American Cruise Lines adds personalized coaches for passenger comfort and safety
By Jackie Sheckler Finch
Here comes the American Cruise Lines coach rolling down the road. The road?
Yep, the popular riverboat line has added personalized private coaches for the convenience and safety of passengers. It certainly is easy for American Cruise Lines passengers to identify their special bus when it pulls up.
The new sanitized cruise coach has the American Cruise Lines logo with the red, white and blue stars and stripes and the words “Cruise Close to Home.”
“All American Cruise Lines’ Mississippi River cruises now have these cruise coaches following the ships and providing private transportation to all shore activities,” said Alexa Paolella, American Cruise Lines public relations manager.
“The cruise coaches are hop-on hop-off and provide private transportation to and from airports as well as to all shore excursions and destinations guests wish to go,” Paolella said. “American will also be adding these cruise coaches to all Columbia and Snake River cruises as well.”
By having its own private coaches, American Cruise Lines will be able to ensure that the coaches are sanitized and that other COVID-19 safety precautions are taken.
Another benefit of the new coaches is that they follow the vessel along its cruise itinerary route. That really makes sense – not only because it is nice to see familiar coach drivers and guides but also because it assures that the coach will actually be there.
Reliable coaches important for passengers
Several years ago, I was on a Mississippi River cruise with another cruise line where passengers climbed a steep hill in the July heat to catch a scheduled bus for a tour. An hour went by and the rented bus hadn’t arrived. When the cruise director called the bus company, she learned that they had forgotten about the reservation and would be happy to send a bus on its way. Too late.
Not a good thing. That tour was cancelled, of course. Passengers were unhappy because they had looked forward to the tour and had to stand waiting in the heat for more than an hour.
Cruise line representatives were unhappy because their passengers were not pleased and because the cruise line had to refund tour fees to passengers.
And that bus company sure got a serious black mark against its reputation.
Preparing to cruise again as soon as safely possible, American Cruise Lines has not been faced with some of the problems that large ships must overcome. “Social distancing on our ships is truthfully very easy. We do not have to deal with the structural design issues and reconfiguring issues the big ships are going to have to work around,” Paolella said.
American Cruise Lines’ 12 ships have a small passenger count – between 100 to 190 passengers – and will be cruising at 75 percent capacity as a COVID-19 precaution. In addition, the ships offer some of the largest staterooms in the industry plus private balconies and no interior cabins on any ships. American Cruise Lines’ ships have an independent HVAC air system in every cabin and all interior spaces with no shared duct work.
Large staterooms with soothing decor
On my American Harmony cruise last November, my stateroom was larger than many hotel rooms. It had a roomy shower, mini fridge, Keurig coffee machine, phone, big screen TV and large floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors leading to my private balcony. The ship offers free Wi-Fi and my cabin had adequate plugs for electronic devices.
The cabin décor featured soothing colors of light blues and earth tones. A desk with a chair, a round table with two upholstered chairs, plus a table and two chairs on my balcony gave plenty of places to sit and read or watch the river flow. A dresser with six drawers and a closet were great storage spaces. The bed was super comfy with premium white linens, duvet and pillows.
Exploring the ship, I was happy to discover all the wide-open spaces with expansive glass windows galore. The Dining Salon on the Main Deck had table-to-ceiling views and open seating at every meal. Additional alternate outdoor dining areas also are now available.
“American Cruise Line has never had big theatres, casinos, swimming pools or any other highly condensed/high touch point areas on our small ships,” Paolella said. “American Cruise Lines’ ships are purposely-designed with multiple spacious indoor lounges as well as multiple outdoor lounge areas – both shaded and sunny – with many wide-open deck spaces for reading, relaxing and enjoying fresh air and views of passing scenery.”
American Cruise Lines builds its ships in the United States and designs them with guests’ preferences and a destination-focused cruise style in mind, Paolella said. “We have always catered to a mature sophisticated demographic who appreciate the spacious comfort and layout of our small ships.”
New pandemic precautions
Other pandemic precautions include a new partnership with Vikand Solutions with nurses and EMTs on board as well as on-board testing, enhanced sanitation processes and other protocols listed on the American Cruise Lines website.
With the new private coaches, American Cruise Lines passengers can feel comfortable that they will be transported in style and safely from the pre-cruise airport to the ship, on shore excursions and post cruise airport transfers.
“We continue to monitor and manage all the pandemic changes,” Paolella said. “American Cruise Lines remains ready to welcome our passengers onboard and to get back out on the water as soon as it is safely possible.”