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Carol and Charles A. Robertson christening the first American Eagle, 1971

50 Years of Milestones

written by Charles B. Robertson | President & CEO

2024 will be another year of firsts for American Cruise Lines, and it is also time to reflect on the fifty years of milestones that have brought us to this point. My parents started with a tiny operation on the Connecticut River; my mom managed the ticket booth, while my dad ran the boat on hour long sightseeing excursions. Familiar with shipyards, both began building the first American Cruise Lines boat in 1972. By the late seventies, they started Chesapeake Shipbuilding and continued building the American Cruise Lines fleet. I recall well the small East Coast operation that defined so much of my childhood.

The first American Eagle in Maine, 1972

The pace accelerated in the new millennium. Over the last two decades, 18 of the 21 cruise ships that have been built in the United States were built by Chesapeake Shipbuilding for American Cruise Lines. We’ve become the largest domestic cruise line with a national breadth that drives me to learn more about our country every day. Our country never ceases to inspire and humble. On a starry night in the remote darkness of the Columbia River or gliding across a sparkling Chesapeake Bay, one is easily reminded that we travel America’s original highways. Every early explorer was also a seafarer, and one can’t help but feel that connection when traveling along the routes they pioneered. 

Charles B. Robertson

Last year saw many firsts. We introduced three new ships, proving to ourselves that three per year is possible. These included our new Coastal Cats, the shallowest draft cruise ships in the country, which are already pioneering new routes on the eastern seaboard. We’ve added the Tennessee River, offered and expanded itineraries on the Mississippi River, and introduced a new vessel to the Columbia River. We’ve also stepped ashore and have added land packages in five National Parks.

Last year’s exploration guides our optimism in the New Year. The programs pioneered in 2023 set a foundation to share these incredible experiences with more people than ever before. Additional new ships, continued refinements to our service standard, and additional new itineraries will make this year just as exciting as the last. We hope American Cruise Lines will be part of your travel plans and we are grateful for every guest who shares these wonderful experiences around America with us.