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American Serenade Review

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Editor Rating
4.5
Very Good
Overall
Aaron Saunders
Senior Editor, News and Features

Launched in 2023, American Serenade is the sixth member of American Cruise Lines' fleet of modern riverboats. Eschewing the Mark Twain-era paddlewheeler look sported by so many U.S. river cruise lines (including ACL), American Serenade is sleek and spacious, channeling a European-style river cruise ambiance and bringing it to the waterways of America.

To that end, passengers will find cabins that all feature full private balconies and plenty of living space, with passenger corridors anchored by a four-story atrium topped by a skylight that lets in plenty of natural light. ACL has also started partnering with Miami-based Studio DADO on its interior design, and the results can be easily seen aboard American Serenade, which sports high-end furniture and fixtures along with soft lighting and elegant décor touches throughout that add a sense of style and personality to American Serenade that was missing from the line's more classic river vessels.

The ship's secret weapon -- also found aboard sister-ships American Harmony, American Jazz, Victoria Sophia, and American Symphony -- is a hydraulic bow that opens to reveal a retractable steel gangway. This allows passengers to disembark the vessel with ease in ports without traditional docking facilities.

In a nod to American Cruise Lines' passenger base, which does skew older, the ship also carries its own onboard golf cart that can ferry passengers between the ship and the motorcoaches in the event of steep inclines between landing sites and roadways.

American Serenade offers a river cruise experience that is quietly charming, thanks to the abundance of open deck space onboard and unexpected touches, like two main lounges, two onboard dining venues (a main restaurant and a casual café offering up breakfast sandwiches and burgers, among others); an unexpectedly large fitness center; and several cozy mini-lounges tucked away behind the ship's two elevators that traverse from Deck 1 to Deck 4, but which do not reach the uppermost Sun Deck.

The ship runs smoothly, with very little vibration unless maneuvering into a lock or alongside in port. In most cases, the ship is so quiet you won't even know it's moving. Soundproofing is also excellent, cancelling out the rolling thunder from a vicious storm one evening as we departed Savannah, TN.

American Cruise Lines builds its ships entirely within the United States at its own shipyard (Chesapeake Shipbuilding), and American Serenade is crewed with entirely American crewmembers, some of whom hail from the big-ship cruising world.

American Serenade Itineraries Sail the Tennessee, Ohio, Cumberland and Mississippi Rivers

American Serenade primarily sails American Cruise Lines' upper and lower Mississippi itineraries, along with its newest itinerary, "Tennessee Rivers", that traverses the Cumberland, Ohio and Tennessee rivers from Nashville to Chattanooga or reverse.

It is perfectly designed for these waterways, in particular the Tennessee River, thanks to its hydraulic bow that lifts up to reveal a retractable bow ramp. This allows the ship to tie up and put passengers ashore in ports without traditional docking facilities -- which is nearly every port of call on American Cruise Line's "Tennessee Rivers" voyage.

Ports on both itineraries range from big-name cities like Nashville and New Orleans to smaller towns like Paducah, Kentucky and Florence, Alabama that may be noteworthy in their own right, or be located within relative proximity to another major site of interest.

Itineraries aboard American Serenade typically include a complimentary pre-cruise hotel stay in the port of embarkation.

American Serenade Deck Plans Offer Plenty of Space to Spread Out

American Serenade's deck plans are structured around an abundance of space to kick back and relax and watch the rivers go by.

Most passengers will gravitate to the forward-facing River Lounge on Deck 3 forward. Functioning as the ship's main social space, the River Lounge plays host to informative and engaging lectures; fun diversions like Name that Tune; and evening Cocktail Hours that take place before dinner each night. Post-dinner, the lounge offers vocal entertainment by onboard or local performers -- our voyage included a fantastic tribute to Patsy Cline and even a full-blown Elvis impersonator who embarked in Paducah, Kentucky.

But for those looking for a bit more serenity, the Sky Lounge on Deck 4 aft is a quiet bar and lounge concept adorned with a large skylight that bathes the room in sunlight at all hours of the day. The Sky Lounge is situated next to the adjacent aft deck terrace, and offers easy access to the spacious Sun Deck on Deck 5.

In addition, American Serenade offers a series of small, quiet lounges tucked around on the aft side of the elevator banks on the port side of the ship. Located on Decks 2, 3, and 4, these lounges (named Lyric Lounge, The Study and High Note Lounge) are great places to escape with a book, or perhaps play a game of chess or utilize one of the lounge's included boardgames.

American Serenade has two small Fitness Centers located on Deck 2 aft that seemed lonely and neglected on our voyage, though passengers did make use of the Jogging Track on Deck 4. There is no spa onboard, and American Serenade does not have either pools nor hot tubs -- so leave the bathing suit at home.

For those who like to be in the heart of the action, forward-facing observation decks are located on Deck 2 (the Bow Terrace) and on Deck 3 in front of the River Lounge. Passengers can also admire the ship's wake from a series of open decks all the way aft on Decks 2, 3 and 4.

Pros

Huge cabins, excellent enrichment and excursion activities.

Cons

Service levels are uneven.

Bottom Line

A comfortable, modern river cruise experience through the heartland of America.

Inclusions

Included with your cruise fare:

  • · All onboard beverages, alcoholic and non-alcoholic

  • All meals

  • All gratuities

  • Pre-cruise hotel stay

  • All onboard lectures and entertainment

  • Most shore excursions

Not included with your cruise fare:

  • · Premium shore excursions

  • Gratuities for local guides and coach drivers

Fellow Passengers

Who Is On Board American Serenade?

Passengers aboard American Serenade tend to be predominantly 70+ and exclusively American. The line's itineraries appeal to Americans who want to see more of their own country with ease, and thus, appeal to folks with mobility issues who may not be able to travel in comfort any other way. The ship has two elevators that traverse all decks but the uppermost Sun Deck, and one wheelchair-accessible motorcoach is available to passengers who require it for shore excursions.

Passengers tend to be well travelled within their own country and have led interesting and successful careers. American Serenade does not offer scheduled LGBTQ+ meetups and has a fairly homogenous passenger base.

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American Serenade Cruiser Reviews

A delightful time in the Southern USA

Enjoyable dining (and on American Serenade had additional choice of a "fast food" cafe). 5. Good entertainment consistently. 6, Good options for touring on land.Read More
Sooners fan

10+ Cruises

Age 70s

Wonderful!

The food is really good. ( We always gain a few pounds on each cruise) The Serenade is a beautiful ship. Love the outdoor space for relaxation.Read More
Oceansmymotion

10+ Cruises

Age 70s

First American (USA) River Cruise almost right with room to improve

We booked a full year in advance and got our choice of dates/cabin category on the brand new (2 months old) American Serenade.Read More
Water babies

10+ Cruises

Age 60s

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