American Cruise Lines introduced the 104-passenger Independence in 2010. While the passenger capacity is roughly the same as the 100-passenger American Star and American Spirit, Independence is larger, giving more space to the interior areas, including the cabins and balconies. Unlike Star and Sprit, Independence is also fully stabilized, with Rolls Royce stabilizers, allowing for smoother sailing.
The ship spends the summer sailing roundtrip from Portland, Maine, trawling Maine's coast and harbors. In the fall, it offers a handful of leaf-peeping cruises on the Hudson River before heading south for a series of "Historic South & Golden Isles" cruises from Jacksonville and Charleston.
Activities onboard are tied into the destination, and may include a visit with a local lobsterman in Maine. Or, while on southern sailings, costumed antebellum characters may entertain cruisers.
The casual atmosphere is intended to foster camaraderie between fellow passengers, and all meals, which feature fresh meats and seafood, and in-season fruits and veggies, are taken open seating. Open decks and glass-in observation lounges allow for views of the passing scenery.
Some 75 percent of Independence's cabins have balconies, and all have flat-screen satellite TV's and DVD players. The ship has seven cabins for solo travelers.
Passengers tend to be senior Americans, with few, if any, families or children.