American Cruise Lines, American Queen Steamboat Company are first lines to resume sailing in US waters

Two U.S. small ship lines are quietly resuming cruising this weekend, marking the first 2021 sailings back on the water and among the few that have cruised at all in North America since the global pandemic shut down cruising last March.

Both lines, American Queen Steamboat Company and American Cruise Lines, have ships that are small enough to bypass the current CDC orders against sailings. The lines are also American flagged, with American crew, and are thus able to sail in American waters without a stop in Canada or another foreign port.

Because their size gives them more flexibility, both lines had made plans to return to service at various points in 2020, but the unpredictability of the pandemic quashed those efforts.

The only cruises that sailed last year in North America were a few voyages on the St. Lawrence River in Canada by St. Lawrence Cruise Lines; a truncated Maine summer and fall season on two schooners, Stephen Taber and Ladona; and an attempt at a Caribbean season out of Barbados by SeaDream Yacht Club, which was cut short by COVID-19 cases.Here is the return plan for both lines.

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