American Cruise Lines: Preparing for American Symphony cruise

My brother Joe lives in Durango, Colorado. I live in Bloomington, Indiana. As the last two in a large family of nine, Joe and I try to get together every year. But it is not always easy.

We both have busy lives. Joe is a professional drummer with regular gigs. I am a journalist. So, suddenly, it can seem like a year has passed and our planned visits haven’t happened.

This year, however, we have made reservations to cruise for a week on the new American Symphony from Memphis to New Orleans. Joe will fly into Memphis from Colorado and I will fly in from Indiana. We will meet at The Guest House at Graceland for the two-day pre-cruise “Elvis Experience.”

Guest House at Graceland

American Cruise Lines has an excellent program where passengers arrive one night early for a cruise and stay at a local hotel. With the way airline flights can be delayed or cancelled, that is a smart feature to make sure that cruise line passengers have extra time to get to the cruise departure destination.

Plus, that extra night or two allows passengers a chance to see the host city, get a good night’s sleep, eat breakfast and leisurely board the riverboat. As a musician, Joe is interested in seeing Graceland and, as a long-time Elvis fan, I am always happy to return to Memphis and discover something new.


Why the American Symphony? Because she is the newest riverboat to cruise the mighty Mississippi River. In addition, the Symphony is a beauty and I’m looking forward to seeing what she offers. Since Joe has never cruised before, I’m curious what his fresh eyes will think of a cruise on American waters.

American Symphony features contemporary design

Inaugurated in Natchez in August, American Symphony is the newest ship in American Cruise Line’s eagerly anticipated series of contemporary riverboats. The first modern riverboats ever in the United States are showcasing several pioneering innovations on America’s waters.

“American Cruise Lines led the last decade of Mississippi River cruising, and with new riverboats like American Symphony, we look forward to leading the next one,” Charles B. Robertson, president and CEO of American Cruise Lines, said in a news release.

“We remain committed to introducing new small riverboats each year which enables us to deliver personalized all-American river cruises along the country’s most iconic river,” he said.

Founded in 1991, American Cruise Lines specializes in small-ship coastal and river cruises throughout the United States. With the most cruise options in the USA, American Cruise Lines prides itself on “Small Ship Cruising Done Perfectly.”

Historically, it seems fitting that the American Symphony was formally launched in Natchez and will claim the city as her official godmother city. Each American Cruise Lines vessel is a traditional USA-built (at Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Maryland) as well as American-flagged and crewed.

“We have many new luxurious riverboats and a record number of guests who are excited to explore the Mississippi River with us,” Frank Lipsch, American Cruise Lines director of city partnerships & special projects, said in a news release.

“The demand we are seeing is due in large part to the beautiful new riverboats but also to the long-established relationships American Cruise Lines has with the ports and towns along the entire river,” he said. “These relationships help us to consistently deliver authentic American experiences, which are curated and led by local experts, guides and community members whom we have worked with for many years.”

From Memphis to New Orleans

On our cruise, Joe and I will be going from Memphis to Vicksburg and Natchez in Mississippi; St. Francisville, Baton Rouge and Houmas House in Louisiana before ending our cruise in New Orleans.

American Cruise Lines has already announced what’s new for 2023, including three new ships, 10 new itineraries, 21 new ports and 17 small ships exploring both U.S. coasts and all the rivers in-between.

In 2023, the American Serenade – sister ship to American Symphony – will be launched on the Mississippi River in April. American Eagle will join in August 2023 and American Glory will debut in October 2023, both sailing East Coast itineraries.

Among the new 2023-2024 itineraries will be the company’s first-ever California cruise, an 8-day round-trip San Francisco Bay Cruise which highlights Napa and wine cruises. Then there’s the exciting new 15-day National Parks & Legendary Rivers itinerary which includes an 8-day day cruise on the Columbia and Snake rivers and a 7-day exploration through three national parks – Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton.

Keep an eye on the American Cruise Lines website ( ) to see all the fun cruises coming up and perhaps book a dream cruise for the New Year.

Meeting in Memphis

Since Joe’s flight arrives in Memphis about four hours before mine, I told him he would have no trouble recognizing the complimentary shuttle from the airport to The Guest House at Graceland. Just look for the sleek blue-and-gold van with huge likenesses of Elvis on the sides and back.

Complimentary airport shuttle to The Guest House at Graceland

Then Joe and I will meet at The Guest House for a cocktail hour in the Founders’ Room and an after-hours backstage look at Graceland which is part of our pre-cruise experience.

Hope you will come along to see what Joe and I discover and what a first-time cruiser thinks about the new eye-catching American Symphony and cruising a week on the Mississippi River.

Photos by Jackie Sheckler Finch

*American Symphony now cruising Mississippi River

Photo courtesy of American Cruise Lines

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7 Night – Lower Mississippi River Cruise from.. American Symphony (


Day 1 Memphis TN
Day 2 Day of River Cruising
Day 3 Vicksburg, MS
Day 4 Natchez, MS
Day 5 St. Francisville, LA
Day 6 Baton Rouge, LA
Day 7 Houmas House, LA
Day 8 New Orleans, LA


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