I've taken reviews about the one I'm about to write with a grain of salt, figuring that the reviewers were new cruisers, had too high expectations, got in a snit over one incident, were generally sour people, etc. I hope that this review is not one of those, it's issued as a warning to those who are reviewing taking an unusual trip around the New England area after having done Europe and other itineraries to death.
So, you want an overpriced cruise where Â½ the crew was just hired last week, has never worked in a restaurant before, much less on a cruise ship and is therefore clueless? You want a ship so small that it can't handle two-foot swells, much less, (God forbid) 4 foot or 7 foot? You want a cruise where your itinerary gets changed pretty much every day? You want a ship that has intermittent electrical and air conditioning problems? You want a ship where you're told that the ship would dock at all the ports only to have 2 ports tendered thereby stranding some of the elderly and infirm on-board? American Glory is your ship!
Launched twelve years ago, the ship is in need of a refurb and full of quirks. With a 50 passenger compliment, it's got some of the largest cabins I've ever seen in over 20 years of ocean, lake and river cruising. It floats like a cork in a bottle and wallows over every little bump in the ocean. My wife has only been seasick once in all of our cruises until the infamous "bingo storm" of August 10. The ship has no telephone in the cabins, leaving no way to contact each other room to room or the ship, a constant worry due to our having two of our party in their mid-80s and frail having no way to contact the ship's crew when they stayed aboard on several ports. There is no dedicated bar (simply too small) although a table was set up in the lounge every day at 5:30 for cocktails. There is no front desk, only a small office that was not manned very often, so your needs for your cabin often had to wait to be filled until you could track someone down. The free internet is less than intermittent, which everyone pretty much understood would happen in extremely rural areas, but it was a pain and even in ports where you would think there would be good access, you had to sit down right next to the mobile hot spots in the public areas to connect.
The local expert was a charming and knowledgeable man, Jeremy L'entremont, one of the world's foremost experts on lighthouses. There were several lighthouse tours and if lighthouses are your thing, Jeremy is your bobo. The other nightly entertainment options were a combination of singer/storytellers of unknown quality (didn't go to any of them) although one simply failed to show and we were shown Jaws instead, which was a nice touch since we were in Martha's Vineyard at the time, which was the locale for the movie.
The ship's brochure showed an ambitious 10-day itinerary.
Bar Harbor Maine
Boothbay Harbor Maine
Martha's Vineyard, Mass
Nantucket Island Mass
Although there was the standard "we reserve the right to change the itinerary for any reason" warning, the ship should just have listed all of the possible stops and said "we'll go to several of these places, but if there is any rough weather at all, all bets are off."
Our Actual Itinerary:
Boothbay Harbor Maine (immediately informed upon leaving Portland that Bath was supposed to be next but would be skipped due to rough seas).
Turtle Neck Cove (stayed overnight in protective remote cove)
Castine Maine (this was actually on the pre-trip itinerary that we got a few weeks before the trip but not on the printed itinerary when we signed up for the trip).
Bucksport Maine (two days, one of which involved an hour-long bus ride to Bar Harbor)
Martha's Vineyard (we arrived in the morning with no announcement that we were skipping Nantucket)
New Bedford Massachusetts
Other than the forced overnight in Turtle Neck Cove and the time spent in the deadly dull Bucksport (the Penobscot Narrows Observatory was worth an hour but the ship didn't arrange trips to it so we did it on our own) the stops all had some interesting things in them and some were very charming, Belfast being my favorite. Pam, the overworked and young cruise director worked tirelessly to line up new tours and cancel old ones when the Captain made his decision to change the itinerary again and again, largely with success. The ship was in a no-win situation as it is clearly NOT a ship that has any business plying the seas that it is out on, and God forbid that we should have tried to make Bar Harbor in 7 foot swells, like our unfortunate sister ship, American Spirit, endured. Yet, the 4 foot swells we rode on August 10 out of "Perfect Storm" Gloucester showed that even those seas were not anticipated by the crew. Books, pop cans, liquor bottles, TVs, lamps, food and ships equipment went to the floor or rattled around like the crew had never encountered rough seas. The Assistant Hotel Director (an INTERN) was laughably attempting to hold a bingo game for about 45 minutes when the boat was rolling around like a dog trying to scratch his back on the ground. Finally the Hotel Manager Shawn (who was never around) cut off the festivities (after one of the guests fell trying to come up to the front of the room to claim his bingo prize) and we went through three more hours of gut wrenching wallowing on our way to what we thought would be Nantucket but turned out to be Martha's Vineyard.
The ship's crew tries hard within their capabilities. They seemed willing but only the Captain and the First Mate seemed like they would be able to handle an emergency. The serving crew was a mixture of great, OK and truly terrible. The kitchen director, Wilmary knew that and rotated the staff among the tables on a daily basis. Half of the staff had been hired the week before and one of the crew quit by the end of the week after only working one week. They seemed to be mostly hired out of job fairs in Colorado and Oklahoma. They spent a lot of time looking at the ocean and saying "wow." The food was excellent and abundant although trying to get a bottle of wine that wasn't on the "free" list was a chore even though we were willing to pay for it.
The electricity went out for one whole morning -- the crew didn't inspire much confidence in the electrical system where, in order to get the ship's generators to function again, not only did they shut off all passenger's air conditioning, but also UNSCREWED THE LIGHT BULBS IN THE HALLWAY! Clearly there are some capacity issues with the electrical system or maybe it is just worn out after 12 years.
Late in the trip the air conditioning went out with no explanation and no one having a clue as to when it would be fixed. Lunch that day was a Bataan death march with a temperature that must have been near 90 in the dining room. When the air conditioning was working it was often too cold, but better that than eating in your skivvies.
The crew did their best to accommodate us that evening when our group got served en plein air on the observation deck for an anniversary party. The air conditioning was still not fully fixed over 24 hours after the outage started and we disembarked in Providence.
I've heard other people say that other American Cruise Lines ships and tours, for example the Columbia River trip were exceptional. Not so with this one. They need a bigger boat and need a better crew.