American Melody

Specifications of American Melody

Year built2021 new ship
BuilderChesapeake Shipbuilding (Salisbury, Maryland USA)
ClassModern Riverboat
Building costUSD 30 million (EUR 25 million)
OwnerAmerican Cruise Lines Inc
OperatorAmerican Cruise Lines
Speed12 kn / 22 kph / 14 mph
Length (LOA)82 m / 269 ft
Beam (width)17 m / 56 ft
Gross Tonnage5400 gt
Decks with cabins4
Sister-shipsAmerican Symphony, American Serenade
Christened bytba
ACL-American Cruise Lines Coronavirus update

American Melody Review

Review of American Melody

The 2021-built MS American Melody cruise ship is the fourth newbuild in the American Cruise Lines fleet from the company's "Modern Riverboat" series. From this class/with the same design are the sisterships American Symphony (2022) and American Serenade (2022).

Similarly are designed the sisterships American Song (2018), American Harmony (2019), American Jazz (2020).

History - construction and ownership

The shipowner American Cruise Lines (ACL) is the USA's largest river cruise company (headquarters in Guilford Connecticut) operational since 1991. The company specializes in cruise shipping on the USA's largest navigable inland waterways (rivers and lakes) as well as in cruises along the US East Coast, US West Coast and Florida. All ACL vessels feature some of the industry's largest passenger cabins with private balconies, spacious lounges and outdoor deck spaces, gourmet cuisine, top-quality enrichment program with many complimentary land tours and excursions, highly-personalized service by all-American staff and crew.

All ACL cruise ships are USA-flagged and built by the company-owned Chesapeake Shipbuilding Yard in Salisbury (Maryland USA).

Unlike anything seen before along American waterways, the innovative vessel brings a new dimension to river cruising in the United States. American Melody integrates contemporary design without sacrificing the comfort that American Cruise Lines is popular for. Quieter, wider, and faster than any other river ship, it is the most environmentally friendly in the industry.

Traditionally for large-sized USA riverboats, American Melody has a fore-located boarding ramp (bow-location on Deck 1) that allows passengers to go ashore at any place along the ACL's cruisetour itinerary. The ramp has an innovative design being constructed as a retractable gangway (passenger bridge). The technology is often implemented on some of the largest ferries and features an opening bow door.

MS American Melody cruise ship

While other small cruise lines repurpose old casino ships, American Cruise Lines decided to build brand new boats to maintain the company's reputation for premium quality and services. Each of the newbuilds features most innovative design, spacious indoor and outdoor areas. Each vessel is a traditional US built (at Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury Maryland), as well as American-flagged and crewed.

Decks and Cabins

American Melody staterooms (91 total) are all outside, some of the industry's biggest, all with full-size bathrooms, private step-out balconies, modern hotel amenities.

All staterooms are with step-out balconies. The smallest are the Studios (single-occupancy cabins for solo travelers) sized 250 ft2 (23 m2). Cabin sizes range between 275-315-350-370 ft2 (26-29-33-34 m2), balcony size included. Veranda Suites are sized 405 ft2 (38 m2). The largest accommodations are the Grand Suites (650 ft2 / 60 m2) and feature top-deck locations (forward on Deck 4), separate bedroom/living room, spacious terrace (with alfresco dining area).

The boat has 5 passenger-accessible decks, of which 4 are with cabins.

Shipboard facilities and amenities

MS American Melody features innovative interior design concepts - from the 4-story glass-walled Vestibule (Atrium) to spacious indoor and outdoor lounges, large open-deck spaces, floor-ceiling windows throughout the vessel. The 4-deck Vestibule has floor-ceiling windows (portside and starboard) and a SkyLight (transparent glass-roof cover) that allows natural light into the ship's interior.

American Cruise Lines Modern Riverboat (sundeck)

Two Sun Deck is fitted with sunbathing and shaded seating areas, but unlike the bigger sisterships, it lacks the deck-games area (with Putting Green and Shuffleboard). The ship has 6 lounges (3 with outdoor terraces), Grand Dining Room (complimentary, glass-enclosed restaurant), Chart Room & Library, fore-located Main Lounge (with a central stage for live shows and musical productions, and with a glass-roof cover), aft-located Sky Lounge (with glass-roof cover and access to an alfresco dining terraces/Ellipse Cafe), Fitness Room (indoor Gym), Yog Studio (for group classes and private lessons).

The Sun Deck (top-deck) is furnished with plenty of outdoor furniture - padded sun loungers, padded wicker sofas and deckchairs, 2-seat and 4-seat tables, live plants. The Sundeck has all 3x large-sized shaded seating areas (covered by retractable canopies) and 2x SkyLights (glass roof covers) over the Sky Lounge (aft) and the Atrium/Vestibule (midship-portside).

The list of the American Melody ship's main public venues includes:

  • (Deck 1) Boarding Ramp/bow, Vestibule/lobby level, Ship's Office, Dining Room Restaurant, Galley/Kitchen & Storage Rooms, Staff & Crew cabins/forward
  • (Deck 2) Bow Terrace/observation area with seating, Lyric Lounge/midship-starboard, wellness facilities/aft (Yoga Studio, Fitness Room/indoor Gym)
  • (Deck 3) River Lounge/forward, with a wraparound terrace, The Study & Library/midship-starboard
  • (Deck 4) Pilothouse/Wheelhouse, High Note Lounge/midship-starboard, Sky Lounge (indoor, aft), Ellipse Cafe (aft, outdoor terrace serving as an alfresco dining venue)
  • (Deck 5) Sun Deck with plenty of outdoor seating (premium patio furniture)

Two Lifts (passenger elevators in the Atrium) connect all decks.



American Melody itinerary program is based on homeporting in New Orleans for Mississippi River voyages. The new boat started service for ACL with the Inaugural Cruise on August 27, 2021 (8-day roundtrip from New Orleans). The maiden season also featured the 21-Day "Complete Mississippi River Cruise" (New Orleans to St Paul MN) visiting ports in the states of Louisiana (Oak Alley Plantation, Houmas House Plantation, Baton Rouge, St Francisville), Mississippi (Natchez, Vicksburg, Greenville), Tennessee (Memphis), Missouri (New Madrid, Cape Girardeau), Illinois (Chester), Missouri (St Louis, Hannibal), Iowa (Fort Madison, Davenport, Dubuque), Wisconsin (La Crosse), and Minnesota (Red Wing, Minneapolis-Saint Paul).

ACL cruise deals are inclusive of a pre-cruise hotel package, all shore excursions (organized daily), cocktail hour (each evening), cruise accommodation, gourmet meals, Afternoon Tea service, room service (Breakfast only), onboard enrichment and entertainment programs, Wi-Fi (shipwide coverage).

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The improved ship design of the Modern Riverboat series allows "bow landings" via a retractable and rotating gangway (passenger bridge) that extends from Main Deck (deck 1) to the dock or directly onto the river bank. This feature is available on all traditional-design US paddlewheel riverboats and provides expanded options for river cruise itineraries unmatched by most newbuild river cruise ships.

American Cruise Lines new ship infographic

The ship has a modern propulsion system consisting of 2x azimuth thrusters ("Z-drives") manufactured by Veth (Holland). These 360-degree rotating propellers (1x forward, 1x aft) provide the boat with greater maneuverability and berthing flexibility.

The ship is powered by 2x Caterpillar marine engines running on low-sulfur diesel. These modern engines require less fuel and produce fewer emissions (COx, NOx, SOx) and soot particles in comparison to other boats on the US river cruising market.

All American Cruise Line's Modern Riverboats are constructed at the Chesapeake Shipbuilding yard in Salisbury MA. During the launch ceremonies, the vessel's hull is floated out from drydock into Wicomico River, then it is positioned in the shipyard's East Outfitting Basin to receive the superstructure (upper decks) and final outfitting.

American Melody was launched (floated out from drydock) on November 17, 2020.

In mid-June 2021, ACL signed with Chesapeake Shipbuilding the contract for constructing two more units (5th and 6th) of the "Modern Riverboat" series, expanding ACL's fleet to 15 vessels (5x small, 4x paddle-wheelers, 6x modern riverboats). ACL also announced plans to continue building small ships (100-190-passenger) designed for USA coastal itineraries.

American Melody was officially delivered to ACL on August 3, 2021. On the same day were announced the names of Modern Riverboats 5th (American Symphony) and 6th (American Serenade) - being under construction at Chesapeake Shipbuilding- both planned for inauguration in 2022.

Melody's Maiden Voyage was scheduled for August 27, 2021 (roundtrip New Orleans 6-day Mississippi River itinerary).

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