Unlike most American river cruise ships, American Melody and its fleetmates eschew the traditional paddlewheel design that has defined river cruising along the Mississippi and other rivers since the days of Mark Twain. Boasting contemporary design and a sleek profile that blends an elaborate riverboat with a small intercoastal ship, American Melody offers a thoroughly modern river cruise experience through America's heartland.
Unexpected onboard features for a ship of its class include a soaring four-level atrium topped with a glass skylight, a forward-facing observation lounge, wall-to-wall windows in nearly every public room and an all-balcony cabin arrangement.
One key feature is the ship's unique bow, which swings open to reveal a retractable gangway that allows the ship to pull right up into places where more traditional cruise ships would be unable to dock.
Announced in August 2019, the 190-passenger American Melody is under construction at the Chesapeake Shipbuilding yards in Salisbury, Maryland. It makes its debut in late 2020.
Meals onboard offer traditionally American fare complemented by American wines and beers. All meals are served in the ship's open-seating dining room, and wine, beer and soft drinks are complimentary with lunches and dinners onboard.
Snacks are available in the ship's main lounge, and complimentary drinks and hors d'oeuvres are offered during a daily cocktail hour.
Room service is available for breakfast only.
American Cruise Lines prides itself on the spaciousness of its cabins, and for good reason: They're huge.
Continuing the tradition that began with the debut of American Song, the smallest cabins onboard are the ship's eight single-occupancy staterooms that come in at a spacious 250 square feet.
The accommodations only get larger from there, with the entry-level AAR staterooms with private balcony measuring 275 square feet.
At the top of the accommodations chain are two massive 800-square-foot Grand Suites and a trio of spacious, 645-square-foot Owners Suites, each offering full-size bathrooms, separate sitting areas, floor-to-ceiling windows and spacious private balconies.
There is one wheelchair-accessible cabin on Main Deck. All cabins feature ample storage space, private bathrooms, satellite TVs with DVD players and complimentary Wi-Fi.
Up top, American Melody features an expansive sun deck equipped with a putting green.
Onboard entertainment revolves around musical performances and guest lecturers. Most American Cruise Lines voyages are strong in this respect, offering an eclectic mix of musical styles, from jazz to blues to country and rock 'n' roll.
Guest lecturers and onboard historians provide itinerary and port-specific information, while onboard riverlorians touch on the unique history and culture of the vessel's sailing waterway.
Reading and quiet conversation are also popular pastimes on these voyages, which tend to attract a mature audience of cruisers looking to sail the heartland of America.
Exact itineraries aboard American Melody have yet to be announced. The vessel makes its debut in late 2020.
American Cruise Line's paddlewheel riverboat Queen of the Mississippi combines modern amenities with design elements reminiscent of the days when steamboat paddlewheelers plied the Mississippi River.
American Cruise Lines introduced the 104-passenger Independence in 2010. Some 75 percent of Independence's cabins have balconies. The ship has seven cabins for solo travelers.
The 120-passenger Queen of the West cruises the Columbia and Snake rivers in the Pacific Northwest. Itineraries include six-, seven- and 14-night sailings from Portland, Oregon.