its tributaries in the spring of 2016.

The America will be American Cruise Lines’ eighth ship and its second brand-new vessel this year. It will have a capacity of 185 passengers and will introduce features unique among riverboats, according to the company.

“American built, American flagged and American crewed, this new vessel symbolizes the true all-American experience,” the cruise line said in a statement announcing the launch.

Construction of the new Queen of the Mississippi is also underway. That vessel is slated for delivery in 2017.

Mississippi River cruises range from 7-day sailings to a 22-day, 21-night journey from New Orleans, La., to St. Paul, Minn. As of this writing, fares for a seven-day cruise leaving from and returning to New Orleans ranges from $8,900 to $14,800 for two people while tariffs for the complete Mississippi River cruise range from $32,700 to $42,400 for two, according to the cruise line's website.

American Cruise Lines, the largest U.S. cruise company, operates the newest fleet of riverboats and small cruise ships on more than 35 itineraries around the U.S. including the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, New England, the Southeast and the entire Mississippi River system.

American Cruise Lines is highly regarded by its guests as well as the industry in general and has received multiple awards including Porthole Reader’s Choice Awards in 2014, World Travel Awards “World’s Leading River Cruise Company” in 2014, “Gold Award Winner” for Travel Weekly’s 2014 Magellan Awards and was a 2014 finalist for Condé Nast Traveler's Reader’s Choice Awards.

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Image provided by American Cruise Lines
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