The Positives: The food was good with complimentary happy hour and wine & beer with meals. All meals are served with tables of 8 , open seating with no buffet. We enjoyed the companionship of the mostly over 70 years crowd who are ... Read More
The Positives: The food was good with complimentary happy hour and wine & beer with meals. All meals are served with tables of 8 , open seating with no buffet. We enjoyed the companionship of the mostly over 70 years crowd who are seasoned travelers. The young staff wait tables all 3 meals and clean the rooms and are temporary for 3 months at time and are enthusiastic but overworked.
Amy Traxler our naturalist was outstanding and was always willing to help and answer questions. At the end of the cruise the last night Amy presented a power point slide show of photos with music that she created for us. Something, that I would expect of the ACL Cruise Directors on ship to do every cruise.
Our Captain, Capt Hexlrod ?? was personable and mingled with the passengers and on the last day in Seattle even helped load supplies. We were very impressed with the Captain and the crew who always helped passengers on and off the ship. We did like the free WiFi. The Hotel Manager , Chelsea was always willing to answer questions and would help the servers in the dining room. Amy the housekeeping manager always seemed to be helping somewhere.
Several of the passengers had cruised before with ACL and are very committed to small ship cruising in the USA. I wonder if Viking comes in as I hear rumor will in 2017 if ACL will lose business from those of us who would like a more upscale cabin and less non-refundable administrative fees of $250/person and cheaper trip insurance. I would guess that many of the people that chose ACL will leave and go to Viking.
The scenery is beautiful!!
The negatives: The overworked staff and managers who seem to work non-stop day and evening. This made many of us feel uncomfortable to see them working so hard and not getting to rest.
ACL's accommodations are pricey starting at $3985 for a basic cabin on the 1st floor which can have an obstructed view depending on the pier. This is for 7 night cruise or over $8,000 for 2 people, plus air fare etc.. A tiny balcony that can barely accommodate 2 chairs is almost $1,000 per person more to go to the 2nd level. The 1st level has considerable engine noise and vibration. Compare this with our 10 day Alaska Cruise, 2017 round trip from San Francisco in a mini-Suite on Princess for $6400 for both us for a longer cruise & includes insurance
There is a $250.00 /person administrative fee to cancel which is buried in fine print. This is regardless of how far out the trip is cancelled unlike the big ship lines like Princess. The ACL insurance runs about $900 which I found high and bought from Travel Guard for about $600 for the week. On Princess for a 10 day cruise the insurance is $395 VS $900 for ACL. Tipping is requested at $125/person which seems beyond the $11 per day /person that we pay on Princess. $88 for a week on Princess VS $125 for ACL.
There is no phone or call button in the cabin which is a serious safety deficit, especially for a ship with seniors . There is no announcement or clear directions on how to call for help and the expectation would be find the numbers for the hotel manager or cruise director on the ship to shore guide and call by cell phone. a number of the passengers mentioned this as a worrisome issue.
There doesn't seem to be any security system ( cameras) on board and there is no tracking of passengers going on or off ship in ports or screening of lugguge. A crew member stands by the gang plank to monitor passengers and help but there is no electronic badge system or sign out process. The keys to our cabins were metal like our house keys not the electronic ones which can also monitor when a passenger or staff person enters and leaves the cabin.
This is a low tech operation that doesn't seem to use tools like computer tablets to track excursions etc. Our bill was a narrow strip of paper with a box for each excursion to be checked with a total at the end and the tipping had to be added by hand. This was the 1st time that I have ever cruised with out an itemized computer print out of the bill . We had to check out the last day by using our credit card , check or cash unlike like other cruise companies which have it on file to expedite the check out process.
Port Excursions are usually a town tour or some type of bus ride to view the sights or a museum with the exception of the jet boat in Anacortes and Whale watching in Friday Harbor. The Victoria excursion which we didn't take but got lots of feedback on from other disappointed passengers was a let town only 2 hours in Butchart Gardens and 45 mins in Victoria before returning via Ferry to Port Angeles. We wished for some more creative excursions and did get bored and restless as there is a lot of time spent in ports. There was only 3 pieces of work out equipment and no pool or hot tub on board.
The cabin is bare bones with blond future which could use updating. Again no call button or phone . I missed a mini-fridge and fresh ice water being maintained.
While this is advertised as cruising, most of the time is spent in ports even over nighting in ports.
Entertainment: Mixed bag that was geared to the more Senior crowd but seemed to be enjoyed.
We had one grand child on board about 11 years with her grandmother. She was smart and had picked this trip. We were all amazed how well she interacted with us and definitely held her own in dinner conversations.
Meals as I mentioned is a sit down at a table of 8 and there is no horizon court for a quick meal which I missed. There is an early bird continental breakfast in the lounge starting at 6:30 am with rolls, coffee, Juice etc.
Will we return to ACL maybe in a few years to take the Hudson River Cruise in a hopefully updated ship with more reasonable insurance and administrative fees. With ACL rolling out a new ship a year and not updating Spirit or its computer technology , I wonder how long this expansion can be maintained? I don't want ACL to suffer the same fate as Cruise West the small ship company that went bankrupt. Read Less