American Cruise Lines’ (ACL) fifth ship is “right on schedule, if not ahead of schedule,” Timothy Beebe, vice president of marketing, told Cruise Industry News, and is expected to enter service in the third quarter of 2009.

The 114-passenger Independence, currently under construction at Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Maryland, is slightly larger than the line’s other four ships – which range from 49 to 100 passengers. The Independence will be fully stabilized – unlike any other ship in the ACL fleet – and 85 percent of the cabins will have private balconies.

As for itineraries, Beebe said the vessel is slated to sail the U.S. East Coast. “We are still working out the logistics, but the goal is to incorporate fresh itineraries for our repeat passengers,” Beebe pointed out. The last newbuild for ACL, which debuted in 2007, was the 100-passenger American Star. Connecticut-based ACL offers premium cruises on inland and coastal waters in North America. The company has also recently launched Pearl Seas Cruises for international cruise service