American Cruise Lines Eyes Sag Harbor as a Stop on a Boston-to-New York Route - 27 East

American Cruise Lines Eyes Sag Harbor as a Stop on a Boston-to-New York Route

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A view of the harbor from Long Wharf.  DANA SHAW

A view of the harbor from Long Wharf. DANA SHAW

The web page for the American Cruise Lines

The web page for the American Cruise Lines "Yankee Seaport" excursion, which includes Sag Harbor on the itinerary.

From the American Cruise Line website, the itinerary for the Sag Harbor stop on the

From the American Cruise Line website, the itinerary for the Sag Harbor stop on the "Yankee Seaport Cruise."

authorStephen J. Kotz on Sep 12, 2023

American Cruise Lines, which specializes in coastal and river cruises on small ships with a capacity of about 100 passengers, has included the Village of Sag Harbor on the itinerary of its Yankee Seaports cruises, which are scheduled to weigh anchor next spring.

The company’s plans have caught village officials off guard, with those interviewed saying they were only just learning about them via the local rumor mill.

“I’m not going to make any special accommodations for them,” said Mayor Tom Gardella, who questioned if the company planned to tie up at Long Wharf or drop anchor out in the bay and ferry passengers to shore. If it is the latter option, he suggested there may be little he could do to stop them, comparing them to the many charters that visit the harbor each summer.

“How am I going to stop people from coming into the village?” he asked, suggesting it would be about as easy preventing cars from entering the village via Route 114.

Harbormaster Bob Bori said he was also just learning about the company’s plans, saying it had yet to contact him. “How they can advertise without permission is beyond me,” he said.

The weeklong cruises, which are advertised on the company’s website, americancruiseline.com, will depart from Boston and conclude in New York City, with stops at Plymouth, Massachusetts; Newport, Rhode Island; New London and Old Saybrook, Connecticut; and Sag Harbor and Port Jefferson along the way.

The trips are irregularly scheduled, with departures set for every few weeks from May through July 2, but weekly voyages are scheduled from September 25 through October 21 of next year.

According to the company’s website, ticket prices range from $5,030 to $8,010 per person, with all passengers accommodated in staterooms with broad views of the passing scenery.

Alexa Paolella, a spokeswoman for the company, which is based in Guilford, Connecticut, said American Cruise Lines caters to “mature and affluent” customers who are interested in exploring cultural destinations and would likely spend significant amounts of money in village shops and restaurants.

The company operates 17 small ships in 35 states, ranging from river paddleboats to catamarans.

“It’s important for people to understand that these are not like ocean-going cruise ships — they are riverboats,” Paolella said. “None of them has a swimming pool. None of them has a casino.”

She said the company took pride in the fact that it was American-domiciled and operated American-made ships.

She said she did not know what the company’s plans were for its visits to Sag Harbor, saying each boat has a tender that can ferry passengers ashore if there is no place to dock in the harbor. She said she would check with the company’s operations department to provide a more complete answer, but did not provide that information by Wednesday.

John Parker, a member of the village Harbor Committee, raised concerns about the possibility of cruise ships visiting Sag Harbor when the village amended its Waterways Law in 2021.

“I got pushback,” he said, because most people were envisioning large cruise ships, not smaller ones like the ones operated by American Cruise Lines. Parker added that concerns also were raised that if the village tried to regulate cruise ships, it would have to regulate all commercially operated charter boats that visit the village.

In the language that was eventually adopted, the Waterways Law now requires commercial vessels mooring or anchoring in the Outer Management Area for more than 24 cumulative hours in any one season to contact the harbormaster. It appears that the harbormaster has the leeway to require a permit application “or such other form as [he] may deem necessary based on the size of the vessel and type of activity, or as may be otherwise required.”

Parker added that another section of the law gives the Village Board the right to change designated mooring areas and the number and types of vessels that can be allowed there due to environmental concerns including “undue congestion or other hazards to the environment, public safety, marine life, or for any other reason.”

“I’d hang my hat on that,” he said, if the village wanted to restrict the company’s activities.

Trustee Aidan Corish said he would cast a skeptical eye toward the company’s plans. “How much do you degrade the quality of life to sell another ice cream or T-shirt?” he asked.

Trustee Bob Plumb suggested, tongue in cheek, that a firm response may be necessary.

“I live next door to the War of 1812 monument, and we may have to reform the well-regulated militia and get the cannons out again,” he quipped. “Dee Yardley [the director of public works] probably knows where they are. Worked against the British last time.

“I don’t think we can prevent a vessel from entering our waters, but a landing spot is a different matter,” he added.

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