American Canadian Caribbean Line is building another of its specialty vessels scheduled to enter service next summer.
The Niagra Prince will be 170 feet and accommodate 84 passengers. lt is designed and certified for service on America's inland and coastal waterways as well as the Caribbean and the Amazon, according to Luther Blount, President of the company.
Blount, who also heads up Blount Marine, the shipyard that is building the vessel, said that ACCL expects to carry 3,600 to 3,700 passengers this year and has seen a 16 percent annual growth in passengers in recent years. He also noted that ACCL has a 65 percent repeat rate.
Blount said he was not yet sure whether ACCL would expand to four vessels or whether it would sell one of the other three vessels, the 72-passenger New Shoreham II, built in 1979.
"We can build this kind of vessel or a small ocean-going vessel as reasonably as anybody," Blount said, adding that Blount Marine employes 60 to 70 people averaging 20 years of experience each in building and taking care of ships.
When asked what a vessel like the Mayan Prince would cost a customer to build, Blount answered: "Five-and-a-half to six million dollars."
The Mayan Prince, which was completed in 1992, accommodates 92 passengers and features a retractable wheelhouse which enables her to sail on domestic rivers and canals, as well as the Blount trademark, the bow ramp enabling passengers to walk off the ship right onto the beach. The Mayan Prince, which has a shallow six foot draft, also features a stem swimming platform, carries mini sail boats and a small glass bottom boat as well.
ACCL recently announced a series of new winter itineraries for the Mayan Prince. After a 12-day Antigua to Grenada cruise with stops at Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the ship moves to Bonaire for two 12-day cruises.
The Mayan Prince will next sail five cruises from Panama featuring Panama, the San Blas Islands, the Canal, Pearl Islands and the Darien Jungle.
Since 1946, Blunt has run Blount Marine, which has built some 300 ships, and he is credited with having developed the small, shallow-draft cruise ship.