70 American Cruise Lines America Cruise Reviews

~~~April 25th – May 4th, 2019~~~ Yesterday’s flights from Orange County Airport, first to DFW and then on to Memphis, were surprisingly pleasant with little turbulence. Evidently, the flight to DFW was a day after a severe weather ... Read More
~~~April 25th – May 4th, 2019~~~ Yesterday’s flights from Orange County Airport, first to DFW and then on to Memphis, were surprisingly pleasant with little turbulence. Evidently, the flight to DFW was a day after a severe weather day there, and the late afternoon flight on into Memphis followed a morning of severe weather there. So, I lucked out! My flight from DFW to Memphis was delayed almost an hour which gave me sufficient time for a large, delicious Chicken Burrito at Pappasito’s Cantina, along with a Margarita, of course. I was set for the rest of the day. ~~~Memphis. Tennessee, April 25th~~~ Arrival in Memphis was at around 4:35 pm and my one piece of luggage was one of the first to arrive on the carrousel. Following the hotel’s instructions, I used the provided hotel reservation telephone to call the Guesthouse at Graceland for a shuttle from the airport. I was told to go out to the middle island of the parking structure where I immediately located the hotel’s shuttle and was soon on my way. A moderate rain was falling on departure from the airport, but it had stopped by the time we got to the hotel, only a short distance away. Checking in at the hotel was easy since I was expected, a packet of information from American Cruise Lines awaiting me. My room is 625 in the North Tower of this rather large and new hotel, right next to Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley, and is very nice and large. The bath has a huge shower with multiple faucets provided a “rain” of water. Quite nice! Being exhausted from my full day’s travel and early rising, I spent the evening in my room, enjoying the free wi-fi and large flat panel TV, before finally going to sleep at around 11 pm (9 pm PDT) in the large, comfortable king-sized bed. I slept until almost 7 am this morning. After showering under the overhead and side faucets, I changed for my included buffet breakfast downstairs at Delta’s Kitchen. Being on Friday, I found breakfast to be quite crowded but easily served myself to my satisfaction. The fare was rather mundane except for delicious fresh fruit: honeydew, pineapple, cantaloupe as well as cheese-scrambled eggs, bacon and biscuits. Excellent coffee, by the way. ~~~Graceland VIP Tour, April 26th~~~ Meeting other members of Linda’s Group waiting in the lobby for our shuttle bus over to Graceland for the included VIP tour, we were quickly transported at 9:15 am across the Elvis Presley Blvd to the entrance to Graceland, a vast and extremely popular tourist attraction here in Memphis. We were checked in, showing our ID, given our tickets including one for lunch, as well as lanyards and wrist-bands, and then directed to other waiting shuttle busses for transfer back across Elvis Presley Blvd. to the Graceland Mansion. Rather modest under today’s standards, the Mansion tour started first with a visit to the living room and adjoining music room, all protected behind ropes. Then it was a tight fit down a hallway to see one of the bedrooms. Elvis’ bedroom and other personal rooms upstairs are NOT available for viewing. Then it was through the dining room into the kitchen and down a narrow stairway to the basement where first we viewed a TV room containing several vintage TV sets showing period-specific TV shows. Then next door into an elaborate game room with a pool table and fabric-covered walls AND ceiling with dizzying colors and designs. Another narrow stairway leads back upstairs and outside to the mansion’s rear with views of a lush paddock complete with grazing horses. Several other buildings were also visited including a handball court, Vernon’s office (Elvis’ father), and another containing a myriad of Elvis memorabilia. The final attraction was the Garden of Memories with the graves of Elvis and other family members around a spectacular pool with dancing fountains. This was adjacent to the swimming pool for the Mansion. Although our tour could last all day, enough was enough, and we returned to the spot around the rear of the Mansion to which we had been delivered earlier for the return shuttle back across Elvis Presley Blvd. to the extensive complex there including a display of Elvis’ planes, one a converted Convair 880 named “Lisa Marie” after his daughter and the other, smaller Lockheed Jetstar named “Hound Dog II”. Other buildings housed collections of Elvis’ many luxury cars as well as motor cycles and other motor craft. There is certainly enough to see up to one’s personal endurance limits. Mine was easily achieved and I sought out one of the several eateries in which to use my $15 lunch voucher. Glady’s Diner caught my eye and I entered to find many options available; my choice was for the Chicken Alfredo Pizza, receiving a huge quarter pizza for $7.89 along with a 20-ounce chocolate milkshake for $4.95. The pizza was delicious, and I ate every bit of it, enjoying the chocolate shake with it. My $15 meal voucher just paid for it, I was informed. Finally, it was time to call it quits and return by shuttle bus back to the Guesthouse. Tonight, I have planned a trip downtown to the Rendezvous Restaurant for their famous barbecued ribs, taking a pre-paid shuttle at 6 pm provided by the hotel for $10 RT. They are NOT in business for the pleasure! On return to the hotel I purchased a glass of Sauvignon Blanc at a bar downstairs and was charged $15! They do have a captive audience here, but REALLY! That’s all for now. More later on this evening’s dining experience. ~~~My Evening at the Rendezvous in Memphis, April 26th~~~ At 6 pm I took the hotel’s shuttle into the downtown district to the corner of 2nd & Beale Street, next to the Hard Rock Cafe, at the very entrance to the very active entertainment district on Beale Street. Two blocks are blocked off from vehicular traffic, allowing the throngs of merry-makers to roam the street at leisure. My destination was the Peabody Hotel, about three blocks down 2nd; the Rendezvous Restaurant is just down the alley from there. With some difficulty locating the right alley, I finally found the Rendezvous about half way down the alley and entered to encounter stairs down to the basement location which seats over 700 diners. Quickly I was seated at a table for two and placed my order: half rack of ribs with beans and cold slaw, along with a local amber beer. It was incredibly delicious! When finished, I walked back down 2nd to the Hard Rock Cafe, the pickup location to return to the hotel; the next shuttle would not come until 8:30 pm so I went inside the Hard Rock for a beer. At 8:30 pm on the dot the hotel shuttle arrived and soon we were on our way back to the hotel near Graceland. On arrival I returned to my room to repack for our departure the following morning, requiring our luggage to be placed just inside the door to my room, before 7 am the next morning. Then it was to bed. ~~~Embarkation Day, April 27th~~~ The next morning, after a big breakfast at Delta’s Kitchen, I met with others in Linda’s Group in the lobby, awaiting our departure, first for a city tour of Memphis, followed by the trip to the riverboat. Getting on our bus I was surprised and delighted to be recognized by Lily, Cruise Manager for American Cruise Lines, whom I knew from last July’s Grand New England cruise; she was checking the passenger list for boarding. We departed The Guesthouse at Graceland at 9 am. The highlight of our city tour of Memphis was our stop at the Peabody Hotel where we were treated to the 11 am parade of the ducks, down the elevator from the roof - their home – waddling down a red carpet to the fountain in the lobby where they would remain during the day until 5 pm when they would ceremoniously return back to the elevator on the red carpet and back to the roof. There were 6 or 7 ducks who noisily made their entrance, much to the delight of the crowds of onlookers; I went up to the mezzanine for a better view of the events. Then it was back on the bus, and on to the riverboat. At about noon we arrived at the docking location for the America, our riverboat home for the next week, different from the usual location due to high level of the River which had flooded the Beale Street Landing. Instead we found the riverboat docked at a landing on Mud Island, just across from downtown Memphis. Walking down the rather steep ramp to the extended gangway, we all went onboard, crowding the area near the elevators; I chose to bypass them and go directly into the dining room where lunch was being served. I would worry about finding my room and checking in until afterwards. Lunch was delicious along with a glass of cold Sauvignon Blanc wine. Then it was time to find my room, #414 on Deck 4. The crowds around the elevators had disappeared by this time and I quickly found my single room, first door aft of the elevator. The door was open and inside I found my luggage along with a folder of information as well as two door keycards. I then took my boarding pass down to the Office on Deck 2. Security seems almost nonexistent! The riverboat departed Memphis right on schedule at 1 pm, next stop Vicksburg, Mississippi. ~~~Gliding Along the Mississippi River, April 27th~~~ During the afternoon after departing Memphis we glided along the Mississippi River under brilliantly blue skies, enjoying the peace and tranquility of the passing scenery. Occasionally we encountered long barges with several units in tow, plowing their way up or down the River. I found it amazing the length of these barges, some pushing up to 5 or 6 units! How could they negotiate the many bends and turns along the River? At 2:15 pm there was an Excursion Briefing in the Magnolia Lounge where Hotel Officers explained the many different shore excursions offered during our 7-day cruise, most being complimentary with only a few being for a fee. We were given a schedule of all shore excursions and asked to indicate our choices, keeping a copy for our personal reference. Then it was time to unpack! I leisurely did my unpacking and organizing my spacious single balcony stateroom, using only a small part of the very ample storage provided. Being only a week-long cruise, I had packed very sparingly and only used my carryon sized luggage. Soon I was finished and ready to go to the one Happy Hour located in the Sky Lounge, just down the passageway from my room, Aft on Deck 4; another Happy Hour location was in the Magnolia Lounge down on Deck 2 Forward. The Magnolia Lounge is a large room used for many gatherings including the evening’s entertainment. Happy Hours feature open bars with complimentary cocktails of choice besides a large selection of wines, beers, and appetizers; one of the benefits of this rather expensive cruise. Being an American-flagged riverboat, the crew is all American which requires American-level wages, also contributing to the high cost of the cruise. After a couple glasses of my favorite Sauvignon Blanc white wine, it was time to go down to the Dining Room on Deck 1 for dinner. Open seating allows one a choice of places to sit and mine was at a table of several of Linda’s Group, a group of 17. Dinner was excellent with an appetizer or salad followed by an entree, topped off with a delectable dessert. Although there was a banjo player entertaining in the Magnolia Lounge, it was time for bed for me after enjoying two or more glasses of wine. Returning to my stateroom I found my bed turned down and the drapes pulled. There is twice-a-day room servicing aboard. First, I opened up the drapes revealing the passing scenery and then turned on the flat-panel TV to MSNBC, volume turned low, and got into my twin sized bed, and very soon fell asleep. ~~~Vicksburg, Mississippi - April 28th~~~ Although our scheduled arrival time was 12 noon, we actually docked in Vicksburg at around 7 am. Shore excursions would not begin until 2 pm, my choice being the one to the Vicksburg National Military Park. Breakfast is served in the Dining Room from 7:30 am until 9 am and my arrival around 8 am found the Room already fairly full. I had showered in my rather small sized shower stall and then discovered that my Old Spice stick deodorant was almost completely depleted! I had not checked it during my packing. Also, the single purpose razors I had packed must have been quite old as they were almost ineffectual. Some onshore shopping was in order. Back to breakfast, my typical order was a Western Omelet with a side of bacon, along with a toasted English muffin, preceded by glasses of cranberry and orange juices; and delicious coffee, of course! Afterwards it was back to my stateroom to relax before my afternoon tour. My room had already been serviced by then. After lunch, which included my Sauvignon Blanc, it was soon time for our 3-hour tour of the Vicksburg National Military Park, at 2 pm. Being one of the complimentary shore excursions, there were two busloads of us which loaded and departed from alongside the dock and traveled for about 30 minutes through the town of Vicksburg and out to the Park. The countryside was hilly and forested except for the main battlefield where the Confederates had cut down all of the trees on the slopes, placing the trees pointed downhill with barbed wire strung among them as defense against the Union forces. This tactic apparently worked because after repeated attempts, the Union forces failed to prevail. The Union commander, Ulysses S. Grant, then changed his tactic to one of siege, encircling the Confederate forces and attempting to starve them out. It worked and eventually the Confederate commander, John C. Pemberton, surrendered and Vicksburg fell to the Union forces. Our tour was all around these battlegrounds where many monuments are located; northern states’ forces were commemorated: Illinois, Ohio, Maine, Michigan, etc.; as well as southern states’ forces: Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, etc. Vicksburg, sitting on a high hill on a bend of the Mississippi River was of crucial importance to both the North and South; it dominated traffic along the River. Abraham Lincoln was quoted as saying, “Vicksburg is the key! The war can never be brought to a close until that key is in our pocket.” Our tour included a stop at the U.S.S. Cairo Museum where is located the partially reconstructed Union ironclad warship, sunk in the Mississippi River north of Vicksburg by two Confederate electrically detonated torpedoes (mines). It lay submerged until 1956 when it was rediscovered and, with great effort, recovered and partially rebuilt and is now on display, protected beneath a large canopy. The conclusion of our tour was in the Visitor Center that contains many artifacts of the war. Our return to our riverboat was right at 5 pm, just in time for Happy Hour! That first glass of Sauvignon Blanc sure tasted good! ~~~Vicksburg, Mississippi - April 29th~~~ After spending the night at dock at Vicksburg, breakfast had to be completed early in preparation of our 9 am tours. My usual order was delivered quickly, and I finished in plenty of time to return to my stateroom briefly. At 9 am I went down to catch the shuttle bus up the very steep hill into downtown Vicksburg but evidently got on the wrong bus, the Historic Vicksburg Comes to Life, a two-hour guided walking tour. It did turn out to be a very interesting and informative walk although my poor feet and legs were certainly complaining by its conclusion. We saw many classic homes of the antebellum style, trudged up and down the brick streets, and observed the many churches. The tour ended on a downtown street where is located the original store selling Coca Cola. I easily found a pharmacy where I was able to buy deodorant and another razor and then caught one of the shuttles back down the hill to the docks and our riverboat. It was a relief to return to my room and give my legs and feet some well-needed rest. Lunch would be at 12 noon, just before the America departed Vicksburg at 1 pm. Next stop, Natchez, Mississippi! ~~~Gliding Again Along the Mississippi River, April 29th~~~ Having departed Vicksburg during lunchtime, at 1 pm, we were again gliding down the Mississippi River under brilliantly blue skies. We have been so VERY fortunate with our excellent weather since first arriving in Memphis last Thursday when we encountered a brief shower on the way from the airport to the hotel. Since then it has been absolutely clear and beautiful! During the afternoon in the Magnolia Lounge, members of the staff presented a special presentation of future cruises, both on American Cruise Lines as well as on Pearl Seas Cruises, the sister company of ACL. Future cruises could be booked with a 15% discount plus forgiveness of the port fees and taxes, a considerable savings! Since I had previously booked the 15-day “Canadian Maritimes & St. Lawrence Seaway” Cruise with Pearl Cruises, I was interested in possibly rebooking in order to take advantage of the onboard booking savings. At first, I was told that - once booked, it was not possible to rebook. However, in my discussion with Keaton Jamerson, Guest Services Advisor, he suggested it might be possible to cancel my existing booking, pay the cancellation charge, and then immediately rebook onboard with the above-mentioned savings. He was on the telephone several times with Pearl Seas discussing my situation. There was the possibility that, once cancelled, my coveted choice of Single Stateroom 512 might not be available for my rebooking, and there were no other such single staterooms available. Long story short, Keaton was successful in rebooking that stateroom 512 on the Pearl Mist for me, after I had emailed my cancellation request to Pearl Cruises, and with the 15% discount + port fees and taxes! I saved over $2600! Happy Hour afterwards was especially happy! We arrived at Natchez at 6:30 pm, during dinner, but docked across the River in Vidalia, Louisiana, due the high waters flooding the Natchez docks. At the very base of the large bridge crossing the River, we pulled up to a pretty riverside park area, and let down the gangway for disembarkation, tying up to nearby trees. This was the second time that the high-water level of the River had affected our docking location. After finally getting to sleep, fighting the traffic noise from the nearby bridge, I slept until the morning’s traffic resumption awakened me around 6 am. For such small towns of Natchez and Vidalia, the volume of bridge traffic connecting them was surprisingly heavy. ~~~Natchez, Mississippi and Vidalia, Louisiana - April 30th~~~ Breakfast was my usual Western omelet with bacon, and I had to rush things a bit in order to get to my 9 am shore excursion to the Frogmore Plantation. It was a short bus ride into Louisiana from the park area next to our riverboat’s docking to this very interesting and thorough tour of a working a cotton plantation: During a visit to this historical plantation, visitors will gain an understanding of the complete antebellum lifestyle. This tour compares and contrasts a working cotton plantation from 1790 through today. Visitors learn about slave culture, sharecropping, and modern technology. During this narrated tour, explore the plantation’s buildings, including a rare antique steam gin and the only completely computerized gin in the nation. At the conclusion of the tour, we were all seated on benches facing the porch of one of the buildings, forming a stage of sorts, and were presented with a narration of the history of the plantation, interspersed with a cappella singing by two very accomplished singers, one an elderly white man in period dress, the other a black lady dressed also in period costume. They were excellent! A perfect ending to a memorable experience. Back at the America, it was time for lunch when we returned. There would be a second shore excursion across the River in Natchez at 2 pm. Lunches were always delicious with unique salads, using a lot of spinach leaves, accompanied by sandwiches, pasta dishes, or HUGE hamburgers. Dessert for me became my usual mint-chocolate chip ice cream. AND, of course, my Sauvignon Blanc wine! The afternoon shore excursion was to an antebellum house in the Historic District in central Natchez, the Joseph Newman Stone House, over 140 years in the same family: "Rare antique maps adorn the walls of this unique property, outstanding for its antebellum origins as a private billiard hall built in the style of a Greek temple, as well as for its rare pocket doors with ornamental glasswork. The builder was David Stanton, whose brother built world-famous Stanton Hall, also located in the Downtown Historic District. Acquired in 1877 by Joseph Newman Stone, it has remained in the Stone family for 140 years, now operating as a bed & breakfast, featuring family portraits and antiques. Each fall the house is open to the public during the Natchez Pilgrimage. Additionally, it has won the Historic Natchez Foundation's 2003 Restoration Award as well as TripAdvisor's Travelers' Choice Awards in 2012 & 2013 for the top 25 bed & breakfast inns in the United States. Bed & breakfast accommodations are offered in the Master Bedroom or the Cottage. A full Southern breakfast is served in The Dining Room on antique Limoges china. Guests who stay a minimum of two nights are invited to a 'Soirée Musicale' featuring live piano entertainment with complimentary wine in The Antebellum Music Room, while The Antebellum Billiard Hall showcases a fine antique billiard table. Stone House Musical B & B is found in the Downtown Historic District, an easy walk to many tour houses, antique shops, fine restaurants, other B & B inns or hotels, as well as the famous 200-foot bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River, making it an ideal destination for any vacation on the Great River Road or Natchez Trace." Upon entering we were all seated in the front parlor facing a grand piano in front of large pocket doors containing beautiful glass panels. The owner and great grandson of the original owner, Joseph Britton Stone, greeted us and proceeded to pleasure us with his musical mastery, presenting a concert of four selections of classical music on the 1903 Steinway Parlor Grand Piano. We were all mesmerized by his talent and the ambiance of the setting. We were then given a tour of the several rooms of the house, all spectacularly adorned with family photos and artifacts as well as exquisite furnishings and chandeliers. There was the dining room, with the table set with formal tableware including Limoges china, the billiard room with its antique billiards table, the kitchen, and one of the bedrooms, papered with unusual wall coverings and presenting a high canopied bed. All absolutely gorgeous! Then the owner offered us all our choice of champagne or a select liqueur, served in beautiful crystal glassware. A real unexpected treat! All during our visit, the house puppy, “Precious”, a rare Tibetan Spaniel, mingled and sniffed us all, a very friendly “cohost” of the house. As we departed this treasure of a home, Joseph Stone stood at the door with Precious in arm, bidding us all adieu. It had been a most special visit! By the time we again crossed the River using the bridge back to our riverboat on the Vidalia side, it was almost time for Happy Hour! This company surely does not spare the expense as far as alcohol! The Sky Lounge on Deck 4 was my favorite, preferred over the larger Magnolia Lounge, although it did become quite crowded at times. There was an outside seating area just back of the Sky Lounge where comfortable chairs provided a pleasant place to sit and view the surroundings and our spectacular weather. After dinner this was my one time to stay up late and go to the Magnolia Lounge for the entertainment with tonight’s feature, Judy Davis, a large black lady who was EXCELLENT! Her material was nonstop hilarious, interspersed with vocal selections, also quite good. Her comedy was most enjoyable, and I didn’t regret my choice over another early night to bed. Our riverboat departed our docking at 11:30 pm, next stop Baton Rouge, tomorrow, May 1st. Our time is passing much too rapidly! ~~~Baton Rouge, Louisiana - May 1st & 2nd~~~ Traveling overnight from Natchez, Mississippi, we arrived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana early in the morning of May 1st where, after some expert manipulation in the fast-moving waters of the Mississippi River, our riverboat tied up to a new pier near downtown Baton Rouge. Our location was adjacent to the permanent home of the USS Kidd which is open to the public: "Known as the “Pirate of the Pacific,” this Fletcher-class destroyer is a memorial to the men and women that served in the American armed forces. Take a step back in time on this self-guided tour to see artifacts and aircraft from World War II. This is an experience that will leave you speechless." Our original schedule called for our docking at St. Francisville for our shore excursion to the Rosedown Plantation, but the high-water level of the River had flooded the docks there, requiring our early docking in Baton Rouge and a bus trip back up the River to St. Francisville and the Plantation. This would happen at 2 pm in the afternoon. Breakfast was leisurely with no time pressure, just sitting in the dining room, enjoying my Western omelet with bacon, cranberry and orange juices with coffee and an English muffin, looking out the large windows at the bright clear morning and the stunning skyline of downtown Baton Rouge. The historic Old State Capitol Building was very close, and the tall tower of the new State Capitol Building could be seen in the distance. The rest of the morning was spent in my stateroom relaxing and getting ready for the afternoon’s tour. Soon after lunch was over, at 1:30 pm, we exited the America and walked to the end of the pier, crossed a railroad track, to get to our busses. This being one of the complimentary shore excursions, almost everyone onboard was going, requiring 4 busses; I was on bus #1. It was a scenic ride of one hour back up the River passing through lush green forests and fields. Our arrival at the antebellum Rosedown Plantation then required a short walk from the parking lot up to the main house where our bus group assembled on the large porch, awaiting entry. The lady guide, dressed in a period costume, explained the history of the Plantation and then ushered us inside to the parlor and then past the stairway into the front bedroom. Furnished with authentic items, the feeling of being in the past was overwhelming. We then went up the long stairway to the second floor to other bedrooms and then down the back stairway into the kitchen. Then it was back outside where we encountered the second bus group awaiting their turn. Quite a bunch of visitors to accommodate all at once, but well-handled if I do say so. The exterior of the mansion was fronted by tall white columns, so prevalent in the architecture of the period. The surrounding grounds were carefully manicured gardens with interwinding paths. Then it was time to return to our bus for the short trip into the small town of St. Francisville. We traveled up and down several streets in this small picturesque town, at one point seeing the road down to the flooded docks, until we stopped at a store where we were allowed a shopping break. The place was huge with a wide array of merchandise, mostly very eclectic. Fresh lemonade was freely offered, which tasted fantastic! Bathroom facilities were also available. Then it was back on the bus, back to Baton Rouge and our floating home by 5 pm, just in time for Happy Hour! Many passengers chose to walk off the riverboat and walk into town for shopping, sightseeing and dining, but I chose to stay aboard for the night. Tomorrow we would once again be docked in Baton Rouge with a city tour scheduled for 2 pm. ~~~Baton Rouge, Louisiana - May 2nd~~~ Knowing about my upcoming visit to Baton Rouge, I had previously contacted my friends, Bob and Virginia Bogan, who live here, and invited them to join me aboard the America for cocktails and dinner, an advertised benefit offered to passengers. Virginia had also expressed a desire to join me on the afternoon city tour and, with approval of the manager, this is what happened. There were two different times for the city tour: 9 am and 2 pm, and we had decided on the later. I had given details about the Bogan’s to the staff to facilitate their coming onboard and shortly before 1:30 pm Virginia showed up in Magnolia Lounge where I had been waiting. Virginia is the sister of Jim Innerarity, my dear friend who passed away three years ago; we had spent time together on several occasions while Jim was alive, so I know her well. We went back up to my stateroom for a brief bathroom visit and then back down and off the boat, walking to the end of the pier to the waiting bus. Traveling around the downtown area we passed by the Old State Capitol Building, and later the “New” State Capitol Building, built in the 30’s by Governor Huey P. Long of Louisiana’s notorious fame. We also passed by his “new” Governor’s Mansion which strongly resembled the White House in Washington, D.C. Huey had presidential aspirations also! But he was assassinated before he could pursue that. Further driving around the downtown area brought us to the Capitol Park Museum where we allowed to spend an hour viewing the extensive displays and exhibits portraying the history of Louisiana. It would have taken much longer than one hour to fully investigate this vast collection! By the time we returned to the riverboat it was almost time for Happy Hour and, after a quick trip back to my stateroom, Virginia and I went to the Sky Lounge on Deck 4 to partake of a beverage. Bob and their daughter Jennifer would be joining us shortly for dinner. In fact, just after we sat down, Virginia called Bob on her cellphone and, immediately Bob and Jennifer walked into the Lounge! They had gone to my stateroom and heard the noise down the hall from the nearby Sky Lounge. We all ordered drinks and enjoyed visiting for a while before going down to dinner. Since several of the passengers had chosen to dine ashore, the dining room wasn’t very full and the four of us easily found a nice table by the window. The Bogan’s were all impressed by the menu and, at my suggestion, ordered the Beef Tenderloin (fillet mignon, really); my order was for the Rack of Lamb. Desserts were also enjoyed by all and then it was time for a brief tour of the America before my guests had to depart. Going up to the top deck, we just caught the fading sunset, but the clear evening provided a fantastic view of the skyline of Baton Rouge. They were all very impressed. Then it was time for our goodbyes and the departure of the Bogan Family. It had been a VERY enjoyable and meaningful reunion. Next stop: New Orleans! ~~~New Orleans, Louisiana - "Oak Alley", May 3rd~~~ Traveling the short distance from Baton Rouge, having departed at 11:30 pm, our arrival at the Port of New Orleans was early on the morning of Friday, May 3rd. Today would be the last of our wonderful cruise and the one task remaining was the settling of our onboard accounts, easily done by verifying our charges and authorizing credit card payment. Mine was only $75 for the two shore excursions that were not complimentary. Breakfast was as usual with views of the modern Port of New Orleans Building outside the dining room windows, under sunny blue skies. My order was a Western omelet with bacon, juices, muffin and coffee. It would be hard to say goodbye to our very talented servers, most of whom were college students; they had been most friendly, cheerful and efficient performing their excellent service. There was an early lunch at 11:30 am because of the early departure of the afternoon’s excursion at 1:30 pm to Oak Alley, a magnificent plantation mansion: "The Plantation has been called “The Grande Dame of the Great River Road.” Enjoy the 1/4-mile canopy of 300-year-old live oaks as you make your way to the Greek Revival antebellum home. Take a tour of the Big House, led by guides in period clothing and then spend some time exploring the magnificent grounds on your own. For the full southern experience, don’t forget to take time for a mint julep." So after enjoying one more lunch in the dining room, with time for a quick trip back to my stateroom for a bathroom call, it was off the America and a short walk over to the busses (4) to begin our hour-long drive back up the River to Oak Alley which is located just on the other side of a large River levee. The drive out of New Orleans was enjoyable with views of the downtown high-rise buildings along with the Superdome, so famous from the Katrina disaster. We were on Interstate 10 with heavy traffic for the first part of the journey. Out of the city, the freeway became a series of bridges over a swampy landscape, some classified as being a bayou. No place to have car trouble! Most of us took quick naps during the drive awakening only as we departed the Interstate for a smaller highway that followed along the large levee of the Mississippi River. Finally arriving at Oak Alley, we drove past the legendary entrance walkway through the canopy (alley) of huge old oak trees, but didn’t stop until reaching the large parking lot, provided for the hordes of visitors to this popular tourist attraction. It was then quite a walk from the parking lot into the grounds of Oak Alley, entrance requiring tickets provided by our own guide. We were guided to the front of the Mansion where a cue formed, awaiting limited entrance inside; only a certain number were admitted at a time. When our turn came, we were escorted into the main parlor that was furnished with authentic period furniture and many other items of historic nature. Our guide was a young black girl who spoke clearly and informatively, well versed on the history of Oak Alley. Then we were ushered into the dining room where we found a large dining table all set with china and tableware. Over the table was a large fan-type panel which would have been swung back and forth using a rope by a slave child to provide air flow for the diners. We had seen such apparatus in other dining rooms in other antebellum homes. We were then directed up the long stairway to the second level; “long” because of the very high ceilings of the first floor. Upstairs we toured through several bedrooms complete with high canopied beds; the beds seem to be set quite high off the floor, I thought. In one of the bedrooms we observed a baby’s crib. Our exit was onto the wide second floor balcony that surrounded the entire house with a stunning view down the “alley of oaks” in front, a most impressive view! Then it was back down that long, steep stairway and out of the rear door where we were presented with the wide expanse of shaded park-like setting with many benches for resting. On the other side of this park area was the commercial side of things: a gift shop and the “Spirits” Bar. It was to the bar that I went for my complimentary mint julep! Not waiting very long to be served, I received my drink and then selected a table outside under an umbrella at which to sit and enjoy my first mint julep! It was GOOD! Surprisingly strong with bourbon - for a free drink, l found it to be quite tasty and refreshing. By the time I had finished my drink it was time to start the long walk back to the parking lot and our bus for the long trip back to New Orleans and our riverboat. Needless to say, our ride back saw most passengers dozing. The weather had been phenomenal as I commented to our guide upon leaving the mansion. She responded that it was not always so, as I was later to learn. Arrival back at the America was right at 5:30 pm, just in time for Happy Hour! Funny how this has happened so frequently! My tall glass of cold Sauvignon Blanc tasted good as ever. Several of Linda’s Group were in attendance and eventually we all wandered down to the dining room for our last dinner aboard. And what a dinner it was! “Surf and Turf” consisting of a lobster tail stuffed with crab meat accompanied by a small beef tenderloin (filet mignon). What a finale to an outstanding cruise! The wine also flowed freely, and our goodbyes were given to the crew. It was with great reluctance that I excused myself to return to my stateroom to pack; our luggage was requested to be placed outside our doors before retiring. My packing didn’t take very long; dirty shirts don’t have to be carefully folded! About this time the storm hit with lightning and thunder. Good timing as far as our cruise was concerned, but not too good timing for those of us flying home the next day. Sleep came with difficulty. ~~~New Orleans, Louisiana, Departure Day - May 4th~~~ The storm continued through the night and the next morning was dark and cloudy and rainy. Early breakfast began at 6:30 am and we were requested to vacate our staterooms by 8 am, so with my luggage now gone all I had to carry was my Princess bag contains paperwork and my iPad. I had gotten Keaton of Guest Services to print my AA boarding pass the previous day, not being able to get it done on my own. I had checked in with American Airlines successfully on my iPad, requesting my boarding pass to be emailed to me as a PDF, but when I went to the AA website using the computer onboard, the option to PRINT was not available on the AA website, and I cannot print from my iPad! So, I forwarded the AA email to Keaton and he graciously printed the attached PDF boarding pass for me. Thank you, Keaton! I did order my usual Western omelet with bacon and the other items and finished my breakfast with plenty of time to return to my stateroom to retrieve my Princess bag and then go to the Magnolia Lounge to await our call for the shuttle bus to the airport, scheduled for 8:30 am. Shortly after 8 am the rain had let up briefly and we were called to disembark and proceed to the busses, thankfully parked nearby the riverboat. After quickly identifying my piece of luggage, and watching it being loaded aboard, I boarded the bus just before the rain began again. When all were loaded aboard, our bus pulled out of the parking lot and proceeded to leave for the airport, using the same route out of town that had been used the day before for our drive to Oak Alley. (We had passed the airport on the way to Oak Alley.) The rain continued all the way to the airport although the Saturday morning traffic was mercifully light making our drive uncomplicated. We arrived at the New Orleans International Airport a few minutes after 9 am. Getting off the bus right in front of American Airlines Terminal, I retrieved my one piece of luggage and soon had checked it with the AA Skycap, tipping him, of course. He directed me inside the terminal and to the left towards the Security Checkpoint. Having TSA Pre-check, I quickly proceeded through with no delay and was soon on my way to the appropriate gate for my 11:19 am departure to DFW. It was quite a walk to Gate C12, but I had plenty of time. The storm was still raging outside with frequent flashes of lightning and accompanying thunder so it became increasingly clear that my flight would be delayed. After a while, once a gate agent had arrived and started taking questions, I thought it best to join the line to inquire about my connecting flight in DFW. The line moved painfully slowly but at last it was my time. The agent agreed that I would NOT be able to make my connecting flight in DFW and proceeded to rebook me on a later flight from DFW on to SNA (Orange County); it would arrive at 6 pm, only two hours later than my original flight’s arrival of 4 pm. She even got my seat assignment almost the same as originally booked: 8D instead of 8C! You can’t ask for better service than that! With the projected departure time now delayed until 1 pm, and my rebooking done, I decided it was time for a cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and there was a wine bar just down from my Gate C12. The wine I got was superb! I learned that it was from New Zealand, the place known for their excellent Sauvignon Blanc. Then I got the check: $15! Wines are expensive in the South! I enjoyed it never the less. Shortly after 1 pm our flight was called for boarding; the flight had originated in DFW and been held up from departing until the weather had cleared in New Orleans. I boarded - almost 3 hours late, found my Main Cabin Extra Seat 8C, and settled down to an otherwise uneventful one-hour flight to DFW. Once in DFW I had a few hours before my rescheduled flight so, once I had found out my departure gate and trudged the considerable distance to it, I still had enough time to enjoy a delicious BBQ Chicken Sandwich at a nearby Friday’s with delicious onion rings and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc wine, of course. My AA flight 2779 left DFW on time and the 3-hour flight went uneventfully, with my consuming two little bottles of white wine (complimentary), and we landed in Orange County Airport shortly after 6 pm. My luggage had successfully been rerouted and arrived on the carrousel soon afterwards. Then it was out of the airport and over to SuperShuttle where I had prepaid transportation home. The agent told me that it would be 30-45 minutes before he had a van for me and suggested just cancelling my $20.50 SuperShuttle ride for a refund and take a taxi, which is what I did, costing only $23.00 + tip, but I was home! So ends my Lower Mississippi River Adventure, a wonderful experience despite its ending! Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We selected this cruise because it was completing a bucket list item for us - seeing all 50 states of the United States. This cruise exceeded our expectations in most every area. The staff was warm and knowledgeable. They made every ... Read More
We selected this cruise because it was completing a bucket list item for us - seeing all 50 states of the United States. This cruise exceeded our expectations in most every area. The staff was warm and knowledgeable. They made every effort to accommodate our requests. The food was outstanding with regional specialties. We enjoyed the opportunity to order half-portions but think we still added a couple of extra pounds. The on-board historian and musician, Tom Hook, added depth and enjoyment to each day. A pleasant surprise was the series of Watercolor Painting classes with Linda Curtis. To have such a high caliber instructor available each day in entertaining and informative classes, was a real plus. The weather was springtime stormy with the Mississippi River well above flood stage. The ship never even rocked! Unless it was with music. The entertainment was fun and all of the acts were top-notch. We are not Jazz and Blues fans, but thoroughly enjoyed the presentations. The stars encouraged audience participation and there were many laughs and smiles. There were a few minor changes in itinerary due to tornados and thunder storms but the staff reorganized quickly and we still enjoyed all of the excursions. There was a personal touch from the Cruise Director and the many step-on guides at each destination. We enjoyed this American Cruise Lines trip so much that we are already confirmed for a new trip next spring! Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
civil war history cruise lectures were excellent.. info on Mississippi history, civil war history, US history entertainment was in a smaller venue... smaller groups... the comedian "Judy" was excellent... the singer Laura ... Read More
civil war history cruise lectures were excellent.. info on Mississippi history, civil war history, US history entertainment was in a smaller venue... smaller groups... the comedian "Judy" was excellent... the singer Laura was also... we had a small area for dancing... wish it had been more closer relationship with crew and other passengers new technology class was excellent... it would be worthwhile to take the cruise just for this lots of info regarding I phone shortcuts etc ... regarding the cabin... we got a deluxe cabin... was nice ... but ... some other cruise lines give "VIP" service to cabin upgrades.. the service was generally exceptional but was not different based on the room type... if you can get adequate room without this much upgrade you might save some bucks we will certainly cruise again with American... It is a relaxed, more social, in depth cruise experience .. likely the Columbia next Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We got to New Orleans the day before our trip. Two members of our party spent the day at the WWII museum, which they thoroughly enjoyed. The rest of us took the trolley to shop at the French market and enjoy beignets. We were picked up ... Read More
We got to New Orleans the day before our trip. Two members of our party spent the day at the WWII museum, which they thoroughly enjoyed. The rest of us took the trolley to shop at the French market and enjoy beignets. We were picked up at the hotel by the cruise company. Our bags were loaded for us onto the bus. We rode to the ship, where we embarked for snacks at 11:00. Our bags were transferred to our room for us during the welcome aboard! The ship was beautiful, clean, and roomy. The food was FANTASTIC!! There was always a seafood, two different meats, and vegan option for each meal. Meal service was smooth with beautiful table settings. The excursions were interesting and informational about our history. We visited various plantations, and historic towns. The onboard activities featured a river laureate, jazz music, and a sweet and funny comedian. The crew met our every want and need with a smile. It was a spectacular time. We are making plans to travel with America Cruise Line again on a different river. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Always wanted to travel the Mississippi River by riverboat. It was a relaxing and very informative cruise. Especially liked the shore excursions to the Civil War battlefields. The boarding process was the easiest and quickest that I ... Read More
Always wanted to travel the Mississippi River by riverboat. It was a relaxing and very informative cruise. Especially liked the shore excursions to the Civil War battlefields. The boarding process was the easiest and quickest that I have experienced. We took advantage of the pre-cruise package that included a tour of Graceland, two nights as the Graceland hotel and transportation to the ship. The ship as immaculately kept and the staff could not have been more professional and attentive. Our cabin was the largest we have had on a cruise with floor to ceiling sliding glass doors opening to a private balcony with chairs and table. We made stops in Vicksburg, Natchez, St Francisville, Baton Rouge, Oak Alley, and New Orleans. There were on board lectures about the Mississippi River and the Civil War battlefields that we visited given by very informative experts. The shore excursions were excellent with very informative tour guides. The food was excellent and service was quick and efficient. Disembarkation was very organized. They provided transportation to the Airport in New Orleans as well as an optional two hour bus tour of the city on the way to the airport. We have already signed up for another cruise with American Cruise Lines in 2019 "Maine Coast and Harbors". Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Small ship cruise up the Mississippi River on the "America." This ship has a capacity of about 175 passengers, but it wasn't full so there was only about 150 guests. My single cabin was very spacious. It contained a desk ... Read More
Small ship cruise up the Mississippi River on the "America." This ship has a capacity of about 175 passengers, but it wasn't full so there was only about 150 guests. My single cabin was very spacious. It contained a desk with 6 ample drawers, a short bureau with 3 large drawers and a TV on top, a twin bed, a small bedside table, a desk chair, and a swivel chair. The bathroom was adequate and efficient with 2 drawers next to the sink, though the shower stall was a little cramped. Grab bars in the bathroom and shower were nicely placed. Marine toilet was fine. Balcony had a table and 2 chairs. Everything was very well cleaned and maintained. The food was very, very good. Many meals were excellent, a couple were marginal, but overall we were not disappointed. The dining room was open seating -- you could sit anywhere and with whoever you want at all meals. You sat with various strangers and became friendly traveling companions and then friends. The dining room served breakfast (7:30am to 9:00am), lunch (12:30pm) and dinner (6:30pm). Breakfast could be anything you wanted to order (no buffet). They served a limited menu at lunch and dinner; basically 4 selections with a choice of meat (beef or pork or lamb), chicken, fish, and a vegetarian dish. If you didn't like anything on the menu, you could ask for a hamburger or a sandwich. They were very accommodating. Appetizers were either soup or a salad (and these were always excellent!). You usually got a choice of 2 delicious desserts, and there was always ice cream. You did have to pre-select your lunch and dinner choices in the morning at breakfast so the chef would know how many of what item to prepare. (I always forgot my selections so took a picture of the selection card with my smartphone to review later!) Shore excursions were hit or miss. So much depended on the tour guide. Some guides were good, others not so good. This was a 3-week cruise so we stopped at about 20 cities. There were days that we had 2 excursions, and days that we only had one, depending on the schedule. Overall, the tours were worthwhile. I would have liked spending more time in each port city, but that's the nature of any cruise -- you only get a taste of what you are visiting, and then you are on your way to the next stop. The majority of excursions are included in the price of the cruise. There were some that you had to pay extra for. Evening entertainment was limited, but extremely talented. They brought in singers or musicians every night to entertain us for an hour or so. Remember, this is a small ship so don't expect Broadway or Las Vegas productions! It was simple but fun. I highly recommend American Cruise Lines. This was my 3rd cruise with them. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
For years I have wanted to do a small ship cruise in the USA. We embarked in New Orleans and disembarked in Memphis. The ship is small 185 passengers but this allows people to get to know each other. The cabins are much larger than on ... Read More
For years I have wanted to do a small ship cruise in the USA. We embarked in New Orleans and disembarked in Memphis. The ship is small 185 passengers but this allows people to get to know each other. The cabins are much larger than on ocean cruises and very nicely appointed. Dining is everyone at one time which is nice. It starts at 7:30 am for breakfast, 12:30pm for lunch and 6:30 for dinner. The food is outstanding with "different" and better recipes than the ocean cruise lines. Entertainment is a little lacking but understandable. Service was excellent. The ship is manned by mostly college aged people. They did an outstanding job and I was impressed. I do not believe I would do any part of the Mississippi river again but I think the Snake River would be interesting. The Mississippi lacked scenery for one thing and the river is mostly commercial traffic. The shore excursions provided at no cost by the ship were very interesting. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Everything about this cruise was first class from the embarkation to the disembarkation. The Cabins are spacious for river ships and the staff is well trained and friendly. The daily cocktail hour (with premium liquors) is a good time to ... Read More
Everything about this cruise was first class from the embarkation to the disembarkation. The Cabins are spacious for river ships and the staff is well trained and friendly. The daily cocktail hour (with premium liquors) is a good time to meet the other passengers and relax after an interesting day. The included excursions are informative and fun. The entertainment is varied and good. I was especially impressed with number of areas on the ship for relaxation, entertainment, early coffee, playing games or just conversing -- both inside and out. I would recommend this trip to anyone interested in the history of the south -- especially the Civil War period. The only thing to take into consideration is the age of the passengers. I am 75 and think I was average or below the age of most of the guests. That may be a factor for some, but people who still want to travel at that age are interesting and vibrant even if they do not move as well as they once did. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
I have always wanted to travel up the River in a paddlewheeler, and my DH and I decided to take a trip up the Mississippi River, for an 8 day cruise. We selected the "Round Trip" from New Orleans, and went up as far as Vicksburg. ... Read More
I have always wanted to travel up the River in a paddlewheeler, and my DH and I decided to take a trip up the Mississippi River, for an 8 day cruise. We selected the "Round Trip" from New Orleans, and went up as far as Vicksburg. He had previously done this cruise, many years ago, so he said all good things about it. It was a lot of fun, cabin was spacious, lots of room, king size bed, with balcony; bathroom was nice, with ADA compliant features. Shower had good water pressure. We were only a short walk to either one of different lounges, plus 1 floor above dining room. All very convenient and never got lost. This ship had 5 decks. Staff was exceptional, and always willing to help, and the Captain invited groups to tour the pilot house, where he explained what happens, while steering up/down the river. He was very informative, and we learned a lot. Dining room was always nice, clean, pretty linens/napkins, and our waiter, Jonathan, was OH SO GREAT!!! and AWESOME!!! and HELPFUL, friendly, and saw to anything that was needed, during the meal. He was also knowledgeable about foods and aimed to please. Entertainment nightly, was the flavor of New Orleans jazz and blues; All entertainers we saw were very professional, and they put on great shows for us, lasting about 1 hour 30 mins. Had good variety of onshore excursions to pick from, mostly plantations and a battlefield, in Vicksburg. Plantations on this trip were Oak Alley, Rosedown Plantation, and Houmas House, with couple of city tours, too. Only "negative" was the Vicksburg bus tour, through the battlefields, tended to be a bit drawn out, (long time to sit on bus), with narrator being a bit long winded. Most of tours were built-in to price of cruise, but had a few extra ones, that had an additional charge. Embarking and disembarking was a cinch -- so easy, with no waiting in lines!!! This is definitely the main reason why small ships are best. No MEGA SHIPS for us!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
My husband wants to see all 50 states, so we added on LA and MS. The history was fascinating, great historian on board and on tours. Most beautiful plantation of all was Houmas House. Being a gardener, I was quite enchanted with all the ... Read More
My husband wants to see all 50 states, so we added on LA and MS. The history was fascinating, great historian on board and on tours. Most beautiful plantation of all was Houmas House. Being a gardener, I was quite enchanted with all the flowers, trees, statuary (and very unusual and quirky statues) swan pond, fountains, and the house was gorgeous as well. Oak Alley Plantation was beautiful as well, and on our swamp tour we saw some gators, one up close, and even had one of the flying fish land on our boat, a most unusual happening we are told! New Orleans was delightful. Loved the Cathedral and French Quarter, Cafe Monde has great beignets and chicory coffee. The food onboard was top drawer, amazing chef. I particularly loved the soups. I would highly recommend this tour. Also, my husband uses a cane and walks slowly, and he never felt like he had to hurry on this cruise to catch up. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
My 80 yr. old mother had always wanted to take a paddle wheel boat down the Mississippi and see all the southern Plantations. We had never, ever been on a vacation together so I thought this would be the perfect gift for her, and it was. ... Read More
My 80 yr. old mother had always wanted to take a paddle wheel boat down the Mississippi and see all the southern Plantations. We had never, ever been on a vacation together so I thought this would be the perfect gift for her, and it was. From the hotel stay the night before (The Intercontinental in New Orleans) to the Old Southern Plantations we visited all along the way, we had just the best time. The ship is smaller than ocean going vessels and we found that we really loved that. It was easy to make friends fast and by the end of the cruise you felt that you had an extended family. I personally had about 6 of the staff that I wanted to adopt. Just so enjoyable and fun! The crew was simply amazing and the food was to die for (and I mean delicious beyond words!). Absolutely the best food I've ever had...not just on any other cruise...just ever! All meats and produce are fresh and locally sourced. And you can request "anything" and the chef will make it for you. Anytime we needed anything, the crew was quick to provide it. For this trip we would have liked a bit more on board entertainment and we found that for some of the excursions there was a hic up on the buses running on time but those were minor to our overall enjoyment. Everyone worked very hard to make your time extra special. There was just that personal touch about everything. I would most definitely take a small boat cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
This was my wife’s first cruise so I booked the owner’s suite. Truth be told while it provided a larger cabin and a few more perks, just about every cabin on this boat has a veranda, a great hotel room experience (king size beds) and ... Read More
This was my wife’s first cruise so I booked the owner’s suite. Truth be told while it provided a larger cabin and a few more perks, just about every cabin on this boat has a veranda, a great hotel room experience (king size beds) and all of the perks that American provides - impeccable service, great food, and full access to a virtually unlimited supply of top shelf alcohol and great wines - with no upcharge for anything. Most tours are included and the evening enmterttgainment is excellent. This is a small boat so there is NO waiting in line for anything. The Hotel Director - Steve Benson - was in touch with us prior to the cruise and very helpful, from then until the moment that we departed in New Orleans. I just read a criticism of American Cruise Lines as generally as too expensive and comparable in “cost” to an ocean cruise. This had to have been written by someone who has never cruised on American and apparently unaware of the up charges for about everything on an ocean cruise and the crowds on these boats - not to mention their cost for a veranda cabin. I had read some of these reviews and in an email exchange I told the Hotel Director that I hoped to be able to write. “10” rating fairness the cruise. Truth be told - it’s a “9.9” - horrendous Wi-Fi/Internet on board. The acid test - we booked our next cruise while on board. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
One might assume that paying for the most expensive class cabin AAM Private Balcony (except for the “owners cabins”) would get you at least the largest cabins. . Not so on the boat America. Room 513 is noticeably smaller. Cabin ... Read More
One might assume that paying for the most expensive class cabin AAM Private Balcony (except for the “owners cabins”) would get you at least the largest cabins. . Not so on the boat America. Room 513 is noticeably smaller. Cabin selection from their on line deck plans..they are as it may be said “not to scale” We moved some furniture for me to get into the bathroom when my wife was sitting at the desk. There are canvas dividers that can make your deck private. If you wish a private balcony they will quickly install a divider. Fully controllable a/c unit in your room. The boast has five levels with two elevators. I thought I wanted to be on the left side going downriver to avoid the afternoon sun. Nope, they parked every which way so either side of the boat is fine. All boat staff extremely friendly and want to give you a good cruise. Our Memphis to New Orleans (175 passengers) no children, maybe a couple or two in their 50's but I would have to guess the average passenger age over 65 (I'm 79). Many infirm and slow moving people cheerfully accommodated. Cocktails and hors d'ouvre nightly at 5:30 in two different lounges with a 6:30 open seating dinner in the dining room which can hold everyone at one sitting. We received information that you could reserve a table but it had to be done before leaving on the cruise. Many tables for 6 and maybe 5 tables for 4. There will be a bottle of red and a bottle of white on your table easily exchanged for a different variety if you prefer. Nightly entertainment at 8:15 with root-beer floats, ice-cream Sundays and popcorn. The bar remains open after dinner. If you don't see a bottle of your favorite, ask, they may have it in the closet. Expensive but really well done...if you don't spend it the kids will. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We chose this trip as it focused on Civil War and traveled with two other couples. The ship was a wonderful paddle wheel replica on the Mississippi River. The crew was fantastic, always smiling. The food was fantastic and included lots ... Read More
We chose this trip as it focused on Civil War and traveled with two other couples. The ship was a wonderful paddle wheel replica on the Mississippi River. The crew was fantastic, always smiling. The food was fantastic and included lots of local recipes as well as a general menu, lots of choices. The entertainment and lectures were very informative and given by experts. The off boat tours were interesting especially at Vicksburg. The tour director was well organized; everyone was on and off the boat, on and off the buses, in and out of the tour sites in a very orderly fashion. They thought of everything from bottled water to golf carts for those who needed some assistance. Most of the passengers were retirees of varying physical abilities and the crew was able to handle everyone in a dignified, non-obtrusive manner. All the crew was well trained, from cleaning the rooms to serving the meals. Would definitely recommend. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
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
Sail Date December 2017
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
Sail Date December 2017
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
Sail Date November 2017
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
Sail Date October 2017
Roomy cabin (#303); excellent food, entertainment, common areas, staff & excursions. Very clean, quick to accommodate special requests of any type, New ship (April 2016). All common areas are very clean, attractive, inviting and ... Read More
Roomy cabin (#303); excellent food, entertainment, common areas, staff & excursions. Very clean, quick to accommodate special requests of any type, New ship (April 2016). All common areas are very clean, attractive, inviting and beautifully furnished, as was our stateroom.Food was plentiful, delicious, attractively presented, with lots of choices, excellent service. Variety of entertainment, always good. Definitely most all passengers age 60+ but very active. Very nice, but limited fitness room. I used it several times as there is no outside deck to walk laps all around the ship. Nice 6 hole putting green. All staff friendly and upbeat. We did the upper Mississippi River cruise - relaxing, beautiful scenery, saw lots of bald eagles up close We definitely made the right choice of ship and itinerary. We arrived in St. Louis 3 nights early to explore that city. Drury Plaza Hotel was excellent and in a great location for walking to several sights. Everything including embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly. Highly recommend! Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
WE spent 7 wonderful days and nights on the America. We enjoyed learning and seeing more about the MS River, including the 24 locks and their operation, everchanging scenery and wildlife, especially the high bluffs in Minnesota and the ... Read More
WE spent 7 wonderful days and nights on the America. We enjoyed learning and seeing more about the MS River, including the 24 locks and their operation, everchanging scenery and wildlife, especially the high bluffs in Minnesota and the bald eagles there. We started in St Louis, Missouri and finished in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Trip included a precruise night at the Drury Plaza Hotel, located right at the St Louis Arch which made touring the day before very easy and interesting. We went on a Mark Twain themed cruise so we had the pleasure of 2 nights of entertainment by Richard Garey as Mark Twain plus a walking tour in Hannibal Missouri. River experts were on board with us to point out interesting places as we went up the River. They also had several interesting presentations about the" Great River" and life and industries along it. Towns along the way that we visited included Davenport Iowa, Dubuque, Iowa, Red Wing, Minnesota and La Crosse, Wisconsin. Onboard food was superb and was served by a young,enthusiastic and very personable staff. Other shipboard personnel and managemenet were terrific, too. Staterooms are spacious and well appointed and the bathroom is roomy. Great cruise! Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We've always wanted to enjoy an upper Mississippi River cruise aboard a stern wheeler and particularly looked forward to the Mark Twain themed experience. Having enjoyed ocean and destination sailing under our own command, a small ... Read More
We've always wanted to enjoy an upper Mississippi River cruise aboard a stern wheeler and particularly looked forward to the Mark Twain themed experience. Having enjoyed ocean and destination sailing under our own command, a small boat is a must for us and "America" fit our needs perfectly. With about 160 passengers, she was small enough to provide a sense of being in a boat rather than a floating hotel and she was also large enough to provide wonderful service, cabins, lounges, decks, and cuisine. Ours was a deluxe veranda on the fourth deck, starboard side. This deck provides not only a wonderful observation area with assorted seating forward but also the beautiful "Skylight Lounge" and observation deck aft. The latter was our go to place for cocktails and hor doerves before dinner. There are no add-on expenses aboard "America". An open bar with top shelf spirits and reasonable wines before dinner was a prelude to the wines and beer available at all meals. The food exceeded my expectations: daily "Eggs Benedict" options included salmon, crab, and crayfish. At both lunch and dinner, the chef offered three choices for main courses all of which we found beautifully presented, more than ample in quantity, and of high level restaurant quality. The service was plentiful and enthusiastic, the entertainment both educational and enjoyable, the excursions well planned and worthwhile. Richard Garvey was our on-board "Mark Twain"; his presentations were fabulous offering not just Mark Twain as entertainer, but also Mark Twain as an astute observer, humorist, cynic, and citizen of the world. This was an adult only cruise; we met many wonderfully interesting and interested fellow travelers and would definitely consider another ACL cruise in the future. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
Timing and route. couldn't fault the staff and ship. Everything worked. Superb hard working crew and cruise director. Food as good as it gets and we have done 60+ such cruises since retiring 20 years ago . We did several optional ... Read More
Timing and route. couldn't fault the staff and ship. Everything worked. Superb hard working crew and cruise director. Food as good as it gets and we have done 60+ such cruises since retiring 20 years ago . We did several optional pay extra excursions and thought some over priced. additionally,would like to have heard more commentary on the "passing parade" given that we sailed more than 1600 miles amongst one of the great waterways of the world. note this is just a suggestion, not a criticism on what was truly a wonderful travel experience , great ship and superb all- american crew who looked after we guests who were allseniors as if we were family. After dinner musician entertainers were mostly themselves seniors who played the stuff relished by our own generation. as a former muscian i rate most of what i heard as "intrumental virtuoso". Well done american cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
Terrific cruise of “COMPLETE MISSISSIPPI” – August 4th thru 26th From New Orleans to Saint Paul MN (8 states in 22 days; 21 nights) on the paddle wheeler (fake) “America” operated by American Cruise Lines (ACL); launched in ... Read More
Terrific cruise of “COMPLETE MISSISSIPPI” – August 4th thru 26th From New Orleans to Saint Paul MN (8 states in 22 days; 21 nights) on the paddle wheeler (fake) “America” operated by American Cruise Lines (ACL); launched in 2016; has 185 passenger capacity but we had only 137 passengers on board. The Cruise Critic's professional review (https://www.cruisecritic.com/reviews/review.cfm?ShipID=1182 ) was spot on but I would add my observations and opinions: • The itinerary was FANTASTIC for us (a photographer and an American history buff). DW shot about 300 photos on her phone and more on her professional camera (numerous eagles, herons, pelicans, cormorants, and others plus wonderful antebellum houses). Every port had interesting aspects; some were stunning! I loved the discussions (lectures) and the ports. The excursions were well done with very good local tour guides and with a Cruise Director or an Asst. CD accompanying on the buses (with restrooms). • Clientele is “older”! We had maybe 2 under 60 and several over 90. Many with mobility issues; the staff handled the situations well. Clientele was also “well-heeled”, well-traveled and congenial. • The formal entertainment was very enjoyable. The on-board “Riverorians” were terrific (better than Smithsonian’s lecturers on Regent Seven Seas Cruises) – discussions were about the Louisiana Purchase, cotton/slavery, Civil War, steam boats, immigration to the West, and controlling the Mississippi River water via dam/locks and dredging. Discussions were held in a spacious, comfortable, family room-like venue. The after dinner entertainment (about an hour) was music (jazz, Dixieland, blues, country, and “oldies”- that had some fantastic performers). • Cabin was best that we had on a river cruise – spacious, quiet, bright, with lots of storage drawers and a small but adequate closet. Bathroom is “cozy” but well-lit and well-ventilated with adequate storage and a nice shower with instant hot water. • Food (of course subjective) for us was good; baked goods were SUPERB, per my wife the baker and me the taster. Breakfast was better for me than what I had on "Luxury" cruises. Lots of complimentary wine (mostly California) and beer (some local) during lunch, “Happy-hour”, and dinner service. • Downsides? Yes! -The staff is American college “kids” for which service is surely not going to be a career. We came to expect at least one gliché per day in either dining or house-keeping. -The cruise is “pricey” as it is an American- registered boat that must meet all U.S. maritime regulations. - There is no Doctor or Nurse aboard. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
Never on a cruise. Selected 4 day to "try out" a cruise. We enjoyed it throughly. The ship new, well appointed and easily accessed by elevators and stairs. Enjoyable sun decks on levels 4 and 5. Open seating dining room allowed ... Read More
Never on a cruise. Selected 4 day to "try out" a cruise. We enjoyed it throughly. The ship new, well appointed and easily accessed by elevators and stairs. Enjoyable sun decks on levels 4 and 5. Open seating dining room allowed chance to meet other travelers. The excursions to. several plantations was a positive experience, especially the Houmas Hosee were the tour guides were especially engaging to help understand the story of the time. Meals aboard the ship were plated, well presented and of moderate quantity which was helpful. Throughout the day the breakfast, lunch and dinner meals were augmented with warm cookies at 10 am, tea and sweets at 3 pm, cocktail hour and heavy h'odouvres at 5:30 followed by dinner at 6:30. If that wasn't enough, during entertainment, ice cream sundaes and popcirn were offered. No one went hungry. It was a great ship experience and this cruise line paid attention to all the small details to give us a great experience. Thanks. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We chose this cruise line because it offered the most bang for your buck! And it did not disappoint. We have been on river cruses before, and this cruise surpassed the European river cruses we took. From the large, comfortable cabins to ... Read More
We chose this cruise line because it offered the most bang for your buck! And it did not disappoint. We have been on river cruses before, and this cruise surpassed the European river cruses we took. From the large, comfortable cabins to the food and excursions offered, we were quite happy. The before night stay in New Orleans was at a top notch hotel. The crew was most attentive and made us feel very "special." The on-board activities were informative and the shore excursions were not only easy to participate in, but had a lot to offer. We had free time, which is nice as although we like the escorted tours, it is nice to explore on your own on occasion. If you are looking for a LARGE ship with fancy productions for entertainment, river cruising is not for you. With less than 200 passengers, the venue for entertainment is limited. But the few nights we did attend, we thoroughly enjoyed the selections, which were themed for the region we were visiting. I would recommend this trip and the cruise line. As a matter of fact, we have already booked another trip with American Cruse Line! Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
America Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.4
Dining 4.0 4.3
Entertainment 4.0 4.0
Public Rooms 4.0 4.4
Fitness Recreation 1.0 3.2
Family 1.0 3.2
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.1
Enrichment 5.0 4.1
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.8

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