We recently returned from the Historic Antebellum South cruise on the American Spirit, one of the larger ships operated by American Cruise Lines. My first impression of the ship was good - we had a spacious room with a fair-sized private veranda. Unfortunately, things went downhill from there. The first meal served on the ship was lunch, and we were somewhat disappointed with the service in the dining room. The staff seemed very young and inexperienced. Drinks were never refilled unless you were able to flag down a server. While visiting with other passengers after eating, while waiting for dessert, the tables were being cleared of the condiments, placemats, etc. The staff would reach right across us and grab what they needed, with never an "excuse me" muttered. Very unprofessional, in my opinion.
The service did not get any better throughout the cruise. The hotel manager was a less-than-friendly young woman who seemed very put-out when asked questions. Instead of asking her questions about our destinations, I just used the internet instead - it was nicer! Our rooms were kept clean, but linens were not changed during the entire trip. I dropped a piece of chocolate on one of my pillowcases the first night, and the chocolate spot was still with me at the end of the cruise. I purposefully left the pillow on top of my bed several days, with the spot showing, just to see if it was changed.
The food was (sorry, chef!) awful most nights. This was a sentiment voiced by a significant number of passengers I talked with as well. Little flavor, strange pairings, not always hot when served..just not good.
The stops made on the cruise were okay, but I felt like we really had a lot of downtime. Our first port was Brunswick, GA, which apparently closes down evenings and weekends. There was absolutely nothing to do while sitting in this port, aside from the two excursions (which were over by 5 p.m.). Thankfully, the other ports had more to offer!
Overall, we did get to visit some fun places, and a few of the excursions were decent. I would highly recommend doing research and setting up your own tours though. The prices for most of the tours were much more expensive than if we had self-scheculed them.
I would definitely not book another American Cruise Line trip, but I am sure that it works for some. There were several repeat passengers on our cruise who were ready to sign up for more. I have been on two other smaller cruises (Delta Queen and Queen of the West), and the American Cruise Line doesn't hold a candle to the service offered on the others. The staff of the American Spirit could really use a lesson in customer service!