Blog Archives

American Cruise Lines Launches New Mississippi Riverboat

New paddlewheeler launchedAmerican Cruise Lines recently announced the successful launching of the new paddlewheeler being built for the Mississippi River at Chesapeake
Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Maryland. The launching, which occurred on Sunday, went picture perfect. Immediately after being launched into the Wicomico River, tugboats skillfully nudged the new riverboat into Chesapeake Shipbuilding’s East Outfitting Basin where the upper decks and outfitting will be completed.

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Queen of the Mississippi to Receive Steam Calliope

American Cruise Lines has just acquired a 132-year-old Nichol steam calliope which will be placed aboard the brand new Queen of the Mississippi!

The Washington

The Washington


The historic instrument, which originated from the Washington, a paddlewheel steamboat (pictured) which operated on the Mississippi and Ohio River from 1880 to 1938, is being meticulously restored to full operation, and will then be installed aboard the Queen of the Mississippi. The calliope will not only serve as a delightful reminder of the golden era of steamboating and the grandeur of the historic steamboats of the late 1880s, but also as a fully-functioning steam-powered instrument, which will play familiar melodies and sounds as Queen of the Mississippi makes her way up and down the Mississippi River.
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New Lobsterbake Cruises Added for 2012

American Cruise Lines has just announced new Lobsterbake sailings on their New England Islands Atlantic coastal cruises.

Guests on the June 17, 23; July 28 and August 18, 25 sailings will enjoy a complimentary lobsterbake while exploring Newport’s Fort Adams. This classic New England feast includes succulent lobster, clams and mussels, freshly prepared right before your eyes.

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American Cruise Lines Building a Second Paddlewheeler

American Cruise Lines
American Cruise Lines is at it again. Based on the overwhelming response to its first riverboat, they just announced they will be building another brand new riverboat.

Construction has already begun at Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, MD, the same shipyard where its new 150-passenger Queen of the Mississippi is approaching completion. American Cruise Lines CEO Charles A. Robertson attributes the success of the company’s river cruise business to its “newer, low-density vessels, each built to meet the highest industry standards in comfort, safety and technology.”

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Smithsonian Magazine Introduces EvoTourism – An Evolution World Tour

In the January 2012 issue, Smithsonian Magazine is introducing Evotourism. The word isn’t in the dictionary. But they think it’s worth adding to the lexicon because it describes a new kind of travel.

evo•tourism (ē vō toor’ iz’ əm) n. travel intended to promote awareness of evolution.

The article celebrates ten desinationa that span 300 million years and six continents. The destinations include:

  • Kangaroo Island, Australia – Where the Wild Things Are
  • Foraminifera Sculpture Park, China – 330-Million-Year-Old Organisms
  • Wadi Hitan, Egypt – Whales Walked Here
  • The Cradle of Humankind, South Africa – Human Evolution History
  • Jurassic Coast, England – A Fossil Treasure Trove
  • Mendel’s Garden, Czech Republic – Where Modern Genetics Was Born
  • Ashfall Fossil Beds, Nebraska – The Prehistoric Pompeii
  • Isle Royale, Michigan – A Fight for Survival
  • Galápagos Islands, Ecuador – Where Darwin Found Natural Selection
  • Mount St. Helens, Washington – Life Begins Anew

Of these, the last two are destinations visited by small ships (which, of course, excites us at Sunstone Tours & Cruises).

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2011 Holidays Aboard Small Ships

Many people settle down with family during the holidays to catch up, and reconnect with loved ones. For a small group, the holidays are a perfect time to explore and experience the world.

Small ship cruises have been busy this holiday season, exploring diverse areas of our world, from the southern reaches of Antarctica and the South Pacific, up to the unique Galapagos Islands and Central America, and further to Europe and America’s southern Atlantic coast.

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5 Reasons to Cruise the Columbia & Snake Rivers with American Cruise Lines

Ever consider cruising the Columbia & Snake Rivers? Never consider it? Well, here’s five reasons why you should consider cruising the Columbia & Snake Rivers this coming Spring 2012, specifically aboard American Cruise Lines Queen of the West.

View details of American Cruise Lines Columbia & Snake Rivers itinerary…

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American Spirit – Newest Small Ship in Alaska

“One of the most comfortable and accommodating ships in Alaska”

One of my favorite small ship cruise operators, American Cruise Line, who I myself have sailed numerous times on their east coast itineraries, are bringing their 100-passenger American Spirit to Alaska, debuting in June of 2012.
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Cruise Report: American Cruise Lines – American Spirit – Day 6

Chesapeake Bay – St. Michaels, MD

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We arrived in St. Michales, MD last night and we are staying until the wee hours of Friday. We are docked in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. The largest collection of watercraft in existence – 76 boats scattered over 18 acres and 23 buildings. The American Spirit perfectly fits into the landscape and people come up to the ship thinking they can walk on and exlore as you can do with the other 76 boats in the museum. There is always a staff member standing out side explaining our ship, kinda fun when people in our exploration of town ask us what our ship is and where it goes.

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Day started with my breakfast of vanilla bean french toast covered in fresh berries. Then onto the 9am sailing on the EcoTour River Cruise out on the bay. We were introduced to all sorts of live critters by Kelly, our biologist. We were able to see in action what we have been told about all week. A waterman going for crabs in his little boat. They start around 4am and lay out a 1/2 mile long line with bait of chicken necks tied to the line every ten feet. When the crabs wakeup and are hungry, they smell the bait and hook onto the chicken neck. The waterman goes along and pulls up the line as he hangs over with a net to scoop up the crabs eating his bait. He does this while he is also running the boat as he is alone in the whole operation. Interesting to watch and I realize what a great education I have received on the life of the watermen which is the life of the Chesapeake Bay.    Read the rest of this entry

Cruise Report: American Cruise Lines – American Spirit – Day 5

Chesapeake Bay – Oxford, MD

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Woke up to glorious clear skies and a little less hot, not cool but less hot. We actually did not sail last night as I thought we would. Instead the plan was to stay docked and drive over to Oxford.

After breakfast we were offered a bus tour over to Oxford with a historian educating us along the way. I am sorry I can’t remember his name, but what a gem and source of information. He was born and grew up in Oxford and was able to tell us the changes over the years, and there were many.
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