My wife and I were on your Jazz and Blues Themed Cruise (May 11 - 18, 2019) on the America that went from New Orleans to Memphis. Unfortunately, this lower Mississippi River cruise was anything but the music-themed cruise that had been marketed.
Here is a description of what this cruise was supposed to be from the ACL website:
“Delight in the sounds of Jazz and Blues that fill the air as we cruise the Mississippi River and pay tribute to the musicians and the regions that helped influence American music. On this theme cruise, enjoy special onboard performances, guided shore excursions to influential destinations, and exclusive behind-the-scenes tours. Learn about the importance of New Orleans to the birth of Jazz and how Memphis played an instrumental role in the foundation and popularity of Rock n’ roll.”
The following is a review of how each major point was handled on our cruise.
Special Onboard Performances
The performers on this cruise barely played music that even fell into the jazz and blues genres. The bands at embarkation and on the last night played in a style akin to Muzak. Nothing about their performances was "special" and they were a poor representation of the musical stylings of both New Orleans and Memphis.
Dan Knowles is a great banjo player and performer. However, Dan Knowles doesn't play jazz or blues. Dan plays old-timey, traditional American folk music.
Steve and Joanne were great resources to have on this trip. Their discussions about the River and the towns along it were extremely informative and helpful as we visited each port. While Joanne is a wonderful pianist, their performances of American Standards and Broadway show tunes barely touched jazz and blues.
Guided Shore Excursions to Influential Destinations
There were none. This omission was especially egregious in New Orleans and Memphis, two cities that have numerous excursion opportunities that highlight jazz and blues. Fortunately, my wife and I created our own music excursion in Memphis. We Ubered from the ship to Sun Studio for a tour. We then took the free Sun Studio shuttle to the Rock 'n Soul Museum for a tour. We followed that up with a short, leisurely walk to Beale Street where we saw live blues and soul music for free. None of the activities on our made-up music excursion were recommended or even mentioned in the ACL Things-to-do-in-Memphis preview sheet.
Exclusive Behind-The-Scenes Tours
There were none. In a previous email to ACL, I asked what differentiated this jazz and blues cruise from other lower Mississippi River cruises. The ACL answer was a vague reference to onboard entertainment. As I've explained above, American Cruise Lines missed the mark on that one completely. This cruise advertised one thing and delivered another.
We contacted American Cruise Lines (Hotel Director; Executive Sales Director; Marketing Director) about our disappointing experience. It took a second email to receive a canned response. More disappointment for a luxury $11K, supposedly jazz and blues themed music cruise.
Despite the lack of anticipated jazz and blues onboard entertainment and related excursions, the staff was great and the food was excellent. With the right improvements, we would still consider American Cruise Lines for a future river cruise.
Accordian shower doors leave the shower dark and look like the institutional decor of the 1960's. This seems strange because the ship was built in 2016.