First time ever on a small-ship cruise as well as one just in the U.S. Price included being put up at a nice hotel pre-night with breakfast the next morning, transportation from hotel to ship and from ship to airport after the cruise ended. Never been part of an embarkation or debarkation so seamless. Greeted by staff and crew with friendly smiles from the get-go, which were genuine and did not diminish over the course of the cruise. Ship was gorgeous and spotless the entire time, cabins and balcony very spacious, with nice size bathroom and all amenities you could want. All-balcony cabins and a couple of big suites, and they have a couple of single balcony cabins, which is great. The public areas are lovely and inviting. Regionally inspired cuisine, with other choices if you weren't a fan, and the food was excellent. Beer and wine with lunch and dinner, happy hour every night, and wait staff were super great, as were the rest of the crew and officers onboard. The all-American crew that work on this ship, as I suspect on others of the fleet, work their butts off, and many of them serve one or more roles. They aim to please, and take the time to engage with those onboard. Special shout-outs to Alexis and West in the dining room, whose tables we got to sit at most of the time, Rick and Big Mike and Brittani were lovely when we got to sit where they were, but observing other tables, the wait staff always seemed to take time to engage with the people at their tables and from what we could see, gave great service.
Bill and Laura were wonderful, and we'll plan future cruises around when they'll be onboard. A great team, they're as nice as could be, providing entertainment during happy hour and many evenings, and Bill's talks truly brought history alive and provided an invaluable perspective and foundation for some of the places visited during tours. We could have sat and listened to him endlessly, a sentiment echoed by everyone we talked to. If he'd been our history teacher, many of us would have become history majors and/or teachers. It added tremendously to the whole experience - can't say enough about Bill and Laura. Other notable entertainment - Judy Davis, storyteller and comedian, was superb, and great jazz musicians one night. Did not miss the "fancy floor shows" of big-ship cruises one bit.
The crew was great, as were the housekeeping staff, security people, and everyone who worked onboard and who we came in contact with. Very friendly and genuine.
Had never been to New Orleans, and even though we only spent the one morning exploring before boarding the ship, we want to go back and see more. Heads up on the itinerary - this route is a must-do for Civil War and American history buffs and highlights highlights the importance of the Mississippi in history, industry and trade, then and now, but it's not the prettiest part of the river and you pass a lot of industrial complexes, oil refineries and who knows what else, sometimes overwhelmingly so, along the parts of the route. Do not expect bucolic river scenes a la Huckleberry Finn - if you're used to or were expecting a less developed environment or were picturing endless stretches of pristine river banks, you may be disappointed. Despite that, there were some spectacular sunsets (and likely sunrises, had the weather cooperated), a surprising number of different birds including pelicans, cormorants, egrets, ducks and more, and it was beyond cool sailing under the many bridges and seeing the constant marine traffic along the way. Must be a great place to be a tugboat captain. If you're a photographer, there are a lot of different things to make you happy and we got some great shots.
American Cruise Lines caters to mature adults, and there is a lot of accommodation for those that may not be as mobile as they used to be or who have some physical limitations, but who want to get out there and experience things. Golf carts were always available to assist in getting people from ship to the tour bus if where we docked was too hard for people in wheelchairs, or who needed other assistance walking.
Some people expressed frustration with the internet connection, which was spotty and didn't seem related to whether you were in a less or more developed area along the route. Personally I wasn't bothered because cell phone service and texting worked fine when we needed to be in touch, maybe it's deliberate because the cruise line is trying to encourage people to unplug, get off their damn devices and just experience the trip, but they may need to up the bandwidth or boosters or whatever, especially if they're trying to broaden the clientele to include a broader demographic and/or people who may still be working or just feel the compulsion to stay in touch more.
Overall, we think American Cruise Lines knows what they're doing. They know their market, they have a solid product, and I totally get it why they have such a high repeat clientele. It was a fantastic vacation, and we hope to go on a future cruise with them again.
Beautifully appointed stateroom - seemed more like a hotel room size than typical ship stateroom size, and very large balcony. Closet, desk with many drawers for additional storage, bureau for additional storage, good sized bathroom with good sized vanity and large shower, nice bath amenities, magnifying mirror and hair dryer. Beds super comfortable, with premium linens and duvet. Spotlessly clean always. Two chairs and a table on the good-sized balcony. Loved it.