Why Is There Only One American Cruise Ship?

If you’ve ever looked at the fine print regarding a cruise ship, you’ll find that the vast majority of the ones that sail to, from and around the United States are registered outside the U.S.. Whether it’s Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian or even as-American-as-apple-pie Disney Cruise Lines, their ships, along with over a thousand other cruise ships, tankers, bulk carriers and cargo ships, are registered in the small Bahamian capital of Nassau, while others may be registered in Panama, Bermuda, Italy, Malta and the Netherlands.

Why this is the case all comes down to one thing – money. Who’s surprised? Anyone? Bueller?

However, there is one (and only one!) ship that’s registered in the U.S. The reason why makes perfect sense, once you hear it. Take a look…

Pretty interesting, huh?

However, I’ll tell you that from 1980 through late 2001, there was another U.S. flagged cruise company, called American Hawaii Cruises. It was started for the same reason as Pride of America – to cruise around the Hawaiian islands without having to stop in another country.

PC: Pinterest / Cheryl Rosenbetty

The reason I know this is because Joe and I were supposed to take a cruise around Hawaii on one of American Hawaii Cruises’ ships, the Independence, during our honeymoon in February 2002. Unfortunately, American Hawaii Cruises filed for bankruptcy in late 2001, following the September 11th terrorist attacks.

The bad news was that we had already paid for our cruise when this happened.

The good news was that we had gotten travel insurance (WHEW!),

The bad news was that we had gotten the travel insurance through American Hawaii Cruises, so it was null and void (UH-OH!),

The more good news was we had charged the cruise on our AMEX, so we put it into dispute and got our money back (SO THERE!).

And the best news was that we still went to Hawaii. The travel agent we used felt bad for us and somehow got us a travel agent rate at a fancy hotel on Maui, to go along with the rest of our Hawaiian honeymoon that we somehow put together with very little time ;-).

And the Independence? It sat in San Francisco for a whole lot of years before it was left to languish off the coast of India.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

6 thoughts on “Why Is There Only One American Cruise Ship?”

  1. There was a second American Hawaii Cruises ship, the Constitution. She now lies at the bottom of the ocean north of Hawaii.

    Plus, NCL did have the Pride of Aloha and Pride of Hawaii here too. Both were given an exception to US law, as they were built by Meyer Werft in Germany. But, NCL pulled them from service and left the Pride of America. I hear the ship isn’t so good either. I’ve never ridden, but I’ve been told that the design is a little top-heavy, making her more prone to pitching, etc.

    NCL was supposed to refurbish and refit the SS United States for service under NCL America too, but that never happened. In fact, IIRC, they tried to scrap the American icon. I think the whole setup was a ruse by NCL to get their one ship for Hawaii-only cruises.

    1. Yep – American Hawaii Cruises had a small handful of ships, all told. 3 or 4, I think? I only mentioned the one we were supposed to go on, since the main topic was Pride of America. FWIW, in 20/20 hindsight, I’m glad we didn’t take that cruise in 2002 – I think we would have been disappointed, and frankly, I love the stuff we wound up doing on our honeymoon.

      Didn’t know about the NCL history. But then again, I’m not super big on cruises. Been on a handful. 5, I think? 6? It’s OK.

      1. Yeah, those AHC ships looked, um, dated? Granted they were actual ocean liners and not cruise ships.

        The whole NCL story blew here in Hawaii when it first happened. Especially since there was so much regulatory concessions given to NCL for promises that they couldn’t possibly keep. Needless to say, local tourism officials weren’t to happy when NCL pulled everything but the one ship.

        Personally, never been on a cruise, though I’d like to. Alaska tops my list right now, but I’m not sure what line i’d choose.

      2. 2 of my 5-6ish cruises have been to Alaska, coincidentally enough. Holland America catered to old people (but I’m an old soul and LOVED having access to a 5000 piece jigsaw puzzle 24/7 LOL). Disney catered to a little bit of everyone…as long as you liked Disney, you were good. As a childless couple, we enjoyed the fact that if you didn’t want to see kids, you rarely had to 😉

        But excursions were essentially the same, TBH. Salmon fishing (which ROCKED). Helicopter ride (if the weather held out. It rarely did). Dogsled ride. etc.

  2. Thanks for the info! I think we’re leaning towards Disney, but I’m not sure when we’ll pull the trigger. We’re trying to convince some cast member friends to go along to get their rate lol

    1. Disney CM rates used to be awesome but now they’re few and far between. We have a friend who used to go all the time because he could get it so cheap, but now it only goes once every coupla years. So good luck! 😉

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