While ocean cruising is still off limits, small-ship cruising is slowly returning to U.S. waters with first sailings by American Cruise Lines, which operates a fleet of river cruisers plying U.S. waters. All of its ships are under the CDC limit of 250 passengers and crew.
American Song began its first voyage Saturday on the Columbia and Snake rivers in the Pacific Northwest. That will be followed this Sunday by American Harmony on the Mississippi. By late June or in July the company hopes to have American Constellation, above, on a route along the Alaska coast.
The company's ships are all fairly new, and modeled on European river cruisers rather than the faux-paddlewheel ships of the recent past. They are sailing with 75% or less of capacity, allowing a third more space per passenger and allowing crew to have private berths. The company points out that each room has its own AC, and does not share common ducting.
Other anti-Covid measures include UV-C water filtration, touchless boarding and check-in and an offer to let passengers cancel without penalty for any reason up to 24 hours before departure.