We chose American Cruise Lines for the second time to continue to see America from our great rivers. This lower Mississippi River cruise had outstanding entertainment and lectures on board. We looked forward each night after dinner to ... Read More
We chose American Cruise Lines for the second time to continue to see America from our great rivers. This lower Mississippi River cruise had outstanding entertainment and lectures on board. We looked forward each night after dinner to being entertained by some very talented people. Each port visited was a mini history lesson on that part of the river and the people who founded it. The dining was first class with the many food choices enhancing our experience by representing the area of the country we were touring, starting with a pre board dinner at Antoine's in New Orleans. The entire crew made it possible for even those with limitations to enjoy shore tours.They were extremely helpful not to mention cheerful, at all times. A most pleasant week. The best part was visiting with others who had come from all over this amazing nation. That was almost a tour within a tour. Read Less
We took this cruise in order to get away from the histle and bustle of the real world. Everthing was very enjoyable. We even discovered that Rachel the port lecturer will be on the New England Islands cruise we are taking this coming ... Read More
We took this cruise in order to get away from the histle and bustle of the real world. Everthing was very enjoyable. We even discovered that Rachel the port lecturer will be on the New England Islands cruise we are taking this coming summer.
The food and dining woom service was outstanding. One thing we enjoyed was that there is one dining room so everybody dines at the same time. There is no assigned seating so one gets to meed a variety of people.
The ship was kept in an immaculate condition. The crew was constantly cleaning, polishing, etc. to keep the ship in immaculate condtion.
People have commented that the price of the cruise aooears to be high but we have found that the old saying "you get what you pay for" is certainly true in this case. Great food, complimentary soda, beer and wine all day, open bar cockatil party every afternoon before dinner with hors d'ouvres -- what more could one ask for!! Read Less
This is an unfavorable review of our recent cruise on the Mississippi River. I decided to write it when I received a letter from the president of the company, Mr. Charles A. Robertson, "acknowledging" my comments with a ... Read More
This is an unfavorable review of our recent cruise on the Mississippi River. I decided to write it when I received a letter from the president of the company, Mr. Charles A. Robertson, "acknowledging" my comments with a "form" letter which stated he was so "pleased to hear how much I enjoyed my cruise aboard the America and especially enjoyed reading my comments...."
I did NOT enjoy my cruise with American Cruise Lines, Inc. ship "America". The rooms are sparsely furnished with cheap furniture; the food was unremarkable; the entertainment (with the exception of the Victory Belles) was mediocre, at best. I expected much more for the price of this cruise.
Let’s talk about the food. As mentioned, it was unremarkable except to say some of it was not edible, i.e. the “crab bread pudding” was so dry they actually removed it from the menu on subsequent nights. The selections were minimal and not appealing to a discriminating palate. The portions were very small and no seconds or additions were offered. On one occasion, I asked for a substitution and was denied! Denied!
Let’s talk about the entertainment. The duo who performed some nights is a sweet couple and they do have some talent, but this was not the caliber of entertainment I expected for the price of this cruise! We didn’t even stay for most of the entertainment because it was so sub-standard for cruising. As stated above, the Victory Belles were outstanding!
I have decided to copy this letter to Trip Advisor and Expedia. Not because I want to hurt their company, but because the President failed to acknowledge my actual comments in his January 24 letter. If I were not already booked on their Pacific Northwest trip, I would not be traveling with their company again, but, trust me, it will be the last time I cruise with American Cruise Lines, Inc. I do not recommend this company to my FB friends and family. Read Less
This was our first trip aboard ACL and the small ship experience was totally perfect for us. Staff were friendly and helpful. Loved the food by Chef Jose - tried almost all the seafood they had to offer each meal. Happy hour in the ... Read More
This was our first trip aboard ACL and the small ship experience was totally perfect for us. Staff were friendly and helpful. Loved the food by Chef Jose - tried almost all the seafood they had to offer each meal. Happy hour in the lounge included drinks and appetizers. Sometimes those appetizers were enough to be a dinner by themselves!
Being from the west coast the history of each port was fascinating to both of us. We had never heard of "tabby" as a building material nor the "Gullah" community in the low country. Our docent on that trip was extremely knowledgeable about the history/people/culture of the Southeast.
The rear cabins can get a little noisy when sailing / docking since they're over the props/engine & thrusters. Otherwise we loved the room and balcony.
Be aware the Jacksonville dock isn't available currently, we had to disembark in Fernandina, Fla and bus ride to the airport / hotels after that. Read Less
This was our first trip with American Cruise Line and we were very pleased. The cabin was larger than on any but the luxury lines. The food choices were limited but the quality was excellent - cocktail hour drinks and appetizers are a ... Read More
This was our first trip with American Cruise Line and we were very pleased. The cabin was larger than on any but the luxury lines. The food choices were limited but the quality was excellent - cocktail hour drinks and appetizers are a very nice touch as were the ice cream sundaes during evening entertainment.
The staff was very attentive and cordial.
We picked this trip along coastal South Carolina, Georgia and Florida to see the small towns and barrier islands. November was a good time to go - no crowds. The weather was cool with one day with light.
The shore excursions were limited due the nature of the area and small towns, but were well planned and interesting. The shrimp boat excursion was a highlight.
Local musicians provided good entertainment, unfortunately few guests attended which reflected the age of the passengers this time of year (almost all retired). Read Less
We booked our 4th trip with ACL on their newest ship with high expectations which certainly were not met. The itinerary we were originally given was changed several times including by phone the afternoon before sailing. Perhaps that ... Read More
We booked our 4th trip with ACL on their newest ship with high expectations which certainly were not met. The itinerary we were originally given was changed several times including by phone the afternoon before sailing. Perhaps that should have indicated potential problems. Although we were supposed to sail on inland waterways, we found out when we embarked that we would have to go out to sea sometimes because of problems on the previous voyage, problems that were not adequately explained in several different versions. We did find out that many people, including crew, were seasick on that voyage and people did get seasick on our trip as well. Because of high winds somewhere in the area, we were stuck in Brunswick, Georgia for 3 nights--we couldn't continue on inland water and the ocean was too rough for the ship. Unfortunately, the staff on the Constellation included several new and inexperienced members and also several changes in staff were made during our 10 days. Perhaps this was why they were unable to adequately adapt to and cope with the changing conditions. On a previous trip with ACL, itinerary changes were made because of river conditions, but that staff made lemonade out of lemons and we were pleased with the trip in spite of not going where originally planned. Has ACL expanded too rapidly? In addition to an overextended staff, other aspects of the trip were not up to the standards we previously experienced. During the cocktail hour the hors dourvres were significantly less plentiful than on previous trips, there was only 1 lecturer (a nice man, but not up to par) whereas other trips had more, second rate entertainment in the evening. Read Less
This is a nice new ship. Cabin and bathroom are large. The service is excellent. The food is basic American, good but fewer choices than on the larger cruise lines. My husband and I liked everything but I would have liked the food to be ... Read More
This is a nice new ship. Cabin and bathroom are large. The service is excellent. The food is basic American, good but fewer choices than on the larger cruise lines. My husband and I liked everything but I would have liked the food to be more upscale. The cocktail hour was disappointing. You can only get basic drinks. The staff needs to go to bartending classes and the ship needs to be stocked with everything needed to make all drinks. The entertainment was various piano and guitar players. There are no activities onboard. these need to be added. There is a guest lecturer on board. Shore excursions were fine. The big problem was being stuck in the same port for three days due to high winds. This was extremely boring. We had to be bussed to the excursions and that took a very long time. Had the cruise gone to all the ports on the itinerary I would probably have given this a very good.
There were no children on this cruise. We live near Charleston and highly recommend exploring this departure city. Read Less
My friends and I wanted a short-duration cruise with everything included. The America is a wonderful ship and small enough to really enjoy seeing some of the same people at different meals and excursions. The accommodations were excellent; ... Read More
My friends and I wanted a short-duration cruise with everything included. The America is a wonderful ship and small enough to really enjoy seeing some of the same people at different meals and excursions. The accommodations were excellent; each of the four of us had single cabins across from each other. We had balconies, but the scenery along the lower Mississippi isn't exactly "picturesque." The food was excellent at all the meals and happy hours...so plan on gaining some weight! Soft drinks, coffee, juices and snacks were available all the time in one of the lounges. Beer, wine and mixed drinks were available with meals and at happy hour everyday and we're included in thenprice of th cruise.
Part of the cruise package included a night at a nice hotel in New Orleans the night before the cruise. "The more adventurous" could have enjoyed getting to see parts of the city.
The excursions (which were included) were very interesting and the tour guides were excellent. The ladies I was with weren't really able to do the amount of walking required to walk up the berms along the lower Mississippi River as well as to walk to Oak Alley Plantation. There were golf carts available for part of the distance to the plantations, but the climb up the berm was still a problem. The plantations themselves required a lot of walking as well, but they were all well worth the time and effort to see!
There was a bus tour of Baton Rouge, but there wasn't enough time (45 minute) to really see the Louisiana Museum to do it justice. After the cruise, we did add a bus tour of New Orleans since we had time before our flight home. The price was reasonable and included transportation back to the airport. We did stop and go through one of the unique above -ground cemeteries on the tour.
The entertainment was really wonderful and everyone seemed to enjoy the entertainers.
Overall, it was an excellent trip and I would take another American Cruise Lines cruise again! Read Less
On October 24th we took an American Cruise Line (ACL) trip on their America from St. Paul to New Orleans. Then on December 4th, we took the American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC) cruise on their American Duchess, round-trip, ... Read More
On October 24th we took an American Cruise Line (ACL) trip on their America from St. Paul to New Orleans. Then on December 4th, we took the American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC) cruise on their American Duchess, round-trip, Nashville-to-Nashville. Though both these paddle-wheelers are similar in many ways, we also found numerous differences. (The comments below apply to ACL's America, unless otherwise indicated.)
FOOD: All meals were superb, with many selections available. Everyone had to arrive at the same time, but we could sit wherever we wanted. Most of the tables were configured for 6 persons or more. The food servers were all college-age kids, enthusiastic, and inclined to joke with the passengers. On only one occasion did their inexperience result in a problem when our food arrived much later than it should have.
(On AQSC's Duchess, food was even better, with many selections available for starters, appetizers, main courses, and deserts. Their tables were configured for 4 people; a few would seat 2. We could come to a meal at any time of our choosing; the staff would ask if we would mind sharing a table. If we said "no," we would be seated with another couple, or seated at a new table and another couple would later join us. The waiters, all male, were a professional but reserved lot, and seldom smiled.)
Bottom line: Service slightly better on America, selection slightly better on Duchess. A tie.
DRINK: Wine and beer were provided at lunch, at an hour-long happy hour before dinner, and readily throughout dinner. The wine was of mediocre quality, but we could ask for a better substitute, and it would be readily provided.
(For Duchess, there was no free alcohol for lunch. For dinner, one white and one red wine were provided, also of mediocre quality, but with no option for a substitute. Higher-quality wines were available at steep prices. After we had consumed about half our glass, the staff would appear and refill the glass. After that, no further servings were volunteered, but if we asked for more, it was willingly brought.)
Bottom line: Clear advantage to ACL's America.
DRINK PRICES: Wine was between $6 and $8 a glass, with no surcharge.
(On Duchess , wine was between $8 and $10 a glass, to which a 15% surcharge was added. Beer was slightly less.)
Bottom line: ACL's America was slightly cheaper.
DINING ROOM CAPACITY: The ACL America cruise was at about 50% capacity; they had some place out of sight to store the unused tables, so the dining room seemed very spacious.
(On Duchess, the outer 2/3 of the main dining room was an impressive two stories high, with very large windows. The middle 1/3 was only one story high, as the upper story was taken up by the Lincoln Library mezzanine. That cruise was at about 70% capacity; we were always seated on the outer sides, with the middle tables set, but unused. Duchess has a second dining room, with a much smaller seating capacity, and reservations here were required. With no carpeting, it was much noisier, but the tables were farther apart. It opens to an outside dining area, but was closed on our cruise due to cold weather.
Bottom line: AQSC's Duchess has slightly better dining arrangements.
DRESS: Not formal. A few folks wore jeans, and did not seem out of place. Several wore sport coats and ties, and also did not seem out of place. The overwhelming majority wore casual wear. (We found the same dress code on Duchess.)
CABINS: Our cabin, #202, was the cheapest having a balcony. (America does have a few inexpensive interior cabins, but they are few in number, and are on the 1st deck, mingled amongst the crew.) Our cabin was roomy, had extensive storage space, and everything in the cabin and the bathroom worked perfectly. The TV monitor included channels for a bow camera and a GPS map. The cabin speaker could be switched off or left on to hear announcements and the Riverlorian talks.
(Our Duchess cabin, #213 was an inside cabin, on the 2nd deck. The boat has a large number of these relatively inexpensive cabins. Our cabin seemed a little claustrophobic, with minimal storage. The bathroom was fine, but oddly situated 10" above the cabin floor. Not so hard stepping up, but very awkward stepping back down. The cabin had a speaker, but it had no controls and was never on. The TV had no bow camera or GPS map.)
ENTERTAINMENT: On ACL's America, entertainers were local groups from each stop, performing in the main lounge. Some groups were excellent, some not so much.
(Duchess has a small house band and a troupe of professional entertainers, who perform in a theater-style lounge with an elaborate lighting and sound system. They were very versatile -- shows ran the gamut from Broadway to Country & Western to 50's Rock & Roll. Their performances were consistently excellent.
Bottom line: AQSC's Duchess has the better entertainment.
TOURS: With ACL, there is one tour starting time, and all the buses leave the ship at the same time, and everyone returns at the same time. The tour guides were knowledgeable. We were provided with excellent maps of the town if we wanted to walk around on our own. The day before, the Riverlorians would always have a session to explain the upcoming tours and the historical significance of the stops.
(AQSC uses a "Hop-On/Hop-Off" system, which worked great. Three buses ran a continuous route covering several stops. Each bus had a local tour guide in addition to the driver. The guide would explain the first stop, then let those who wanted to do that stop get off (that was usually most of the bus). Then the guide would explain the second stop to those remaining, and so on. Having three buses and only a few stops meant that no-one had to wait very long for the next bus. Very explicit maps were provided for the tours, and each stop was marked with a prominent placard -- very hard to get lost. There are staggered start times and a kiosk reservation system, so that the entire ship isn't out there waiting for the first bus to leave.)
Bottom line: The AQSC system is far more flexible.
COMFORT: The weather was cold, but all the common areas of America were kept at a very comfortable temperature.
(Our biggest gripe with Duchess was...it was SO DARNED COLD! The two dining rooms, the Lincoln Library, and the theater were OK, but all the common areas averaged around 60 degrees F (my estimate). The "Perks" snack bar was frigid, as were all the hallways and common areas. The only places to sit when not eating or attending a stage show were in these cold common areas.)
Bottom line: More comfortable on ACL's America.
VIEWING THE SCENERY: America features three well-appointed large lounges -- one facing forward, two facing aft --featuring 270-degree views of the outside in each lounge.
(On Duchess, there was virtually no place where one could sit and watch the scenery glide by (other than at mealtimes). None of the common area seating had windows, except for the snack bar, which had two. Outside, there were only a few rocking chairs, without cushions -- of course, on our cruise, it was too cold to go out there. The top deck was closed, and the outside part of the second restaurant was too, most of the time. Yes, those with balconies could see out, but only a narrow slice of view straight to the side.)
Bottom line: Better viewing on America.
Riverlorians: The America had several Riverlorians -- two were also theatrical performers, and one was the great-grandson of Jefferson Davis. All gave superb lectures.
(Duchess had one full-time Riverlorian, who also performed as a musician, plus one Riverlorian-in-training. For the most part, the lectures were excellent.)
Bottom line: Better Riverlorian experience on America.
CLEANLINESS: Our room on America was thoroughly cleaned early each morning. We also noticed that the common areas were constantly being dusted and swept. One day I discovered that an oily soot (presumably from the exhaust) had just appeared on the upholstered furniture on the upper decks. After attending a lecture, I returned to find that all the soot had been removed.
(I didn't notice any problems in the common areas on Duchess; our cabin, most of the time, was well taken care of.)
GLITCHES: Everything on America worked perfectly, from embarkation to daily newsletters and everything in between.
(Initial Duchess reviewers reported numerous problems in ship operations. However, we saw no problems; apparently their "shake down" bugs have been eliminated.)
DISCOUNTS FOR CRUISES BOOKED WHILE ON BOARD: ACL offers one of the biggest discounts I've seen: 15% plus elimination of port charges.
(AQSC offers a relatively meager $200 for booking on-board.)
OVERALL: The spaciousness and quality decor of AQSC's Duchess is impressive. And had the ship been at 100% capacity, I think it would not have seemed crowded. But if ACL's America had been at 100% capacity, I think it would have seemed very crowded, at least in the main lounge. Still, considering the excellence of the ACL lectures, happy hour, and the overall "comfortability" of the ship, I would have to give the edge to ACL's America. Read Less
This was the last cruise of the season, Portland R/T, with only the western half of the Columbia River. The weather was OK, often cloudy & rainy, some sun, but to be expected in mid-October in Oregon. The tours/guides were excellent, ... Read More
This was the last cruise of the season, Portland R/T, with only the western half of the Columbia River. The weather was OK, often cloudy & rainy, some sun, but to be expected in mid-October in Oregon. The tours/guides were excellent, altho we wished for more time at Mt St Helens and some of the Lewis & Clark sites.
The ship was charmingly decorated in traditional paddlewheel style. The cabin/bathroom were quite small but adequate since you didn't spend much time there. The crew was outstanding, from deckhands to housekeeping to servers to ship management and office staff. All of our arrangements were handled efficiently, professionally and cheerfully. Another couple had to change their scheduled cruise date due to medical issues, and it was done without problems or extra fees. What other travel company does that?
The lounges and dining room were very nice, with coffee/tea/snacks always available. The food was outstanding, both at regular meals and evening cocktail hour. Wine/beer and liquor was free-flowing during cocktail time, with wine/beer available at lunch/dinner. Evening entertainment was low-key, a singer of musical duo.
A nice feature was having a hotel night (Raddisson Airport was OK) in Portland the night before embarking. This gave us a chance to meet other passengers, a nice touch. Pre/post transfers were handled perfectly.
The passengers were "senior citizens" who have the time & money to travel on ACL. The group was very friendly & compatible, with interesting people to share stories and meals.
Would I go on ACL again? Maybe. The Queen of the West is the smallest, oldest boat in the group, and I think their other ships would be nicer and have larger cabins. Even at a special sale rate, it was $500+/day/person. While they hyped their other cruises in an sales session, I'm inclined to spend the money in other tours (self or escorted). That said, it was a very good choice for the older passengers who need everything arranged for them. I might consider an Alaskan cruise because of the ability to get into places that larger ships can't reach. It's a trade-off of $$ vs convenience. Read Less
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