Cruise & Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2023

FEATURED INTERVIEW Building in its own backyard American Cruise Lines’ Charles B. Robertson tells Susan Parker about the advantages of building and operating ships under one roof This year marks the arrival of the first two of 12 ships in American Cruise Lines’ ‘Project Blue’ series of 100-passenger Coastal Cat vessels, American Eagle and American Glory. “The blueprint started during the pandemic when we were hunkered down – looking for a reason to be optimistic, we put pencil to paper,” says Charles B. Robertson, the brand’s president and CEO. Although the ships are small, the project has had quite a short lead time which Robertson puts down to the fact that American and Chesapeake Shipbuilding have common ownership. “That relationship is the only reason why it is possible to roll out three ships [the third being riverboat American Serenade] in one year, even though two belong to an entirely new class of vessels. We have our own staff, naval architects and marine engineers who design everything that we build. There is a collaboration and understanding that rarely exists between the operators and shipbuilders.” This collaboration resulted in the ships’ unique hull which begins as a catamaran at the bow and transitions into a monohull at the stern. Explaining the reason behind the design Robertson says: “We wanted the ships to have “ We wanted the ships to have stability for the coast and a shallow draught for rivers and inter-coastal waterways” Photo: American Cruise Lines 57 American Serenade will begin sailing cruises on the Mississippi river in April 2023