(11 a.m. EST) -- With its first modern river cruise boat set to launch this fall, American Cruise Lines has begun construction on the next vessel in its planned five-ship series.
The second ship, to be named American Harmony, will debut in summer 2019 and will sail on the Mississippi River. The ship is being constructed at Chesapeake Shipbuilding, the shipyard in Salisbury, Maryland, that has the same owner as the cruise line.
The series of modern cruise boats, which will kick off with American Song in October 2018, are a departure for American riverboats. Most vessels plying American rivers are paddleboats, either new or refurbished. Instead, American Song -- which will launch on the Mississippi River and then move to the Columbia and Snake rivers in the Pacific Northwest in 2019 -- will look more like an European river ship, with a four-story glass atrium, glass-walled observation lounge and private balconies for every cabin.
"American Cruise Lines revived U.S. river cruising in 2010 and is now is transforming U.S. cruising with these innovative new riverboats," said Timothy J. Beebe, vice president of American Cruise Lines, in a press release. "They are unlike anything other cruise companies are doing and the interest has been phenomenal."
--By Chris Gray Faust, Senior Editor