We had cruised three times previously on American Cruise Lines (ACL), and generally had good to very good experiences, although the cruises are expensive. So, we looked forward to this cruise along the coast of Maine. One of the big positives of ACL is the informality, ease of embarkation and disembarkation, and friendliness of the crew. Unfortunately, it was the worst of the four cruises by a wide margin. The food and service were not up to the level of previous cruises, and there was continual confusion about the itinerary, with last minute changes. Although you cannot control the weather, the captain seemed to be way to cautious. In the end, the visit to Bar Harbor was cut short by over a half day, and we skipped three ports completely (although passengers had the option to be bussed to two of them). The tours were not great, mostly either bus or walking tours of the ports. There were some highlights, like the Farnsworth Museum, and Main Botanical Garden, as well as several marine museums, but not enough interesting sights. The best meal of the whole trip was a lobster bake off the ship put on by a local company in Rockland. We did enjoy our fellow passengers, most of who are retired and very experienced travelers. This is definitely a "senior crowd", with the average age probably in the 70's (We actually had two passengers on board in their mid-90's), which might explain some of the caution on the captain's part with fog and moderate waves. The nightly cocktail hour is also a big hit with passengers, and the appetizers served then were usually quite good (often better than the subsequent dinner). Housekeeping was also generally good.
It appears to us that ACL is experiencing growing pains as it adds ships and itineraries, and the small number of experienced crew members are spread way too thin. Given the money we spent (~$5000 per person), we clearly did not get value for our money. We will give ACL one more try, but another negative experience would have us spend our money elsewhere after that.