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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
Returned from a 6 night New England Island cruise that departed from Providence, RI to celebrate my 60th birthday. We went on a Star Clipper cruise a couple of years ago and realized we really like smaller ships. The Independence has a ... Read More
Returned from a 6 night New England Island cruise that departed from Providence, RI to celebrate my 60th birthday. We went on a Star Clipper cruise a couple of years ago and realized we really like smaller ships. The Independence has a capacity of about 100, though there were about 74 on our cruise. We found the cruise caters to a much older crowd than what we were looking for. Our fellow passengers were all very nice, but the average age seemed to be late 70 to 80s and some older than that. Of the approximately 74 passengers maybe 10 were under 65. The cost for the cruise is at a premium, and probably not worth the price. We had an infinitely better experience on Star Clipper for about the same cost. The biggest complaint we had, which may not be an issue to others, is there is no bar on board. Drinks at lunch and dinner with a happy hour before dinner. We've found in the past that we enjoyed getting to know fellow passengers over drinks. You could get a beer from the dining room afterward, or passengers took the leftover wine from dinner. But we were terribly disappointed at the lack of a bar in what is called "the lounge" on these ships. Arrived a day early to visit with a friend in Providence. Stayed at the Wyndham Garden which is within walking distance of the embarkation point for the ship. Unfortunately the Wyndham Garden is undergoing a major renovation to convert it to to a Hilton, so there was no restaurant on site. They did provide a shuttle if you wanted it. Embarkation on the Independence was effortless: drop off your bags and go to your room. Bag was delivered within minutes. The staterooms are large, though nothing spectacular. We stayed on the third level and had a balcony and a window that slip open. Though on a cruise you tend to stay in your room only to change and sleep. The ship was nice enough. Other reviewers commented on the dated decor, which I didn't notice too much, but my wife did. Fabric on a chair in our room was torn, the sofas in the lounge (more on that later) were like those at Grandmother's house. The crew was terrific from the Captain to the wait staff. The crew was all from the US and the wait staff work very hard both serving meals and cleaning rooms. Meals were generally very good. All meals are open seating at set times, though an early breakfast is available. A little awkward in that you choose your lunch and dinner selections at breakfast. They will prepare something just for you if none of the three (at dinner) selections are to your liking. Entertainment was marginal. Good lectures about upcoming ports of calls, etc. Other entertainment was along the lines of Dean Martin and Andrews Sisters imitators, a very rude sea shanty singer, bingo, etc. Ports and excursions were all at an additional charge, at least until you sail 3 or 4 times with ACL. For some bizarre reason we spent an entire day in New Bedford, MASS, which had little other than an outstanding whaling museum. Contrast that to a short stay in Newport, RI where there were several things to see and do and little time to do them. You could tell that this was the first cruise of the season as there were several hiccups such as proper docks for the ship's shuttle. Also, the ship seemed to dock at locations that weren't accessible to the most interesting parts of the islands. An example is Martha's Vineyard, where you need to take a bus or taxi to Oak Bluffs where restaurants and shops are located. This cruise is NOT recommended for children because they would be bored to tears. Frankly I probably wouldn't recommend it to anyone much younger that 65 or 70. Perhaps I'd recommend this cruise in 20 years but I wouldn't not right now; price too high for what you get and the activity level is way too low. Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
We had a great week on the American Spirit. I will admit that I was someone hesitant that this cruise was going to be anything other than mediocre after reading some of the reviews. I only have to surmise that those folks just can't ... Read More
We had a great week on the American Spirit. I will admit that I was someone hesitant that this cruise was going to be anything other than mediocre after reading some of the reviews. I only have to surmise that those folks just can't be pleased. Here are some overall comments from our experience. The most important being - my husband and I who are in our 50's had a wonderful week of peace and quiet. We took walks together when on shore and met some truly wonderful people. If you're looking for casinos and a 24 hour bar, this isn't the ship for you. But if you are looking for a perfect trip to shut off the phones and just watch some spectacular views from your balcony - this is the ship. This is a very understated cruise, which was perfect for us. 1. Food. Food was great. With the exception of a dry pork chop one night - overall the quality of the food was excellent. You are able to special order to some extent if you don't like what's on the menu. It is a set menu and you do make your choices in the morning. Keep in mind this is a small ship so they carry everything. 2. Activities. There is a speaker that goes on the cruise who is very educated about the area and gives talks at different points in the cruise. Our speaker also led several tours. The evening activities are kinda bad. So my best advice is to skip it and sit up on the observation deck or enjoy your balcony. Tours were good. 3. Service. This is where people get unnecessarily mean. The staff is comprised of college students who are serving 13 week internships. They are young and they will goof occasionally (forgetting your toast or serving right to left). But they are enthusiastic and hard working. Some will go on to terrific careers in the hospitality industry, others won't. One of our favorites on the ship is preparing to enter the Peace Corp. Another one was so excited to have landed his first big interview with an airline because of the internship and was excited to share that he had gotten his first car and apartment. It really is part of the charm of the cruise to interact with these young adults. 4. Management. Is excellent. Every effort is made to accommodate the passengers. The director of western operations made two different appearances on our cruise to inquire earnestly about where they could improve. My only response was "I want a coffee maker in my room." 5. WiFi. WiFi isn't particularly great. But we didn't have a problem because we used my husband's phone as a hotspot. Which would be my suggestion to all who need to get online. Overall we had such a great time. So good that we before the cruise was over we booked the Juneau roundtrip for 2017. Even booked the same room! There is always room for improvement - but overall we think it was money well spent. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
The shore excursion were good as was the food. The toilet situation needs some overhaul which I understand is coming at the end of the season. The staff is very attentive and tries hard to please the passengers. If you don't like ... Read More
The shore excursion were good as was the food. The toilet situation needs some overhaul which I understand is coming at the end of the season. The staff is very attentive and tries hard to please the passengers. If you don't like large portions of food ask for a half. Our cabin was good sized but have enjoyed the newer ships more. This trip was our fourth on this line. The naturalists on board was excellent and made the trip more enjoyable as was the variety of musical offerings. I personally liked my side day trip to Victoria, BC where I enjoyed tea at the Empress Hotel. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
We embarked from a dock very near to the St. Louis Gateway Arch. The walk down to the boat was somewhat steep but assistance was offered and we left our luggage with crew near the roadway. River travel is laid back and easy. We ... Read More
We embarked from a dock very near to the St. Louis Gateway Arch. The walk down to the boat was somewhat steep but assistance was offered and we left our luggage with crew near the roadway. River travel is laid back and easy. We had only one morning of rain so we had a lot of time to watch as the captain and crew navigated the five story Queen through the many locks on the Mississippi as well as through the many different lift or swinging bridges. It was warm and comfortable most of the time to sit out and watch. We often arrived early to the next port of call. Chairs and tables on deck were plentiful. Snacks and beverages including sodas were always available. One could even do laundry if desired at no cost at the self-service machines provided. There were daily talks with the Riverlorian who was always on board and available often on the top deck. Steve Marking and Joanna Funk provided not only on-board musical entertainment with help with wildlife sightings and identification of birds. Joanna also played the calliope when we left ports and also for the Sunday morning hymn sings. The cocktail hour each evening was a highlight and the Hors d'oeuvres served were excellent and plentiful. We had more food on the cruise than needed! I thought it was a great touch that we could choose to have half portions at a meal. We always found the meals delicious and we had some choice as to entrees. On the downside, as a diabetic, there were limited dessert options for me. Although I met with one of the chefs to discuss ideas, those were not always available. We enjoyed different entertainment not only at cocktail hour but also after dinner each night and many were very good and entertaining. We also were up top on the 5th deck the evening of the eclipse ... and yes, the clouds opened up to be able to see a good amount of it. I would recommend the American Cruise Lines for a truly Americana venture such as the Northern Mississippi Cruise we took. They have other interesting river cruises as well. This was our first trip with them and we would consider them again. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
The catalog seems to be different from what we received on the cruise. We complained when the air conditioning did not work properly, toilets did not flush, could not get a bottle of water and public bath room was dirty. There were four ... Read More
The catalog seems to be different from what we received on the cruise. We complained when the air conditioning did not work properly, toilets did not flush, could not get a bottle of water and public bath room was dirty. There were four couples that complained and the cruise line sent a director of hotel operations to talk with us on the fifth day of the cruise. He listened to our complaint and said he was sorry and would see if he could do something for us once he talked to the home office and would get back to us after the cruise. That was 9 days a go so I feel like I was lied too. We were told the college age people working the ship were on 12 weeks contracts and than let go, that's why we felt service like eating at a IHOP and the place was dirty. We have been on river boat cruises in Europe that cost the same $10,000 that have been fantastic and twice as long for the same amount of money. The food was OK but for the cost of the 7 days I thought it could have been much better. We felt this cruise was a waste of money. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
We embarked the Queen of the Mississippi in New Orleans, this was our first small boat cruise, what a wonderful experience, no lines or waiting EVER. The boat went north on the river up to Memphis, they had interesting & informative ... Read More
We embarked the Queen of the Mississippi in New Orleans, this was our first small boat cruise, what a wonderful experience, no lines or waiting EVER. The boat went north on the river up to Memphis, they had interesting & informative shore excursions that were included in the price for the most part, except for Graceland in Memphis. The rooms were very roomy and comfortable and all have a deck with table & chairs, the service on this boat is excellent by everyone on this boat. The food was wonderful, they offer have cocktails & hors de oeuvres 5:30-6:30 and then dinner! After dinner there is always entertainment by different performers. They offer breakfast, lunch & dinner selections & you can also get half portions. The nice thing about this cruise is your not slammed with a bill at the end for alcohol, shore excursions etc. This is an older crowd as there really isn't much to do for younger children, no pools, clubs, activities etc. We liked it so much we booked another cruise with them for next year & would recommend it to anyone. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
All in all the cruise was a total delight and we were treated very well. Not only did the waitresses and crew make the trip pleasurable, we fit in well with the age group of the passengers. We were celebrating an early 36th wedding ... Read More
All in all the cruise was a total delight and we were treated very well. Not only did the waitresses and crew make the trip pleasurable, we fit in well with the age group of the passengers. We were celebrating an early 36th wedding anniversary. The ports were close together - every day we were at a different destination so the trip was very enjoyable and educational. Southern US up the inter-coastal waterway was picturesque for the most part. However, the meals, excursions and nighttime lectures from 7am to 9pm kept everyone busy. Excursions were informative - not learned much of this part of the South in Northern US schools. We are looking forward to the Mississippi River Cruise from St. Louis to St. Paul. Thank-you for a great trip and cruise. Will the other American Cruise Line trips be as delightful - we sure will be comparing them to the Independence. Read Less
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