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8 American Cruise Lines Repositioning Cruise Reviews

Northwest Pioneers Columbia & Snake Rivers Cruise October 9 – 21, 2019 Portland, OR – Wednesday - Monday, October 9 - 14 Just to catch up a little, today (Monday) we are back in Portland for the day, returning from our ... Read More
Northwest Pioneers Columbia & Snake Rivers Cruise October 9 – 21, 2019 Portland, OR – Wednesday - Monday, October 9 - 14 Just to catch up a little, today (Monday) we are back in Portland for the day, returning from our trip down the Columbia River on Friday to Astoria, spending the night and all-day Saturday. This ship, American Song, is only one year old and is absolutely beautiful, carrying only 185 passengers. My single balcony stateroom 409 is quite large and comfortable; this is one of the main reasons for choosing this cruise line, their availability of single staterooms. The food is exceptionally good and the wine flows freely; every afternoon there is Happy Hour in the lounges where an open bar dispenses whatever your heart desires! Saturday in Astoria I took two different shore excursions, one in the morning and a second in the afternoon. A three-hour tour out to Fort Clatsop started the day; this is the location where Lewis and Clark wintered in 1805/6 on their legendary excursion of discovery from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean. Having been rebuilt several times, the present structure is an authentic reproduction of their meager housing. Then in the afternoon I took a tour across the Columbia River to Cape Disappointment which is located high above on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the 5-mile wide mouth of the Columbia River and the legendary Columbia Sandbar, the “Graveyard of the Pacific”. It was here that Lewis and Clark first gazed on the object of their trip across the West. Both locations visited were equipped with excellent visitors’ centers. Then yesterday we journeyed back up the River to the town of Kalama where in the afternoon we traveled for an hour and a half to a visitors’ center near Mount St. Helens and the view of the absolute devastation that occurred when this volcano “blew its top“ on May 18, 1980. Of course in the 40 years since, the destruction has disappeared to a small extent with new growths of trees, but it is still clearly evident of the total destructive effects of the gigantic blast when the volcano blew, leveling forest for up to 19 miles away and loosing over 1300 feet of its elevation. Unfortunately, we could not view the snow-covered peak because of a cloud layer but from our observation point at the visitors’ center, the expanse of the destruction is still quite evident. A truly awesome view to behold! Returning to our riverboat we then cruised the remaining distance up the River back to Portland where we again spent the night moored next to the Red Lion Hotel, where I spent two nights preceding the beginning of this cruise. My flight from Orange County Airport on Wednesday afternoon was a quick 2-hours and, after a rather lengthy and expensive taxi trip from the Airport to the Red Lion Hotel, I was pampered in a huge room at this new hotel and convention center, just across the Columbia River from Vancouver, Washington. Breakfast was included but I also enjoyed dinner on the two nights before boarding our riverboat that was moored just adjacent to the Hotel. So, the trip has started out quite good with good cool but clear weather so far; rain is forecast for later in the week, unfortunately. Tomorrow we are in Stevenson, Washington, where we will pass through our first set of locks on the Columbia River. Portland, OR - Monday, October 14th Our full day again in Portland for me was one of leisure since the previous two days had been so active. I decided NOT to take advantage of the boat’s free shuttles into downtown Portland where the main attractions seemed to be Powell’s Bookstore - the nation’s largest, and the International Rose Rest Garden. On the first day of the cruise we had listened to a presentation of shore excursions available to us during our 10 days and were then asked to fill out a sheet listing our choices, some complimentary and others for a fee. Lists were checked at the departures of shore excursions and only those participating were actually charged for those at a fee. My two previous days’ shore excursions in Astoria were both for a fee. One unusual feature of our docking on Sunday at Kalama, WA, for our 1 pm trip to Mount St. Helens was HOW we docked, face into the shore with the bow of this new ship, the American Song, raised up to reveal an entrance/exit into the ship! Most unusual! The first time I have seen such a feature on any riverboat. After departing the boat, we just walked up the slope to the waiting buses. Stevenson, Washington - Tuesday, October 15th Docking this morning in this rather small town, there was nothing much that interested me ashore, so I remained aboard until late afternoon when I walked off and up into their Main Street where I found a bar open and enjoyed one of the 28 different kinds beers. Then it was back aboard. The big activity of the day was a presentation at 11 am of the “American Experience” where was discussed the variety of future cruises offered by American Cruise Lines and also their sister company, Pearl Seas Cruise Lines. By booking aboard during a cruise one would receive a 15% discount plus waived port charges and fees, anywhere from $300 to $500. A substantial savings from the usually rather expensive fares! The one remaining cruise offered by ACL in which I was interested is the “Grand Puget Sound” cruise, 11-days, RT from Seattle, so I expressed my interest in such. Upon checking, the Cruise Director Courtnay discovered ONLY ONE available Single Stateroom 312 on this cruise for the ENTIRE YEAR of 2021! So, I grabbed it! God knows if I will still be around by then, however! Also, of interest on this day was the second of our Guest Lecturer Ian’s “Lewis & Clark” lectures. These have been both enjoyable and informative. Ian is from Australia and is an excellent speaker. His talks always draw a full house audience. Hood River, OR - Wednesday & Thursday, October 16th & 17th Having spent the night docked in Stevenson, we departed at 5:30 am headed farther up the Columbia River to Hood River, OR. Again, I decided to skip the morning tour to the Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum, which I learned later were really interesting. Oh well... My choice of today’s tour was back to the Bonneville Dam which we had earlier passed, traversing through the enormous locks. Built in the 1930s primarily for river navigation and electrical power generation, it is the largest water impoundment project of its time, and this tour was both extensive and tremendously interesting to me. We were permitted inside the giant chambers containing the power generators, original except for occasional upgrades and additions. On Thursday in Hood River after remaining at dock overnight, the highlight tour of the cruise was to the Multnomah Falls at 9:15 am. This is Oregon’s tallest and most picturesque waterfall, all 620 feet of it, via a 45-minute motor coach ride. Fed by rainwater and snowmelt, the Falls’ steady stream runs year-round. It is the second highest year-round waterfall in the United States. A short walk from our bus, beneath the highway and up a slight rise, we soon came in view of this magnificent scene. There are actually two separate falls, the taller one falling into a pond at the base of the high Benson Bridge across the canyon beneath which a second falls drops into a lower pond. It is a stunning sight to behold! Returning to the American’s Song by noontime, it was time for lunch. Then later in the afternoon at 4 pm was the final session of Ian’s lectures, this one about the return trip of Lewis & Clark from their two-year long trip of discovery from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean in 1805-6. The room was packed as usual for his last most interesting talk, finishing to a thunderous applause. Our riverboat departed Hood River, OR for The Dalles, OR, arriving there at 7:30 pm, remaining at dock overnight. The Dalles, OR - Friday, October 18th Again, I did NOT avail myself of the shuttles into town to the various museums but waited until after lunch at 2 pm for our tour to the Cascade Cliffs Winery, arriving there after a 30-minute motor coach ride. Being a relatively small family-owned winery, it is set in the stunningly beautiful and scenic Columbia River Gorge, surrounded by extensive vineyards. Upon arrival we were each given a fine monogrammed glass of white wine, “Symphony”, the glass for us to use for additional samples and to keep afterwards. Then family members proceeded to give a very thorough explanation of their winery, established in 2011, as well as offering more samples of the wines - mostly red. Also explained was the fact that they did NOT market widely, only selling their wines through a subscription method, although we were given the opportunity to purchase from them directly on this tour. I bought a bottle of the white wine “Symphony” at a discounted price of $24! NOT cheap! They also purchase grapes from neighboring vineyards. We were then given a tour of the processing area as well as the bottling area, all very impressive for such a small winery. Overall, a very interesting and enjoyable tour! Umatilla/Pendleton, OR & Richland, WA - Saturday, October 19th On Saturday morning we docked briefly in Umatilla to disembark those of us taking the all-day tour to Pendleton, OR. The American Song would then proceed on to Richland, Washington, where we would again rejoin the riverboat about 5 pm. After a 60-minute motor coach ride, we arrived in Pendleton accompanied by strong, cold winds and blustery rain. Our first stop was a tour of the Pendleton Underground, a below-the-ground transit through interconnected basements of downtown businesses, popular in the past as locations of speak-easies and other activities of questionable repute. A guided tour, it was quite interesting to see the various rooms and the many antiques housed therein, AND to be inside from the outdoor conditions. Once this tour was completed, we were directed to walk down the street for a couple of blocks to the Hamley Steakhouse for our included lunch. As most of the passengers had opted for this tour, requiring three buses, the large Steakhouse was completely filled. Lunch consisted of a salad followed by a huge, delicious pulled-pork sandwich, served with potato chips. For drinks, I ordered a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and then another, not realizing I would be charged. When a bill was presented and I reached into my empty pocket for my wallet - safely stowed in my room in the riverboat, I panicked! A nice lady at my table graciously loaned me $20 to pay my check! (I immediately repaid her on return to our riverboat!) We then loaded back on our three buses for our next stop, the Pendleton Woolen Mill. Being on Saturday, the Mill’s operations were closed, and our “tour” consisted of being ushered through their extensive showroom where highly over-priced merchandise was on sale. Even with the “discount” we were to receive, the prices were still outrageous! Also, on the majority of clothing I checked were labels “Made in China” or in Mexico, Salvador, ... I bought NOTHING! Evidently the Mill produces only the cloth and then sends it elsewhere to be fabricated. Then it was back on our nice warm bus for the trip to our last stop, the Tamastslikt Indian Visitor Center. Located out some distance from the town of Pendleton, on the top of a hill in a very impressive new structure, near a new Indian Casino, the “Wild Horse”, it was quite nice and informative about many of the local tribes with many exhibits and artifacts on display. All very well organized and presented. Our hour and a half drive back to Richland, WA, and the American Song seemed endless! But we finally arrived and then our driver, Dwayne, had to hunt for where the riverboat was docked because another riverboat was occupying our spot. By the way, my favorite bus driver was Dwayne who had followed our boat all along the Columbia, providing bus transfers as needed. He was EXCELLENT! Always giving interesting and information narration, he was always ready with a groaner of a joke. Several times his jokes brought down the entire bus load of us! Finally, our boat was located, and after quite a walk, we were back aboard, exhausted! Just in time for Happy Hour, of course! I slept well that night! Clarkston, WA - Sunday, October 20th On the last day of the cruise, our arrival at the dock in Clarkston, WA was at 11 am, just in time for the Hells Canyon Jetboat ride up the Snake River. Near Richland we had passed into the Snake River from the Columbia River, although I was not aware of just when we did. Across the Snake River from Clarkston, WA is the sister city of Lewiston, ID. CLARKston, LEWISton. Get it? Again, with almost everyone aboard choosing to take the jetboat, there were actually three jet boats required. I was able to be seated in the first one, next to my new friend Mary from Philadelphia. On many of our bus rides I had also shared a seat with her, also traveling alone. Another single lady I often shared seats with was Carolyn, from Ohio. There were two drivers, each taking turns at steering. They explained the propulsion system of the jetboats and were very good with their timely narration. Once past Lewiston, the Snake River became narrower and narrower, and more and more shallow with increasing turbulence and rapids. The hills alongside the River became steeper and steeper and it became clear why this Hells Canyon is renowned to be the deepest canyon in the United States, even deeper than Grand Canyon. At one point on the River we pulled up to the bank and docked, next to a “Ranch” where we all enjoyed a buffet lunch of roast pork, barbecue beans, potato salad, and rolls with drinks. It tasted wonderful! Then back on the River, now becoming a real boating experience. Finally, we reached a point where progress was becoming more and more of a challenge - at least for a jetboat full of tourists. So, we turned around and proceed DOWN the River, at first experiencing no less of the turbulence. It was one of the more exhilarating experiences I have ever had! Once in New Zealand I took one of their jetboat rides which was equally exciting. Returning to our riverboat at dock in Clarkston, it was just in time for Happy Hour - of course! Also just in time to get ready for our final dinner aboard, “Surf & Turf“ with delicious steak and lobster. A perfect end to a fabulous cruise! Then, the most unpleasant of any cruise - packing up to disembark. After dinner I got my carry-on size suitcase all packed up and placed in the hallway by 10 pm, and then tried to get some sleep before my early rise in the morning. Clarkston/Spokane, WA - Monday, October 21st Breakfast was served in the MDR starting at 5:30 am and I had packed up my Princess tote bag with my iPad, etc., so I was ready. My usual breakfast was a Western omelet, side of bacon, English muffin, with cranberry juice and coffee, of course. Returning to my room for the last time to retrieve my Princess bag, I realized that my passport had been packed in my luggage. Fortunately, I found my luggage still in the foyer and was able to open it and retrieve my passport! Just before 7 am we were instructed to disembark and claim our luggage ashore near the buses, and it was total confusion. With almost everyone aboard taking the ship’s shuttle to the Spokane Airport, the pile of luggage was substantial. Luckily, I found my one piece fairly quickly and was directed to the first (of three) buses where I indicated my airline as Alaska Airlines, got on board and took a second-row seat. Slowly other passengers successfully located their luggage and it was placed aboard the same bus they were to ride on to Spokane. Shortly, Carolyn came aboard, and I asked her to sit with me. So, our LONG ride of two and a half hours to Spokane Airport began! At first quite interesting, as we climbed up and up out of the Snake River Valley, once on top of the hills, the scenery became very boring with nothing but hill after hill of wheat fields - almost all the way to Spokane! Sleep came easily to me on several occasions and the time finally passed, and we were at the Spokane Airport. Fortunately, Alaska Airlines was our first stop, and I was the first off, saying my goodbyes to Carolyn. Unfortunately, my luggage - being the first on, was the last off! Since my flight was not until 1:40 pm and it was only about 9:30 am, I did have plenty of time! Quickly I passed through Security since I have TSA Check, and my self-printed baggage label put me through check-in also very quickly. I was soon at my departure gate. Spokane Airport has free internet and I spent my wait time on my iPad, checking email, updating the iOS on my iPad, and playing Solitaire. Soon it was time for my flight to depart. Although I had paid for Premium Economy Seat 7C, after families with small children had boarded along with others requiring extra time boarding, I immediately followed suit. After all, I AM 81! Comfortable in my seat, I awaited the rest of this full flight to Seattle to board, and then we were off for the less than an hour flight. Unfortunately, our arrival in Seattle was met with complications getting access to our gate, and what’s worse; our arrival gate was in the North Terminal, requiring their shuttle train to reach my C20 departure gate in Terminal C. I made it okay, but just barely! My flight on to Orange County was delayed about 10 minutes, which helped. Again, I was seated in 7C and, as luck would have it, the middle seat remained empty. My flight on to Orange County lasted only a couple of hours and our arrival, after two glasses of Chardonnay wine, was right on time with very little air turbulence. Overall, a very satisfactory flight. My luggage arrived right on schedule, and after a trip to the men’s room, I was out the door towards the SuperShuttle dispatcher. At first, he told me it would be awhile for a van to Corona del Mar, and I complained that this was the third time that I had arrived to the same story. Whatever, my van soon arrived, and I was off for home, arriving around 7:30 pm, tired but happy to be back home! Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We had never been to this area and this seemed like a great way to experience it...historically and culturally. This was our first cruise on American Cruise Lines. While the ship is not new, it was very clean and comfortable, and decently ... Read More
We had never been to this area and this seemed like a great way to experience it...historically and culturally. This was our first cruise on American Cruise Lines. While the ship is not new, it was very clean and comfortable, and decently decorated. Our stateroom was AAC on the third floor and it was as large as advertised as was the bathroom. The bedding was very nice and the king bed quite comfortable. The outside balcony would have been used more if the weather had been warmer. We sailed in early November and it was often quite cool and we had some rainy days. For us the trip was almost flawless and we had a wonderful time. Attire is casual but folks dressed neatly and tastefully. We were fortunate to find many congenial groups, couples, and singles to enjoy the cruise with. No young children or teenagers. The group ranged in ages 50 - 80's and was a fairly active group. The food was quite good. I am Vegan and the cruise chef was able to plan and prepare very good meals for me. My spouse enjoyed the regular cuisine. Although some crew members were quite new, the hotel (cruise) manager did a great job making sure all the parts worked really well together. She was very organized and the materials the company provides its passengers were very clear and complete. The itinery director was also organized, quite pleasant, and competent communicator. There was an onboard naturalist who gave several lectures and he was knowledgable and an entertaining presenter. The off ship excursions were enjoyable with several locals guiding us in their respective home towns. We did book another cruise while on this one as we so enjoyed it. No complaints. The crew and staff did a great job. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Had always dreamed of going to New Orleans and visiting the South. This cruise seemed to include most places we wanted to see and we were not disappointed. It exceeded our expectations with the ports of call and excursions. We ... Read More
Had always dreamed of going to New Orleans and visiting the South. This cruise seemed to include most places we wanted to see and we were not disappointed. It exceeded our expectations with the ports of call and excursions. We enjoyed the small ship feeling but our single staterooms were very roomy with all of the amenities needed. The food was superb, best seafood I have had in along time. Best crab cakes I've ever eaten. There were a lot of choices, even for the Vegans. The crew were so enthusiastic and did a great job of looking after us. The positive attitude of everyone was a breath of fresh air and they were very professional even though most of them were new to the cruise. Kudos to the Hotel Manager, Jason, who kept everything under control. We enjoyed the experience so much that have booked another cruise for 2020. We look forward to travelling with American Cruises again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We aren't interested in the large boats that travel to AND from Seattle to Alaska in 7 days. The Spirit took 14 days to go only one way. The trip was very relaxing with a good size cabin, bathroom, and balcony. We felt that the crew ... Read More
We aren't interested in the large boats that travel to AND from Seattle to Alaska in 7 days. The Spirit took 14 days to go only one way. The trip was very relaxing with a good size cabin, bathroom, and balcony. We felt that the crew was always available to grant any wish. The historian, Todd Weber, was informative and entertaining. The food was delicious and appealing to the eye...and if you weren't interested in the given choices, you could ask for whatever you wanted. We liked that our time was our own with limited activities on the ship. I say limited, but it seems like there was usually something going on. Great group areas to congregate indoors and out. You could be as active, or as inactive as you wanted in ports. Being a small ship, we got much closer to some of the scenery. We even anchored in Glacier Bay one night while a black bear looked for shellfish on the nearby beach. Cabins are serviced twice a day usually while we were dining. An elevator made the whole ship accessible to everyone. Fellow travelers tended to be over 50 and well traveled. These two week cruises are not inexpensive but I can't imagine paying less for a trip on a mega size boat. My only recommendations to American Cruise Line would be changing to a more modern/neutral look in carpets and couches. (A minor thing.) also have WIFI that works all the time. (also not a big deal.) Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
My wife chose this as our first cruise. I follow the History of the American West and my interest was peaked. God made all the reservations and everything as this was her first vacation planning adventure. We came to relax and let ... Read More
My wife chose this as our first cruise. I follow the History of the American West and my interest was peaked. God made all the reservations and everything as this was her first vacation planning adventure. We came to relax and let Miss America solve World Peace and World Hunger as she was more qualified than us. Very good trip with open seating for all meals. You were NOT assigned a table. In addition ship had 193 people on it and it was just fun to enjoy the scenery, the lock system and trips to Mt St Helena and the Gorge Museum in which the curator did a fantastic job, but no one went to see it. The towns we stopped at were small and some did not even have a Wal Mart. So evidently it was not an official city in the USA without a Walmart. We shop at COSTCO. The historian who gave various talks with slides on the Lewis & Clark Expedition did it with a little humor and it was not a dry college lecture. Had a 1 on 1 with him as the fur trappers were the precursors to the the settlement of the American West even though they were not mention in the L&C Diaries. Had a poor PR Dept If you want to see the West and just relax this is a trip for you.. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Our original booking on the French American boat was cancelled at last minute and we were able to switch to this boat. I think we were lucky as once we were with the American Cruise Company everything was handled very well and efficiently ... Read More
Our original booking on the French American boat was cancelled at last minute and we were able to switch to this boat. I think we were lucky as once we were with the American Cruise Company everything was handled very well and efficiently and the cruise was delightful. The cabin was great and the ports and shore excursions were interesting. The ship was very well maintained, the staff was outstanding, and the ports of call were interesting. Learned lots about the pre and Civil War and found it all very informative. Would have liked a little more time in some of the ports to explore on our own. Loved having warm cookies every day at 10:00 AM and it was fun to have popcorn, ice cream sundaes, and floats at the evening entertainment. All is all this was a good small ship cruise experience and I definitely would sail with them again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
I selected ACL's cruise down the Snake and Columbia Rivers for several reasons: I'm interested in the Lewis and Clark expedition, I wanted to see the landscape of the Inland Northwest, and my earlier cruise with ACL (the Lower ... Read More
I selected ACL's cruise down the Snake and Columbia Rivers for several reasons: I'm interested in the Lewis and Clark expedition, I wanted to see the landscape of the Inland Northwest, and my earlier cruise with ACL (the Lower Mississippi) was such a treat that I wanted to travel with the company again. The Snake/Columbia River trip was one of the best I'd ever taken, and I have been traveling extensively for 52 years. My booking was handled politely and expeditiously by Sean at the ACL office, and I received all necessary papers and notices on time and in order before my departure. The itinerary, from Lewiston, ID, to Astoria, OR, was first rate. The excursions were diverse and fascinating, with excellent guides-- there was something for everyone. When we were under way, the staff always devised something fun to do, like sailing kites off the deck. Though the cabins on the paddlewheeler Queen of the West are somewhat smaller than on the Queen of the Mississippi, my room was perfectly acceptable --clean and comfortable. The company has, incidentally, just launched a new ship built to their specifications, so they are always upgrading. The service is excellent. You can tell immediately that the staff are very well trained: these young people are friendly, polite, and capable. In addition, the lecturers were outstanding. Because of my interest in history, I asked a lot of questions-- and got the answers. Above all, the cruise director was very responsive to our needs-- she even made special arrangements for me to fit in an extra excursion in Astoria. I especially enjoyed the afternoon happy hour, with included drinks, wine, and an extensive selection of hors d'oeuvres. It was a great chance to meet with the other passengers and compare notes. The ship is small, about 100 passengers, so you have an opportunity to meet like-minded, friendly people from all over the country. The food is excellent. I am a vegetarian, and the chef had no problem accommodating my needs. I have already signed up for my third ACL cruise, and I plan to take many more. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
That was my FIRST cruise with American Cruise Lines. Loved every minute of it, to the extent that I have become a "regular" cruiser with them. As a matter of fact, I will repeat this cruise this September, and that will be my ... Read More
That was my FIRST cruise with American Cruise Lines. Loved every minute of it, to the extent that I have become a "regular" cruiser with them. As a matter of fact, I will repeat this cruise this September, and that will be my TENTH one. Need I say more. The crews have all been excellent, courteous, true professionals. And the people you meet ........ that to me is the best experience. Small ship cruising is the BEST!!!!!! Ships have all been wonderful, and I have had no complaints about any of the cabins I have stayed in. And the food has always been plenty, and EXCELLENT in every respect. The Puget Sound area is truly a sight to behold, interesting excursions, like whale watching trips, and visits to quaint towns. Some of the onboard activities are fun, be it kite flying of the top deck, or having a hot chocolate party there. All my trips have been wonderful!! High recommended cruise line!!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
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