If you are want a relaxing informal "Small Ship" experience sailing within US waters with a great US crew, one of the American Cruise Lines ships will be the ship for you. Many of the passengers I have met on the ACL cruises feel the same as I do as they too have been repeat passengers. We always enjoy discussing our previous experiences, trips, and itineraries with American Cruise Lines.
Many of the cruises have had a local historian or naturalist on board, who keep the passengers well informed about the local history of the areas we visited.
ACL also arranges for sightseeing tours in most of the ports they visit, however if you are free to arrange you own "shore excursion" or just stay on board and relax.
While underway, my favorite "on board" activity is to sit on the sun deck and follow along with the Waterway's Charts for the area. Just think of a "Chart" as being your Roadmap if you were driving your car. I like to pin point exactly where we are by watching for the Channel Markers and buoy Markers as well as to try to locate the various Light Houses, Towers, Steeples, and Bridges which are marked on the charts as navigational aids. The ships also have an "Electronic Chart" or GPS in the lounge so that the passengers can follow along if they wish.
All of the crew members go out of their way to make your cruise a memorable experience. The staterooms are roomy, and comfortable with individually controlled heating and air conditioning. Each room also has Satellite TV, and large pictures windows. Many of the staterooms have a small balcony where you can sit and enjoy the scenery. All of the ships are equipped with a small passenger elevator and the crew members are always willing to assist with wheelchair operation on and off the ships.
In the past, I had always cruised with my mother and in some cases, other family members, however this most recent trip I felt completely comfortable traveling alone as a single lady.
If you are looking for a casino, swimming pool, or nightly "show" entertainment, American Cruise Lines is probably not for you, but if you want a nice relaxing vacation aboard a small cruise ship with other passengers who have the same interest, they cannot be beat. Most of the passengers are seniors, many of whom are retired.
I have already signed up from my next ACL cruise which will be the Potomac to Philadelphia itinerary in the spring of 2011 and I know I will sail on the Mississippi River aboard ACL's new boat in 2012. Can't Wait!!!