7 American Cruise Lines Independence Cruise Reviews

Hudson River - Fall foliage peak times are hard to predict and we missed the color this year. I would recommend taking a late October cruise in order to see color on the Hudson. Excursions - The excursions were fee-based, but the fees ... Read More
Hudson River - Fall foliage peak times are hard to predict and we missed the color this year. I would recommend taking a late October cruise in order to see color on the Hudson. Excursions - The excursions were fee-based, but the fees were reasonable. I thoroughly enjoyed the Lyndhurst Mansion, FDR's Hyde Park home and Presidential Library, Thomas Cole home, Olana, West Point, and the Albany City Tour of the State Capitol and NY State Museum. All were superb tours with informative guides. My only complaint is that there was not enough time at most places, especially Hyde Park, West Point, and NY Capitol and Museum in Albany. Entertainment - Nice variety (singers - several different groups, comedian, magician, violinist). Good entertainment. Lectures about the Hudson, the places we were going to visit the next day, the art and culture of the Hudson were very informative and added to the overall experience. Dining - I have never seen so much food at all hours of the day. No one could possible partake in all the food offerings. However, I found the food very salty and had a hard time finding low-sodium selections. The breakfast offerings were amazing. Don't know how they can't prepare so many choices on such a small ship. Cabin - Decor is a little dated. Room is large. There is a lot of drawer space. Bathroom is adequate for one person at a time. Room is not always re-stocked with items unless requested. Service - Varies. We had some excellent dining servers, and some who were new and just learning. Service is slow in the dining room. Embarkation and Disembarkation: Very efficient. New York City: If traveling some distance, one should spend a few days in NY City before or after the cruise. The city has so much to do. Even if you've been to NY before, there is always something new (such as observatory at 9/11 site) and new Broadway plays. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We, with two other couples who also were celebrating 55 years of marriage, were looking for a domestic, low key, intimate cruise. This well fit the bill although it was quite expensive relative to other luxury options......but we ... Read More
We, with two other couples who also were celebrating 55 years of marriage, were looking for a domestic, low key, intimate cruise. This well fit the bill although it was quite expensive relative to other luxury options......but we understood a small vessel simply had to be more expensive. The cruise met or exceeded many expectations, friendliness of staff, cleanliness and size of state rooms and other spaces, interesting ports, good shore excursions and generally good + food quality, variety and presentation. BUT, the food service was barely acceptable and the server we had would not last a day at a restaurant like Cracker Barrel. Aside from the captain, first mate, chef and hotel manager, the entire staff appeared inexperienced. While the staff were invariably polite, respectful and helpful, the lack of experience/training was obvious. I will not take another trip with them and certainly not recommend it to anyone....at half the price it would be decent. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Turn around time for the cruise is only 2 hours and not enough time to get the ship clean in between cruises. WiFi, only available if you stand next to the public router. Staff in the dining room, young and not well-trained. Choose ... Read More
Turn around time for the cruise is only 2 hours and not enough time to get the ship clean in between cruises. WiFi, only available if you stand next to the public router. Staff in the dining room, young and not well-trained. Choose different tables until you find a staff that has experience. Cruise Director and Social Director is very good. We found very nice younger passengers we connected with, and had a very nice time. We gathered in the evenings up on deck. It is quite cold in the evenings and the cruise line does not offer blankets. Food was plentiful and very good. The lounge has coffee and snacks. The snacks are power bars and fruit, coffee is not replenish during the day, espresso machine was broken. The excursion were mixed. Some very good, others not so much. I would travel with this company again, but only on the new ships. This is a very expensive cruise for what you get. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
The food was fairly well done. We have been on a lot of European river cruises and the food was, I think a little better. Not too easy to get ice tea. I don't drink any more so no wine for me. The wine was the same low end brand all ... Read More
The food was fairly well done. We have been on a lot of European river cruises and the food was, I think a little better. Not too easy to get ice tea. I don't drink any more so no wine for me. The wine was the same low end brand all need guts,but o cannot comment on the quality. There seemed to be plenty of it. Captain could not have been more friendly as were the servers and the cabin girls. Good entertainment some nights. The cruise director was not helpful at all. He talked a lot about himself. He thought very highly of himself. I was trying to ask him if he could do something for me, but he was too busy talking about whether his trousers shoul Deb shortened 1" or 1 1/2". They charge you for almost all the activities off the boat. For what we paid for the below deck room and board, I ythink that they should have included more of them. I couldn't get on the lobster trip because they only had room for about 20 or 25 people. There were about 150 people on board, so there were a lot of people that wanted this but were excluded. Kevin the cruise director was a self absorbed narcissistic $&#%€. Look for a better cruise line before you sign up for this one. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Returned from a 6 night New England Island cruise that departed from Providence, RI to celebrate my 60th birthday. We went on a Star Clipper cruise a couple of years ago and realized we really like smaller ships. The Independence has a ... Read More
Returned from a 6 night New England Island cruise that departed from Providence, RI to celebrate my 60th birthday. We went on a Star Clipper cruise a couple of years ago and realized we really like smaller ships. The Independence has a capacity of about 100, though there were about 74 on our cruise. We found the cruise caters to a much older crowd than what we were looking for. Our fellow passengers were all very nice, but the average age seemed to be late 70 to 80s and some older than that. Of the approximately 74 passengers maybe 10 were under 65. The cost for the cruise is at a premium, and probably not worth the price. We had an infinitely better experience on Star Clipper for about the same cost. The biggest complaint we had, which may not be an issue to others, is there is no bar on board. Drinks at lunch and dinner with a happy hour before dinner. We've found in the past that we enjoyed getting to know fellow passengers over drinks. You could get a beer from the dining room afterward, or passengers took the leftover wine from dinner. But we were terribly disappointed at the lack of a bar in what is called "the lounge" on these ships. Arrived a day early to visit with a friend in Providence. Stayed at the Wyndham Garden which is within walking distance of the embarkation point for the ship. Unfortunately the Wyndham Garden is undergoing a major renovation to convert it to to a Hilton, so there was no restaurant on site. They did provide a shuttle if you wanted it. Embarkation on the Independence was effortless: drop off your bags and go to your room. Bag was delivered within minutes. The staterooms are large, though nothing spectacular. We stayed on the third level and had a balcony and a window that slip open. Though on a cruise you tend to stay in your room only to change and sleep. The ship was nice enough. Other reviewers commented on the dated decor, which I didn't notice too much, but my wife did. Fabric on a chair in our room was torn, the sofas in the lounge (more on that later) were like those at Grandmother's house. The crew was terrific from the Captain to the wait staff. The crew was all from the US and the wait staff work very hard both serving meals and cleaning rooms. Meals were generally very good. All meals are open seating at set times, though an early breakfast is available. A little awkward in that you choose your lunch and dinner selections at breakfast. They will prepare something just for you if none of the three (at dinner) selections are to your liking. Entertainment was marginal. Good lectures about upcoming ports of calls, etc. Other entertainment was along the lines of Dean Martin and Andrews Sisters imitators, a very rude sea shanty singer, bingo, etc. Ports and excursions were all at an additional charge, at least until you sail 3 or 4 times with ACL. For some bizarre reason we spent an entire day in New Bedford, MASS, which had little other than an outstanding whaling museum. Contrast that to a short stay in Newport, RI where there were several things to see and do and little time to do them. You could tell that this was the first cruise of the season as there were several hiccups such as proper docks for the ship's shuttle. Also, the ship seemed to dock at locations that weren't accessible to the most interesting parts of the islands. An example is Martha's Vineyard, where you need to take a bus or taxi to Oak Bluffs where restaurants and shops are located. This cruise is NOT recommended for children because they would be bored to tears. Frankly I probably wouldn't recommend it to anyone much younger that 65 or 70. Perhaps I'd recommend this cruise in 20 years but I wouldn't not right now; price too high for what you get and the activity level is way too low. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Saturday to Saturday continuous shall ship cruises during the summer along the villages and yacht harbors along Maine coast north of Portland. Good food and service, free wine at dinner and free cocktails in the lounge before dinner. ... Read More
Saturday to Saturday continuous shall ship cruises during the summer along the villages and yacht harbors along Maine coast north of Portland. Good food and service, free wine at dinner and free cocktails in the lounge before dinner. Single setting, open diner seating and generally good fellowship among passengers. Cabins roomy and comfortable. Overall on-board ship ambiance was good and pleasant; but worth $1000/couple per day for a first deck, non balcony room? You must pay for all shore (guided?) tours at each village by a bus. Tours were short, (about 2 hours) with stops leaving little time for more than make a potty stop. These are not guided tours, just bus stops with a little over the speaker commentary by bus driver. On-board entertainment most nights were usually by one performer, some good and some not. Each lasted only one hour. Two lectures were about the same quality. One free excursion was an on-shore picnic Lobster and Mussel fest which substituted for that night's dinner. If you like lobster and seafood cuisine with fellowship, looking at yachts in harbors and are willing to pay the price, this is for you. If you want to see all these villages as far north at Bar Harbor, take photos, and participate in the culture of the communities at your leisure, take Route One (US 1), and do it for less. We enjoy small ship cruises, river cruises where you get to meet people, have enriching, cultural, photo opportunity on shore, and include tours like many river trips that we have taken in Europe. This did not live up to our expectations. Summary: On-ship was expensive but very good except for entertainment - On-shore - not worth it. - One thing nice about this and other small ship/river cruises - no one inspects your baggage or on shore purchases each time you board the ship. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
I've had the privilege of cruising 39 times on various cruise lines, mainly on the west and east coast of the USA, the Caribbean, Alaska, Mexico, Canada/NewEngland, and Bermuda. Amtrak delivered me to the embarkation port of ... Read More
I've had the privilege of cruising 39 times on various cruise lines, mainly on the west and east coast of the USA, the Caribbean, Alaska, Mexico, Canada/NewEngland, and Bermuda. Amtrak delivered me to the embarkation port of Fernandina Beach, Florida for my cruise. The train ride was fun, and with the comfort of a private bedroom, it was actually luxury as far as today's train service goes. It took a few days, but who cares when one is on vacation! The train stop for Fernandina Beach is Jacksonville, FL, and I had a limo take me from there to Fernandina Beach. I stayed at the Hampton Inn and Suites Amelia Island - Historic Harbor Front, which was extremely comfortable, clean and quiet. The front desk staff there were wonderful in every aspect. I walked through this historic seaport town the day before the cruise, and enjoyed the lovely architecture and friendly people. Walking through the marina was also a delight, as friendly pelicans and other sea birds approach, hoping for a snack from visitors, and the boats moored in the marina are gorgeous. It definitely put me in the mood for a cruise! Great seafood available in town and the marina area. I could walk to the Independence the next morning at my leisure - with wheeled luggage, it's very easy and took me 10 minutes. You can see the cruise boat easily from the hotel. Embarkation was wonderful and fast compared to megaliners. Just appear, and the deck crew at the gangway checks your name off and takes your bag on board, and you walk onto the ship. The Independence looks like a yacht, and being quite new to American Cruise Lines, it was still fresh and very attractive with its white paint. It has three passenger decks and the top of the ship is a flat sun deck. There are several main lounges and a dining room. There is an elevator. Not much in the way of fitness equipment. The lounges have soft, comfortable seating and there are books and DVDs and computer terminals available. The Independence has stabilizers. The decor is very peaceful and calm, with muted natural colors and soft fabrics. My cabin originally was to be a single - American Cruise Lines does offer single-occupancy cabins at a slight lower price than the bigger doubles. I had requested a double bed in mine, which the cruise line has provided on earlier trips, but when I got to the cabin, it had what appeared to be a twin bed. I asked the hotel manager, who was very young, if they could put a double bed in the room, and he was not able to do this. I can't sleep in a twin bed, despite being small - this size bed is just too small for me. Fortunately the ship was not full, and I was given a big double cabin with a private balcony and a king-size bed. So far, so good. There are single cabins available with balconies, and most of the cabins offer the nice private balconies. Again, muted colors and soft fabrics and neutral wood colors in the cabins, which are spacious and have a small closet, plenty of dresser and night stand drawer storage, nice new flat screen TV, chairs, sofa. The windows actually open in these cabins, but don't have screens - beware of the bugs flying in depending on your itinerary. There is AC, but it was heavenly when I could keep the window open at night and have the fresh air and smell the water. The bathroom had a full-size shower stall with curtain, and there were very nice high-end toiletries provided. Towels were OK, but some were a bit ragged. The faucets were polished brass and the sink top appeared to be faux granite but very elegant. There was the usual printed information in the cabin, but nothing in the way of bottled water, flowers, fruit, or anything else. For what the fare rates are, the ship could have done more. No phone in the cabin, and internet access was spotty and slow, except in the lounges most of the time, and then right next to the router. Activities are limited on this ship, basically Bingo on one night, port lectures, and socialization. The average age appears to be above 70. This is an ideal cruise line for those who are "mature" in age and who don't need a lot of physical activity or entertainment. Many passengers know others from prior cruises, and enjoy just sitting and visiting. There is a "free" bar included in the fare, and this social hour was very lively with drinks, snacks, and conversation every night before dinner. Some of the passengers fell asleep after dinner, or slept through the minimal evening entertainment, obviously contented and comfortable enough to do this. This is not a cruise line for people who want a lot of action and late evening entertainment. Dining hours were a bit late for me personally, and were open seating within a set framework three times per day. The menus are handed out the day before, and you chose what you want and portion size. The food was some odd "gourmet" combinations at times, and seemed to focus on a lot of red pepper, odd salads, meat, and poultry. The fish I did have was very good. Deserts are again a bit "gourmet", and ice cream is always available. Again, for the very high fare charged, they could have done better with the food. It wasn't bad food, just a bit peculiar in the way ingredients were combined, and the results were not always good. For those not eating meat or poultry, it is a challenge to get what you need. The chef is very accommodating when it comes to making something special, however, but I mainly had a chef salad two times per day and an awful lot of ice cream. This probably kept me from gaining weight on this cruise, but a lot of people loved it all, ate it all, and were even bigger when they disembarked than is healthy. Good wine available free at lunch and dinner, and other usual beverages. Some of the breakfast buffet items were not hot or cold as they should have been, and there was almost no danish or pastry available. Big round tables in the dining room encourage socialization. Service was pleasant, but could be slow. This is definitely not a child-friendly cruise line, as there is nothing to entertain kids, and they would be bored very quickly. This is not cashless cruising, but things are signed up for and charged to the room - no actual money is handed out. Tips can be charged to the room account and/or credit card. Entertainment was minimal in the evenings. There was an on-board port expert who gave some lengthy but good lectures after dinner, but a lot of people fell asleep during his talks. He also spoke during the daytime if there was an opportunity, and was available for questions. In a few ports, local entertainers came aboard with local music and folk type entertainment, and they were very good. There was a Bingo night, which I overheard somebody comment that this cruise was a floating nursing home. At least the Bingo kept us all awake. People enjoyed reading and talking, and that was about it for entertainment, as well as using personal or onboard computers. Ice cream floats were served about 45 minutes after dinner ended, during the evening entertainment, which most people consumed on top of their dinners. The ports visited on this cruise were Brunswick, GA, Sapelo Island, GA, Savannah, GA, Hilton Head, SC, Beaufort, SC, Charleston, SC. There were good shore excursions offered for each port - sign-up sheet is posted on the ship bulletin board near the dining room for tours. Cost is about what any cruise ship would charge. I really enjoyed a tour on a working shrimp boat on a quiet waterway, and the crew taught about the sea life in the southern waterways as well as letting people get their hands on what came up in each net - also available were fresh-cooked shrimp, right on board, and they were delicious. I also enjoyed a tour of the Gullah region in South Carolina, with a wonderful guide who really got into the spirit of the area. I took the tour of the alligator and wild life preserve on Hilton Head Island, SC - the quiet electric small boat takes visitors within feet of the alligators, turtles, and other wildlife there. I had walking maps of Savannah, Beaufort, and Charleston, and enjoyed going at my own pace and seeing what interested me on foot. Well worth it for the gorgeous historical Southern architecture, but be prepared for heat and humidity. Walking through Brunswick, GA on Easter morning was very nice, with local people in their holiday outfits. All the churches were open, and had welcome committees out front - I really felt welcome and it was a great way to start the cruise with the warm Southern hospitality. I'm not a big fan of organized long bus tours on cruises, and enjoyed walking on my own the most. Service on the ship was mixed. The young American crew are from all over the country, and enjoy visiting with passengers when their time and duties permit. There is always somebody on watch at the gangway 24/7. I remember the captain and first mate from previous trips, and they are very professional and pleasant. Be aware that some of the crew does double duty, both as cabin stewards and dining room stewards. They are busy all the time, and the service suffers a bit from this. Most of the dining room service I had was very good, but it could be slow at times. The cabin was not always done properly, and some things had to be cleaned again. I wondered if the bed linens were changed more than once, as well, but the towels and bath supplies were kept stocked properly. Things were satisfactory in the cabin, but the young lady cleaning it appeared very rushed, as indeed she was - she had to do cabin service and then rush to change to work in the dining room. I wasn't impressed at all with either the cruise director or the hotel manager. Both seem to go through the motions of their jobs, but they were too young to really understand the much older passenger majority. This has been the case with other crews I've had on prior ACL cruises. There is one lady who takes care of the dining service, and she is a real pro, very glad to see her aboard after sailing with her before. There is no doctor or medical center on this small boat but as it is close to shore and the Coast Guard or other emergency services, help can be summoned in an emergency. Someone on board is reputedly first-aid trained. Disembarkation is as easy as embarkation. Breakfast is served, and people need to be off the ship by a decent hour in the morning. Transportation can be arranged, either to airports, train stations, or by taxi, as needed. It was quick and simple. The cruise line sends a survey by email, but to date I've never received a reply to my very detailed and often letter-supplemented comments, suggestions, or issues. On my cruise, I took care of several injured elderly passengers and never got a word of thanks from the cruise line. The fares charged for the cruises are grossly too expensive for the quality of the food and the lack of on-board amenities. The itineraries are excellent, however, as many of the ports visited can only be reached by small boat for maximum accessibility and enjoyment. The Independence is one of the few boats equipped with stabilizers, but on the one occasion we should have used them, we were told they were "broken". These small boats appear to be miniature cruise ships, but for those with motion sickness problems, be prepared - out in the open ocean, or in moderate sea conditions, they can pitch and roll very impressively and make you miserable very quickly, especially without stabilization. On the inland waterways and rivers, however, the boat glides along and is extremely comfortable and stable. I would not take this cruise line again unless they sharply reduced their fares - they are really over-priced for what they deliver. Their itineraries, however, are excellent. Passengers tend to be in their 70s on average, and appear very well-to-do financially. Some take back to back cruises on this line, and stay on the small boats for months. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Independence Ratings
Category Editor Member

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