February 7, 2001
When Coastal Voyages’ Cape May Light -- the new line’s first cruise ship -- debuts in May, it’s offering an itinerary that might be considered unique today...but was anything but in the pre-founding fathers’ era. Cape May Light, a 228-passenger destination ship, will begin sailing with 7-night voyages through the Chesapeake Bay region, a fascinating part of the mid-Atlantic that sees more freighters than cruisers. Cape May Light’s inaugural itinerary could be considered a history lesson with sailings from Norfolk (port for trips to Jamestown and Williamsburg), on to Cambridge and St. Michael’s, Maryland, an overnight in Old Town Alexandria (jumping off point for Washington, DC), Baltimore, and through the Chesapeake and Delaware canal before reaching Philadelphia. Coastal Voyages is part of that sprawling American Classic Voyages Co. -- one that has so many spin-off lines that even we get confused. Others include United States Lines, which just launched with their first ship, the Patriot, which used to be Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam. There’s American Hawaii Cruises, a one-ship fleet with the industry’s grande dame (circa 1951) Independence. And there’s Delta Queen Steamboat, which plys America’s heartland, complete with paddle wheel and calliope. With two ships (Cape Cod Light debuts later this year), Coastal Voyages, which prides itself on being destination, rather than onboard, oriented, most reflects Delta Queen in tone and style. The new ships, built in American shipyards, lack paddlewheels (though there’s a smokestack) but feature interiors that are big on ye-olde Victorian design. Like Delta Queen there are no casinos or onboard spas. One distinction: cabins are outfitted with newfangled amenities such as in-room televisions.