8 Charleston River Cruise Reviews

This was my first experience with American Cruise Lines. All aspects of the cruise was FUN! More training needed of the young service personnel for their sake. All personnel was courteous. Tours were interesting, food was top quality, ... Read More
This was my first experience with American Cruise Lines. All aspects of the cruise was FUN! More training needed of the young service personnel for their sake. All personnel was courteous. Tours were interesting, food was top quality, kept up to date on a daily basis for tours, activities on and off the boat. Looking forward to another trip. Best part, you get to travel, see sights' meet new acquaintances without having to pack & unpack each day. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This shockingly poor experience on American Cruiselines really should be told to warn future travelers just how bad a simple cruise can be. The first obvious situation we encountered was the totally untrained staff which included a brand ... Read More
This shockingly poor experience on American Cruiselines really should be told to warn future travelers just how bad a simple cruise can be. The first obvious situation we encountered was the totally untrained staff which included a brand new cruise director (who was snippy, sarcastic and unresponsive to our simplest request to provide us with an extra chair) and servers who were fresh out of school. They were quite pleasant but didn't know much about serving. What they Did know about was that they weren't getting their tips. We paid our bill an added a large amount on our credit card for staff tips and are Very Upset that this money is not being passed on to these needy people, several of whom are leaving their jobs. The chef was an abomination. Two portions of soup taught us that we couldn't possibly order that item again as it was filled with corn starch so thick that one had to work at stirring the contents and,worse yet, the salt content was so enormous in that and the rest of the food, that I came home up 6 pounds with swollen ankles. In 2 days it had all come off but it was very uncomfortable. (Eating salads does Not put on weight.) Another kitchen problem was that they kept running out of food. The waiters told us that management had hired this chef to use up everything in the kitchen and Not buy any more food as the ship was headed for dry dock. Toward the end of the week, the portions were miniscule. Interestingly, this company charges fares comparable to the luxury cruise lines but provides mediocre vessels with minimal service. No phones in the rooms, no notepaper or pen, and cheap furniture. On the only other cruise we sailed with them in the Owner's Suite, we were treated to little pastries every night; on this cruise, they brought some strawberries on only 2 nights. The entertainment was pretty poor. Only one performer out of several was a professional. One night they substituted entertainment with Bingo of all things! The brochure said we were traveling from Charleston to Jacksonville, Fla. However, when we arrived in Charleston, there was No city tour. We sailed out of there immediately. We finished the tour without ever reaching Jacksonville, debarking from an island instead. We had to pay a significant per person fee for transferring to Jacksonville without ever seeing that city either. I call this deceptive advertising. Comparing it with our other cruise with them again, we began in Seattle and were, of course, treated to a city tour before sailing. We are left with the feeling that the company cut corners in every way possible and that, based on what we paid, this was a huge ripoff! In addition, it was so unpleasant in so many ways. Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
First, we were told when we booked that the average age is 65. The actual average age is 80-82+. On board the cruise director told us she couldn't understand why we were told that? She said the cruise we were on is actually a bit ... Read More
First, we were told when we booked that the average age is 65. The actual average age is 80-82+. On board the cruise director told us she couldn't understand why we were told that? She said the cruise we were on is actually a bit younger than normal. So, then we see all the wheel chairs, walkers, canes, scooters sitting outside the dining room at our first meal, then we knew we made a bad decision. The ship is 4 years old, but on the inside it looked straight out of the '70s. The decor was unappealing. Much of the upholstered furniture was torn or soiled, probably from the wheel chairs, etc. This cruise costs $10,000 per couple which is absolutely outrageous for what it was. The food was mostly averge and sub par. In 7 days, we had two decent meals. All they do over and over is try and get you to book the next trip, and get some discount. They charge for all the land tours. We didn't do any, as we figured out how to do things on our own. We ate on land as much as possible to avoid the mediocre food. We felt like we had moved into an average assisted living home for the week, and it was way too long. Had we not spent that much money, we would have gotten off the boat after the first day. Again, for what you get, it's outrageously expensive!! They use young, completely inexperienced staff that complained to us about how management was not honest with them and were forced to sign contracts for 12 weeks. They make $30 per day, and clean the toilets when they are done in the kitchen. This is slave labor. Awful!!!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
The interior of the Independence, which was put into service in 2010, looks like the 60s. I assume the interior was designed to look like Americana, but it just looks tired with soiled and worn upholstery, and tacky carpets and ... Read More
The interior of the Independence, which was put into service in 2010, looks like the 60s. I assume the interior was designed to look like Americana, but it just looks tired with soiled and worn upholstery, and tacky carpets and furnishings. Some meals were better than others (and a few were downright inedible), but for the most part the food was tasty and nicely presented. Service was somewhat inconsistent; the cruise line hires young and inexperienced people who, apparently, are given a crash course in how to deal with the passengers and are expected to serve meals and clean cabins; they complained about being overworked and underpaid and many expressed resentment with management. Cabins are clean, spacious, and comfortable with plenty of drawer and closet space, and the daily service was pretty good. The cost of the 7-day cruise is way overpriced compared to similar cruises on other and nicer cruise lines. It appears that American Cruise Lines caters to seniors; the average age of passengers was 75, most were not active, and many were infirm or disabled. It's admirable that American Cruise Lines provides cruises for the elderly and infirm who may be unable to take other kinds of trips, but that should have been made clear to us before we booked and it was not. The dining room has tables for 6 or 8 and only one table for 4; the hotel manager and cruise director were most accommodating and arranged private dinners and private tours for four of us traveling together because they understood that we did not want to sit at tables for 8 or participate in the group shore excursions for 30 to 40. The "fitness area" on the upper deck is a joke, with just 3 pieces of equipment that didn't work properly and several free weights that were rusty. For exercise, we walked 30 to 50 laps around the upper deck but then heard others complain about the "noisy" footsteps! Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
First off let me say that I really like this cruise line. So much so, that we are taking them in Alaska this summer. The crew was very friendly and helpful. The food service and staff were excellent. The other passengers were quite ... Read More
First off let me say that I really like this cruise line. So much so, that we are taking them in Alaska this summer. The crew was very friendly and helpful. The food service and staff were excellent. The other passengers were quite friendly and engaging. The entertainment, with one glaring exception was very good. The lectures and information about our ports was exceptional and the shore excursions were very good. The cocktail hour every afternoon is a great way to mix and mingle and get to know the other passengers. If you are on this Cruise Critic site to help in the selection of your next cruise, let me give you some idea of what to expect and not to expect from American Cruise Lines…. - If you want a cruise with 4000 of your best friends, assigned dinner tables and times, food from a cement mixer, half hour waits to get on or off the ship, an iPhone App to save you from getting lost on the ship, a $500 bar bill for a seven day cruise, being nickel and dimed to death for everything other than your room and meals, American Cruise Lines is not for you. - If you want to cruise in the lap of luxury with a spacious suite cabin, a mini bar and fridge in your cabin, 24 hour coffee bar with a barista, a fancy bar and lounge with a uniformed bartender, over priced and spotty wifi, over priced and poorly presented shore excursions, and young adults frolicking in the surf, then American may not be for you either. - What you do get on ACL is a compact, efficient ship with great food and a very helpful and friendly crew. We cruised from Charleston to Jackson on a New Years holiday and thoroughly enjoyed it. We have cruised Royal Caribbean, Avalon, Seabourn, and a small motor sailer in Greece. AMC is one of our favorites. We have already booked another cruise with American. - Since this is supposed to be a critique, let me address a few things to the ACL home office that might improve the overall ACL experience. Never use the band we had on New Years Eve and New Years again. They were so bad that there were requests to have them put off the ship on Sapelo Island. Get new uniforms for the hotel staff. Whatever that is they are wearing in no way reflects their high level of professionalism. Get “plug-in” clocks for the night stands. The battery operated LCD clocks are hard to see in the daytime and impossible at night. Get bigger TV in the staterooms. Considering the average age of your guests, I am not sure anyone could see those 15” mini screens. Get better coffee in the lounge. I heard several passengers say they were going to Starbucks when they got off the ship. - I never expected ACL to be Seabourn, but for heavens sake, fire your interior designer. OMG! Valences over the windows! With the exception of the dining room, the rest of the furniture, especially in the lounge looks like an assisted living center. Your passengers might not be spry but your decor should be a little more spry and up to date.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
We very much enjoyed the cruise, although it was VERY cold! We were disappointed not to have a pre boarding morning tour of Charleston. We loved Beaufort, Savannah, Sapelo Island, Jekyll Island, St. Simons Island and Amelia Island and ... Read More
We very much enjoyed the cruise, although it was VERY cold! We were disappointed not to have a pre boarding morning tour of Charleston. We loved Beaufort, Savannah, Sapelo Island, Jekyll Island, St. Simons Island and Amelia Island and general cruise through the low lands. We especially liked our big rooms on the first floor in the 100's(same floor as the dining room). They are bigger because there is no balcony which takes away from the square footage of the room as well as the light! It was also nice to have an elevator, as I have had three knee operations(no replacement) and I don't need to do stairs any more than I have to. I was disappointed that the staff did NOT observe the dietary restriction that I had specifically written down on your space for "dietary needs" Every morning, they give you a menu to choose from, write it down and I always noted "low sodium". No one ever sought me out to find me with the low sodium meals. We just recently returned from a cruise of the Black Sea and the very first thing they did after the emergency drill, was to ask those with dietary requirements, to come to the lounge to meet with the chef to discuss my needs. Every meal a designated waiter brought me what I had requested for BOTH lunch and dinner! On the cruise we took with you, I finally had to go out to the kitchen, find the chef, and demand that SOMEONE pay attention, not just to me, but to others who also complained. One other suggestion: the entertainment was a little thin. One of them should clearly be dropped. It's been so long that I can't remember exactly who. Otherwise, it was very enjoyable and the staff was excellent. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Last week my wife and I took our first cruise in the United States. It was aboard the Independence, one of the ships of American Cruise Line. It was a great experience, and we hope to sail on the same ship again next year. We did a lot of ... Read More
Last week my wife and I took our first cruise in the United States. It was aboard the Independence, one of the ships of American Cruise Line. It was a great experience, and we hope to sail on the same ship again next year. We did a lot of research before the cruise, reading reviews, searching the website and speaking with the cruise lines' sales people. In all of my queries one thing which I had not truly discovered before boarding, but which was thrilled by was that when they say AMERICAN Cruise Lines, they mean it. The ships are built in the USA (on the Atlantic coast I think), and everyone working on the boat is english speaking. It was wonderful being able to have cordial chats with the employees. The ships just feel American: simple, solid, comfortable and roomy. Our room had everything we wanted and had a king size bed. On other riverboats we have been on, the kings size beds arent really king beds, but this one was. The room also had comfortable reading chairs and a balcony which we didnt use much on account of it being rather cold. The Intra Coastal Waterway was a unique experience. The cruise sailed out of Charleston,a dn we got the a day early to do some sight seeing. We explored Middleton Plantation, a sprawling mansion that offers two views of the early days in the South - one from the view of the wealthy planter and one from the viewpoint of a slave. It appropriately deals with this blemish on American history and is worth visiting. During the cruise we stopped in Hilton Head, which was enjoyable. Wisely the cruise line only spends a few hours there, as the whole town can be seen in a few minutes - while you are there be sure to go up in the lighthouse. Savannah was our favorite. We did the trolley tour organized by the line and enjoyed it very much. Our favorite part was all of the park squares. We will be back with AMERICAN Cruise Line - they have a brand new ship on the MS River and we want to see the American heartland. We are going to go form St. Louis to Memphis. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
Since we intentionally choose small we were not looking for Casinos or extravaganzas. We got a cruise that can be compared to cruising on a friends yacht with about 90 of her dear friends. The ship was spotless. The cleaning never ... Read More
Since we intentionally choose small we were not looking for Casinos or extravaganzas. We got a cruise that can be compared to cruising on a friends yacht with about 90 of her dear friends. The ship was spotless. The cleaning never stopped. Our room was quite comfortable. The king size bed was more comfortable than our bed at home (hate to say it) and the sheets were sooo soft. Nice closet and spacious bath for a boat. Room was also spotless and was kept that way despite us. Liz the activities manager is the most cheerful, helpful individual I have ever met. She is a treasure of the seas. I don't think she sleeps. She is always looking for ways to make the Cruise more enjoyable. Sapelo Island and the Shrimp boat were my two favorites although all were fun. Sandy our historian was the best and most fun. She could double for entertainment. She prepared us as best she could. She made the excursions and stops more enjoyable by sharing the stories and culture. More than that she also was always there to help or explain. Gerardo is a Peach of a restaurant manager. He did does everything he can to provide beverages around the clock, treats around the clock, cookie parties, cocktail parties. The Chef offered good selections of local food. The salads were special no two looked or tasted the same. The food was beautifully plated and we found the selections offered a good variety of food that should satisfy anyone. Wine selections were also surprisingly good. Staff did their best to make us happy. Enjoyed the new napkin fold each night. The evening entertainment was a welcome surprise. We enjoyed each night and in particular our favorite was Christopher Paul. We did not expect any entertainment as the boat was small and we were in port each night. The Captain met and greeted but best of all he gave a great ride. We enjoyed our trip to the bridge. Dock guy John was also helpful in making sure we didn't hit our heads and got all the help we needed. If I missed anyone I am sorry because it took all of you to make our first cruise so good that we will go on another. It will be another on this cruise line. Had a wonderful Thanksgiving/ Read Less
Sail Date November 2012

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