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897 U.S.A. Cruise Reviews

We recently cruised on the American Duchess during the March 9th sailing. The schedule had multiple changes from the ports we were originally scheduled to visit. Though we were disappointed about the changes, the staff were very ... Read More
We recently cruised on the American Duchess during the March 9th sailing. The schedule had multiple changes from the ports we were originally scheduled to visit. Though we were disappointed about the changes, the staff were very professional and the shore excursions person on board worked very hard to make sure our land experience was still top notch. Tours were well organized, and we really enjoyed the Hop on Hop Off concept. Great idea! Having the same drivers meet us in each port was wonderful. We got to know them and really enjoyed the consistency. We also happened to be onboard when the news was escalating about COVID-19. They were well prepared and took all necessary precautions to ensure passengers were safe. It could easily be seen that this company goes above and beyond. They have the best interest of their guests at heart ensuring we were taken care whether it be at mealtime, show time, or just in their daily interactions. The Captain personally spoke to us and others on the bus as we departed the ship. What a nice touch! We were very impressed with the everyone’s efforts and look forward to our next voyage on the American Countess in the fall. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
We were looking for a trip in the US and this one on the Intracoastal Waterway was a good deal compared to the same trip on the same boat with Road Scholar. Based on reviews on this site we weren't sure what condition the boat would ... Read More
We were looking for a trip in the US and this one on the Intracoastal Waterway was a good deal compared to the same trip on the same boat with Road Scholar. Based on reviews on this site we weren't sure what condition the boat would be in. The boat had new carpeting and paint and was in good shape. The stateroom was good sized and comfortable. Our only issue was that the shower wasn't working for the first couple of days. A chat with the hotel manager took care of that. The food was excellent and plentiful. We liked the option for getting half servings. All alcohol is included, which isn't always a good thing. The shore excursions were pretty good. The local guides were entertaining. When we signed up for this cruise we thought that the shore excursions were included given the higher price of the cruise, but they weren't. The staff were friendly and helpful. There were a few hiccups due to this cruise being the first of the season. The only issue that we had with the trip was boat security. Granted this was a small ship cruise but there weren't any ID checks when passengers returned to the boat. We're used to tours where the leader makes obvious counts at the beginning and end of the excursion. We never noticed that happening with this company. The age group of the passengers was 60+. The tours and activities were geared to that age group. We would travel with them again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
I chose this cruise because it had always been a dream of mine to cruise the Mississippi on a sternwheeler. I made it specific to my on-line discount travel clearinghouse that it had always been my dream. Firstly, American Queen failed to ... Read More
I chose this cruise because it had always been a dream of mine to cruise the Mississippi on a sternwheeler. I made it specific to my on-line discount travel clearinghouse that it had always been my dream. Firstly, American Queen failed to disclose the condition of the ship even though they had advance notice that the sternwheel had fallen off on a previous itinerary. This notice had been shared with other cruisers, but not all of us. We were not the only travelers disappointed by this lack of notice as we would have absolutely NOT booked this trip. We were planning a 30 day itinerary and would have made other arrangements. The Peabody stay, staff, and on boarding crew from American Queen were top notch, and I am grateful for their assistance when we were pickpocketed shortly after check-in. A shout-out to Peabody security for their efforts. Secondly, there is a toxic culture on board toward the elderly (the very demographic they depend upon for their survival). Portions are pathetic, plating is nonexistent, employees are surly (yes, you the so-called “Riverlorian”), and tours are driven by lead-footed drivers who speak to complainers as though they are driving prisoners to the penitentiary (yes, YOU, Patty). When the guides respond to complaints about the attractions whizzing past, the response is, “They drivers have a schedule to maintain...” well, not if they have no tour attendees! The most expensive tour (Memphis/Graceland) was led by a “guide” who mis-quoted references from The Firm (perhaps Memphis’ most famous movie to date), shooting from the hip... each tour we took (even the free ones) were peppered with answers like, “Oh, I don’t know, I’m sure you can Google it...”. The St. Francisville tour guide had such a debilitating speech impediment (and I lived in Louisiana, so I know the difference between an impediment and an “Accent”) that he could not pronounce any S’s. Considering the ages of the people trapped on those buses, someone who speaks clearly would have been a consideration (if they had any respect for the older people in the first place... which they don’t). This vessel was going into dry-dock upon arriving in NOLA and every employee on board was miserably awaiting their debarkation. In fact, according to the only driver who exhibited ANY concern for his passengers (yes, you, Randy), all the deckhands abandoned their posts and we had to return to the dock and schlep our own luggage to the buses. A couple got off the ship and depended on a non-employee’s direction and was sent the opposite way, got lost, and had to pay a $20 taxi ride to get back to those of us waiting on the bus for the NOLA tour. THe female member of the couple was health compromised, so she gasped and moaned for the first 15 minutes of the tour until she at least partially recovered (apologies to the Null party, since I’m sure you’ll get nothing from AQSC. The saving grace on this trip was the hospitality staff (housekeeping even had to be begged to remove the dirty glasswear piling up in the room on day 4). The main dining room servers were wonderful (even though the meager portions and complete lack of plating was dismal. The buffets on the other floors were horrid and those attending to those buffets routinely ignored patron’s requests. Bryan, the bartender on loan from the American Queen raised the standard for the others (really, should we have had to beg the other bartenders to turn around and hand us our “welcome glass of champagne” after staring at their backsides for way too long the moment we arrived?!?). When I said, “Excuse me... could we have our glass of champagne?” It was with raised eyebrows that these two ladies deigned to had us a drink. They later began behaving appropriately, but it set the tone that was a consistent disappointment from beginning to end. The next time I want to visit with Bryan (which we would) it will not be on the ships but from an RV en route. Never have I had a worse experience in travel and I sailed through El Niño in ‘94 off the coast of CA. Very Truly Pissed in Manchester, WA Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We wanted to cruise over the holidays. and didn't want to fly. We live within a two-hour drive of Baltimore, and read good reviews of American Cruise Lines and its 2018-built ship Constitution. We had been to every port on the ... Read More
We wanted to cruise over the holidays. and didn't want to fly. We live within a two-hour drive of Baltimore, and read good reviews of American Cruise Lines and its 2018-built ship Constitution. We had been to every port on the itinerary, some multiple times, so thought it would be relaxing. Food ranged from fair to very good. Some of the best entrees were the lobster mac and cheese for lunch, and pot roast at dinner. Steaks were pretty good. Christmas buffet, the only buffet, thankfully, was mediocre. Lots of choices, but the roast turkey was a processed salty turkey roll, and the roast prime rib was tough. The side dishes and desserts were excellent. The young staff went out of its way to please. The wait staff was friendly and efficient. We got to know them all. Complimentary cocktails were served every evening at 5:30, along with hors d'oeuvre. Brand names were used - Makers Mark, Tanqueray, Beefeater, etc. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We choose this cruise #1 because it sailed Christmas week. This was our 8th cruise on American Cruise Lines (ACL). The Harmony was launched in 2019. It had many lounges small and large to use. The ship was decorated beautifully for ... Read More
We choose this cruise #1 because it sailed Christmas week. This was our 8th cruise on American Cruise Lines (ACL). The Harmony was launched in 2019. It had many lounges small and large to use. The ship was decorated beautifully for Christmas. The management team was great, always accommodating and always smiling. Courtney was our cruise director and she was always smiling no matter the time of day . . . and they put in long hours. She had events going all the time . . . decorating gingerbread houses, making holiday cards, ugly sweater contest, White Elephant gift exchange, etc, etc. ACL gave all passengers lovely gifts throughout the week and brought "sweet treats" to our stateroom every day. Many shore excursion choices. Entertainment was excellent! Food choices were abundant and yummy. Happy hour every night with appetizers before dinner. It was a fun-filled way to spend Christmas. 194 passengers maximum. These ships are built in the USA with an all American crew and mature passengers 50 and up. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Over the recent Christmas holiday, we had the privilege of cruising on the Grand American Queen Steamboat. We cannot say enough about how much we enjoyed the experience. The staff and crew went out of their way to provide an absolutely ... Read More
Over the recent Christmas holiday, we had the privilege of cruising on the Grand American Queen Steamboat. We cannot say enough about how much we enjoyed the experience. The staff and crew went out of their way to provide an absolutely wonderful experience. There was some minor improvements necessary in some areas, but what holiday would be complete if everything was perfect. Ship – They call them boats on the river. We decided on an authentic paddlewheel boat as compared to some other more “modern looking” riverboats that seem to be copying the design of some European riverboats that we have sailed upon. The boat was of grand stature. The woodwork and the antiques aboard make it a floating museum. All was in good maintenance and the rooms were of good size. Some of the furniture has that Victorian era feel to it. We liked it, although the carpets in the rooms could have been a bit brighter. The wrap around veranda was so much more enjoyable than the individual private balconies we have experienced on ocean liners. We are a bit social and enjoyed finding out where people came from and their backstories. Food - The food was well done. Probably on the level of ocean liners. Service was not robotic like we get on big cruise ships, but rather very social and kind by an All-American crew. It was nice to support their jobs. They seemed to appreciate our conversation with them. The only problem is that the early seating is too early and the later seating is too late. I can’t believe they could not tighten up their service times. Entertainment - Comparable or better than most other ships. It blows the European River cruise entertainment out of the water. It was very energetic with excellent live musicians and wonderful singers. They even performed at a Christmas Gala at Nottoway Plantation off the boat one night. It was real treat. More on that later. Shore Excursions – By far this was the best part of the cruise. We took the cruise because of the area of the river and because they were offering Christmas markets. The Hop On – Hop Off Included Tour is the best system we have seen in our over 40 cruises. The organization that runs these buses and guides need to be acknowledged. They included admissions to just about EVERY attraction in the towns. The buses, (they call them River Coaches) came to each stop every 15 minutes (30 minutes in the afternoon when most guests were enjoying the other tours or taking a nap) and delivered us safely and with great narration by local guides. We were highly impressed. They also offered optional tours (Premium Excursions) that were spot on with descriptions and provided very unique experiences that we could not have booked on our own. We even went inside of a maximum security prison and had a one on one talk with an inmate serving a life sentence. VERY powerful. Christmas Markets - The cruise line provided local craftspeople at “Plantation Markets”. We had been on a European Christmas markets cruise previously and had an idea of what we might expect. We were wrong. These markets were much more personal, with locally sourced American products, and provided a great experience. It was an Americanized version of a European tradition. It was extremely well done and we met the young lady who arranged it for the cruise line. She was lovely and was working very hard and hands on to make certain we were all pleased with the shopping. Overall, we would highly recommend this cruise lines. We heard some confusion over the names of the companies providing cruises on the Mississippi. Both have American in their name, but this “Queen” lived up to her royal stature. We plan on now heading to the Upper Mississippi next with a cruise from Red Wing to St. Louis. We might try one of their other boats. Seems they are newer and have some other amenities. They do offer the Ohio and Tennessee river cruises, but they really don’t excite us. We want to see some fall foliage from the river side next! Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
I was very excited to take a trip with the American Duchess as I have been on other river cruises in the past, but mostly in Europe or other parts of the world. I knew this cruise would be different being in America, but I pleasantly ... Read More
I was very excited to take a trip with the American Duchess as I have been on other river cruises in the past, but mostly in Europe or other parts of the world. I knew this cruise would be different being in America, but I pleasantly surprised with all there was to see and do in this part of the country. We started in Memphis and ended up in Nashville, TN. On board my guest cabin was very typical of a standard hotel room, clean and nice. All of the common spaces were comfortable, although times I felt like I was the only one on the boat, even as the boat was full. The entertainment at night was great and they did their best to incorporate the Christmas theme. They were a great group of kids. What surprised me most was the amount of tours that were actually included with the cruise. I'm so used to being nickel and dimed to see every tourist destination around the world, that this was a lovely chance of pace. I actually wanted to get off and explore every day. They have what's called a 'hop on and off' tour, which sounded confusing but I got the hang of the first day. You 'hop' on a large bus (which were all very nice) and have a tour guide tell you about each town you're in. You can 'hop' off at museums, shopping areas, art galleries, etc...where they all had included admission with your cruise ticket. I got to see a lot this way, more than I would have otherwise. The buses are clearly decorated with the cruise line's name and logo so you always know what bus to get on too, which was comforting. Now you can buy what they call "Premium Excursions." At first I thought I didn't need any of them because of the hop on tour, but let me tell you for a relatively small price I had one of the highlights of my trip with the 'Chitlin' Trail' excursion in Paducah, KY. This was something special. They take a small group into a hotel which was once a safe haven for African American musicians and you feel like you're back in 1950. The guides were in character and sang so well I really thought it was really was Billie Holiday. That was really worth it and I highly recommend it. We had a few days in Nashville which I was excited to see. The Grand Ole Opry Show was an included tour on this trip and wow, it was a bucket list item for me. I'm not even a country music fan but that was a good show. I enjoyed learning about Elvis and Dolly Parton too while on the city tour there. And the tour specialist on board helped me find some great BBQ downtown to try out. When it was time to leave they took me directly to the airport. They really were organized and getting off the boat was as smooth as the whole trip (I guess I didn't need my sea sickness patches after all) I'm planning to bring a friend with me next time to try a different segment of the river. She didn't think there was much to see in the middle of America, but after telling her about my trip she can't wait to go with me. She doesn't like to travel overseas either so this will be a good trip for her. I'll be back American Duchess! Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
This was our 9th cruise with American Cruise Lines so we are obviously satisfied with their overall performance. There have been some cruises where they failed to live up to their motto: "Small ship cruising done perfectly". That ... Read More
This was our 9th cruise with American Cruise Lines so we are obviously satisfied with their overall performance. There have been some cruises where they failed to live up to their motto: "Small ship cruising done perfectly". That is a very high standard that they have set for themselves and they have, on occasion, failed to meet it. Their Customer Service team has been slow to address our comments on these occasions. This cruise on the American Star, which we have been on several time before, was up to our expectations. The ship interior looked to be in good shape but the exterior was in need of some work. Immediately after our cruise, the ship went to dry dock for some needed work. The management on board was excellent. Our Hotel Manager, Michelle, and our Cruise Director, Annisse, could not have been more professional and customer oriented. They were everything that professional cruise management should be. They entertained us throughout the trip and immediately took care of a major problem that we had with booking our next trip, which will be out tenth cruise with ACL. They were always friendly and concerned about their customers and were anxious to be helpful in any way they could. Can't praise them highly enough. The wait staff and the household staff were helpful and cheerful and seemed to be genuinely interested in our well being. They took good care of us in a professional and cheerful manner, which we have come to expect from the wait and housecleaning staffs. They went out of their way to accommodate any requests that we might have had. For example, one evening, I wanted s specific brand of wine which I had had the previous evening. Our waitress, Jocelyn, said they no longer had that brand in stock so she brought me a glass of their top of the line wine instead. My only disappointment for this trip was that the brochure said that we would visit Lake George and spend a day there observing the on-shore wildlife. We expected it to be a carefree and relaxing day and we were looking forward to observing any wildlife in the state park on the shore of Lake George, but we did not go to Lake George. We were told, by two different people, that the St Johns River had silted up and that there was nothing to do there. This destination continues to be printed in their brochures and we were not notified beforehand of the change. One of the reasons we take river cruises is to enjoy the passing scenery and relax. We do not have to be kept busy every single second. Some of our best cruises on this line have been when we were able to sit topside on the top deck while cruising the river and enjoy the passing scenery on shore. We have already booked our next trip with ACL which will be our tenth. We have signed up for a Chesapeake Bay cruise on one of their newer cruise boats. This will be our first trip on one of the newer boats and we are looking forward to it. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Love American Cruise Lines and their small ships. We got to know all the passengers and most of the crew. The embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly. The activities director and the historian were excellent. The excursions were ... Read More
Love American Cruise Lines and their small ships. We got to know all the passengers and most of the crew. The embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly. The activities director and the historian were excellent. The excursions were well planned and organized. So much planned, you had to choose which activity to go to. One day my husband went to one and I to another. We then shared our experiences at dinner. We enjoyed the holiday themed activities. The food was tasty and the dining room staff accommodated our requests outside the planned menu. I requested a hand- held shower in our bath. It was added within 24 hours with an apology for taking so long! My husband forgot our charging cord to our Apple computer on the ship. He called the director of housekeeping ( the number was listed on the daily news letters) requesting it be mailed. It arrived within a week! The only negative was the weather. It rained for most of our trip. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We traveled on the American Duchess during Christmas time on a Nashville to Memphis Cruise. It was absolutely beautiful. The boat and some of the towns were decorated for the holidays truly making it a unique experience. The time we spent ... Read More
We traveled on the American Duchess during Christmas time on a Nashville to Memphis Cruise. It was absolutely beautiful. The boat and some of the towns were decorated for the holidays truly making it a unique experience. The time we spent onboard was phenomenal, all the staff is friendly and genuinely cared about making sure we were having a great time. The pursers were available to answer all of our questions, and our shore excursions specialist was great in helping us decide which tours were best suited for us. The food was amazing and the boat offered a great variety of dining options that well suited my picky eating habits. All of the small river towns were so charming and the included tours offered made us feel like we were getting way more than we paid for. The bus drivers stayed with us the whole week and were so friendly. They went above and beyond to provide assistance to make sure we were having an effortlessly fun time in each port. I’m a bit of an adventurer and believe you should experience as much as you can with the time that you have, so we went out on all the included tours and even purchased the premium tour options in some of the ports that we knew we couldn’t pass up. The most memorable port for me that we visited was Paducah, Kentucky. I never heard of it before until we booked the itinerary for this voyage, but that small town is something I’ll never forget! From the second the boat pulled into port, townspeople were there to greet us with big smiles! As we got off the boat they all waved and greeted us and wished us a happy stay in Paducah. The local tour guides were knowledgeable and energetic and made me fall in love with the town. This was one of the ports we purchased the premium excursion in, and it did not disappoint! They took us to the Hotel Metropolitan where we were greeted by the owner. She took us through the whole history of the hotel mentioning all the great musicians who had come through to stay there with special and unexpected surprises thrown in. The host was funny and hospitable and made us feel like we were reliving a time when the Hotel Met was at its peak. It was an unforgettable experience, and we even got some delicious pie at the end! As we departed Paducah for the next port on our itinerary, the townspeople that were there to greet us were also there to wave goodbye as we sailed away. It was extremely charming and made me feel like a special guest in their hometown. That’s how it felt the entire trip. You can tell all the people in these towns are proud of where they’re from and want to show off the great unique qualities each one has to offer. The American Queen Steamboat Company did a great job with their shore excursions that showcased and highlighted the best qualities of each town and made you feel that even though we only got a short time in each port, we left with memories we could take with us and experiences that were truly priceless. Do yourselves a favor and book a trip – go to these towns you’ve never heard of and do as much a you can while there! You won’t regret it! Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We had cruised once before with American Cruise Lines and enjoyed it very much. This cruise was even better. The Constitution was only a year in services as opposed to the Queen of the West and it was all clean and sparkly. The food was ... Read More
We had cruised once before with American Cruise Lines and enjoyed it very much. This cruise was even better. The Constitution was only a year in services as opposed to the Queen of the West and it was all clean and sparkly. The food was delicious and varied with emphasis on seafood available fresh from the Bay, it seemed. The wait staff in the dining room were warm, welcoming, and efficient. The excursions were very informative though one was overlong. Our historians gave informative talks along the way. I learned so much about our American history. My one complaint was that sometimes the talks over lapped the excursions and I had to miss talks I would have appreciated seeing. Perhaps they could have recorded the talks and made them available via our TV's to watch as we were able to. The room was lovely and I didn't feel cramped. It was definitely a cruise experience with primarily older folks but older folks with a lot of travel experience who are very loyal to American Cruise Lines. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
This was our second American Cruise Line experience, after loving our first cruise. But this time was definitely not as good. The ship was lovely and our cabin very comfortable. It was the uniformed officers, or managers, on the ship that ... Read More
This was our second American Cruise Line experience, after loving our first cruise. But this time was definitely not as good. The ship was lovely and our cabin very comfortable. It was the uniformed officers, or managers, on the ship that were the issue. They did not know the itinerary very well and did not properly answer questions. They alway had their heads in their phones. There were many issues with the kitchen from very slow service that caused us to be late for excursions to running out of many things. How do you forget to chill the wine then think it's OK to serve it on ice? Really? The wait staff and housekeeping were excellent - they really worked hard to try to make everything right to the best of their ability. In one port the tide was so low that it was extremely difficult to exit the tender and this company cater to an older crowd. They should have known to bring an extra set of steps to make this better. They have offered us a 20% discount if we book our next cruise by March, but after spending $15,000 on this past experience, I'm not sure I'm willing to try again. These are NOT budget cruises, therefore expectations are high and were definitely not met. There were many repeat travelers on this cruise and they were equally disappointed. It got to the point where at every meal the conversation was about what went wrong that day. That gets old real fast. This is a new relatively new ship. The sounds system for the entertainment was frustrating the speakers/entertainers as well as the audience. Aside from the Kenny and Kat, the entertainment was poor, especially compared to our first cruise where the entertainment was excellent! The dining room wait staff was great. Even with the many kitchen problems (slow, wrong order) they remained cheerful and accommodating. We had a very nice trip - it just was not "Small Ship Cruising Done Perfectly" as advertised and as the price would suggest. It was just "done OK". I will be shopping around before we book another cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Being seasoned cruisers on ocean sailing lines, we were interested to try out the American Cruise Line's style of cruising the inland waterway enabling us to visit seaside towns that we'd never otherwise see on a big ship. ACL ... Read More
Being seasoned cruisers on ocean sailing lines, we were interested to try out the American Cruise Line's style of cruising the inland waterway enabling us to visit seaside towns that we'd never otherwise see on a big ship. ACL charged a much higher price but offered a lot less for the money. We already were prepared for a smaller ship with less amenities but found it even more lacking in service, activities on board, and shore tours. Yes, we're used to crew from all over the world, many from countries where they rely on tips from good service to feed their families but it was downright disappointing in how lacking this all American crew was. There were a few exceptions like deckhand Sean and waiter Kevin but for the most part it was seriously lacking. There were several meals where I'd get something other than what I ordered and/or something as routine as chocolate ice cream or bagels was out of stock. Routinely we'd have slow dining service to the point that ice cream ordered for dessert sat on a tray melting into soup while our waitress chatted. I was on this cruise with someone who'd previously sailed on ACL but when he tried to request the referral credit for use on this sailing, they couldn't figure out how to apply it. Their first solution was to give it as a credit toward another sailing but that was unacceptable since there was no way of guaranteeing we'd want to come back for another sailing. It took reaching out to a supervisor who learned that their first offer was because the computer had closed out our reservation having paid in full and no one knew how to get back in to apply the credit. We happily accepted the supervisor's offer of comping the referrer's tours for this voyage instead. First leg of the cruise, we get a bill for not only both of our tours but also for ones we never took! The hotel director cleared the charges once we showed the supervisor's confirmation. Second leg of the cruise, we get a bill for both our tours again and joined a line half the ship long only to show the hotel director the same confirmation. She cleared the new charges after that as well. Several activities on board were either scheduled and never happened or scheduled for times when passengers were off on tours. Other days, the tours were the only thing scheduled for the bulk of the day. Yes, this was the cruise director's first time handling this itinerary but she was majorly misinformed about the ports we were visiting. Rather than tell a passenger that she'd look into the answer to their question, she'd tell them an answer only to say the opposite later on. There were days we'd be told there's no shuttle for those just wanting to head into town on our own. Then hours later she's announcing that the shuttle will be departing in 20 minutes. Upon arrival at one port, the local tour guides and our cruise director were telling us about all these places to check out on our tour. Come to find out during our tour that half of the places promised to visit are closed because they are always closed on Mondays. It'd be one thing if it was simply bad timing because the places were closed due to construction or repair but to be suggesting something every other local we talked to knew was closed on the day we'd be in port? Yorktown - visited Williamsburg on a ship tour. Nice tour with guided building visits and then free time to explore on our own. Norfolk - Naval Station & MacArthur Memorial. Was a group of 10 but our local guide was used to a group of 40 so every step we were rushed only to have a ton of time left at the end with nothing to do but return early to the ship. MacArthur Memorial was closed because it was Monday so a church was substituted. We listened to a local parishioner talk about the church's history and our guide made him talk even longer than he'd planned because we had extra time to fill. The Nautilus Center the cruise director and the local guides hyped up visiting when we returned to the ship was also closed on Mondays. People from the area I talked to later said right off the bat "oh too bad you were in Norfolk today. The Nautilus Center is a great place but it's always closed on Mondays." Hey ACL, you should have known that and not offered such a tour on ships that dock there on Mondays. Kitty Hawk - Interesting visit to the Wright Brothers Museum/Memorial. A little mix up in that our guide walked us around and gave a brief history before letting us explore on our own until the ranger talk that was to give more history. Time for ranger talk kept getting pushed back until we were told by our guide that we'd have to leave right after the ranger's talk. Ranger came out and talked about staying on the marked path in the grassy areas to avoid bugs and a lecture on staying safe in riptides and that was it. Heard from other passengers who'd visited here before that there's normally a lot more to the ranger's talk. Our guide reacted well and gathered us up for a bus ride up to the plane memorial on the hill since we'd already walked around the outdoor exhibits the ranger led everyone else to after her talk. Beaufort, N.C. - Had booked a city tour on a double decker bus for the afternoon but after taking a shuttle into town in the morning (the one that wasn't going to be supposedly) and riding that shuttle back with a full van of passengers who'd bailed on the morning city tour complaining about the lack of things to see, we cancelled. Wilmington - Booked what we misunderstood to be a hop on/hop off trolley but it turned out to just be a shuttle into the center of town. Tried to board a true HOHO trolley we saw advertised while in town after looking up their times to stop at this intersection finding that it was about 15 minutes from our arrival. Their posted arrival time came and went so after 45 minutes of waiting after that to see if they'd show, we tried walking around the shops in town. Returned to the meeting spot to pick up the shuttle trolley and his promised return every 15 minutes was another 45 minutes of waiting. Charleston, SC - Overnight stay and also the port where those only doing the second leg boarded. First day we took the ship excursion to visit Fort Sumter. Lucky to have ended up with the nice shuttle driver because dinner mates in the next shuttle told us they feared for their safety given how he peeled off despite being told to wait and follow our driver. Then proceeded to drive erratically and dangerously to the Fort. Our guide at the Fort told us that she was going to get the ferry tickets and to wait for her by the stairs. We got worried when the ferry started boarding and she hadn't returned to the stairs so we got in line expecting to have to explain our lack of tickets. Once we reached the front of the line, we spotted our guide who'd instead come down from the ticket office and went straight to the ferry ramp. When we asked about being told to wait for her by the stairs (not in sight of the ramp until we were at the front of the line), she said "well I told people they could follow me if they needed a restroom." When I continued to question it, she said "Well, you're here now so you didn't miss anything." Charleston, SC - 2nd day in port - took advantage of the shuttle into town in hopes of finding a local tour to pick up on the spot. Turns out it was the same drivers as yesterday and we ended up with the rude driver who insisted we had to be back within 2 hours because he was stopping the runs at 11:30AM even though they were contracted until noon. We asked for directions to the nearest drugstore/grocery store and he insisted there was nothing nearby. We toured the shops over several blocks including the famed City Market. We passed an opportunity to book a carriage ride but opted against it since we had one planned through the ship later. Back waiting for the shuttle and this time it was the nicer driver who told us "What do you mean there's nothing? There's a grocery store 5 minutes away!" He went out of his way to detour and drop us at the grocery store after we promised to be able to get what we needed (eye drops) and be back out in the 15 minutes it would take for him to drop everyone else back at port. When he came back (later than planned because a parade redirected traffic), we were the only ones left to shuttle so he took us on an impromptu tour of the city when we mentioned being unable to see anything with the short time frame given by the other driver despite not having to be back onboard until 3PM. Beaufort, SC - Tours offered by the ship that required multiple sessions like today's carriage ride were arranged in shift groups by the cruise director. We were assigned to the last ride of the day and it was actually a blessing in disguise. Toured the shops in town during the morning and enjoyed lunch in a local restaurant that had service above and beyond our ship experience. The last carriage ride of the day was so nice and peaceful with the setting sun and a great guide named Charlotte. Hilton Head, SC - our one tender port though if you asked our cruise director a few others were to be tender ports but then weren't. We booked a dolphin tour and again had to be given shifts. It was delightful to see such dolphin activity even from the ship and it only continued during the tour itself. After the tour I climbed the Hilton Head lighthouse, a passion of mine whenever there's a lighthouse in a port. Savannah, GA - Took the morning trolley tour which was a full city tour and visit to the Massey School. Having formerly worked with children in the classroom, seeing the first public school in the area was very informative. Taking this tour also gave me a free pass to ride the HOHO trolley system the rest of the day so after lunch on the ship I used the trolley to move all over the city checking out the local charm and famous landmarks. Brunswick, GA - Sea Turtle Rehab Center and Jekyll Island ship tour. Jekyll Island felt like touring a ghost town or abandoned movie set but the Sea Turtle Center was fascinating for an animal lover like myself. Fernandina Beach FL - missed due to storm and being unable to anchor so we sailed into Jacksonville early. The first half of the trip there was an art teacher on board who ran a class every day. I only got to attend the first two classes because of the tour scheduling and was berated by both the teacher (for my lack of art skills) and her husband (to anyone who chose to watch from their seat when she demonstrated or left their brush sitting in the water cup). Second half of the trip, the cruise director ran one art class and organized a couple bingo sessions for the entire 7 days. The first bingo session no one showed because it was during tours. I would have happily offered to run a class or teach a craft if I knew ahead of time and could have gotten materials. Highlight of the trip was visiting the pilothouse (or bridge on the big ships) as this was a much more common thing to offer on the smaller ships. First time we missed because it was scheduled same time as tour. Second time we got the guide to rush us back early to make it only for it to get cancelled due to unfinished maintenance. Third time we finally got to see it. Our cabin steward Emma started out great and we were glad to see our room being tended to so quickly each morning. Especially since there wasn't much else to do after breakfast but return to the room. As the cruise went on, we started noticing how our room was suddenly not getting done until the early afternoon. A much more pressing annoyance when your cabin is the only available bathroom! When we asked Emma about the delay, she said that passengers on deck 2 complained that their cabins weren't getting done first so she has to do their cabins first now. There's no priority in cabins on this ship. Why is deck 2 getting special service? Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We chose this cruise as we were hoping to be at the peak of fall foliage - it was moderate in most ports but you can't control the time of year when the leaves change! It was a very smooth sail - some very nice scenery and some ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we were hoping to be at the peak of fall foliage - it was moderate in most ports but you can't control the time of year when the leaves change! It was a very smooth sail - some very nice scenery and some really good tours. I could have skipped Albany and the docks are dismal. It was painful spending so much time there. We would have liked more time at Sleepy Hollow especially during the height of the Halloween season but for the most part it was very nice. Staff in general needs more information to be helpful and informative when passengers go into town(s) on their own~ Good food and staff- they go above and beyond with the information they have (hotel manager Michelle is a true professional) but many are inexperienced and overworked - Rooms are ample in size and the private balconies are a plus. Cocktail hour could be more organized but all in all, it was a great experience~ Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Northwest Pioneers Columbia & Snake Rivers Cruise October 9 – 21, 2019 Portland, OR – Wednesday - Monday, October 9 - 14 Just to catch up a little, today (Monday) we are back in Portland for the day, returning from our ... Read More
Northwest Pioneers Columbia & Snake Rivers Cruise October 9 – 21, 2019 Portland, OR – Wednesday - Monday, October 9 - 14 Just to catch up a little, today (Monday) we are back in Portland for the day, returning from our trip down the Columbia River on Friday to Astoria, spending the night and all-day Saturday. This ship, American Song, is only one year old and is absolutely beautiful, carrying only 185 passengers. My single balcony stateroom 409 is quite large and comfortable; this is one of the main reasons for choosing this cruise line, their availability of single staterooms. The food is exceptionally good and the wine flows freely; every afternoon there is Happy Hour in the lounges where an open bar dispenses whatever your heart desires! Saturday in Astoria I took two different shore excursions, one in the morning and a second in the afternoon. A three-hour tour out to Fort Clatsop started the day; this is the location where Lewis and Clark wintered in 1805/6 on their legendary excursion of discovery from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean. Having been rebuilt several times, the present structure is an authentic reproduction of their meager housing. Then in the afternoon I took a tour across the Columbia River to Cape Disappointment which is located high above on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the 5-mile wide mouth of the Columbia River and the legendary Columbia Sandbar, the “Graveyard of the Pacific”. It was here that Lewis and Clark first gazed on the object of their trip across the West. Both locations visited were equipped with excellent visitors’ centers. Then yesterday we journeyed back up the River to the town of Kalama where in the afternoon we traveled for an hour and a half to a visitors’ center near Mount St. Helens and the view of the absolute devastation that occurred when this volcano “blew its top“ on May 18, 1980. Of course in the 40 years since, the destruction has disappeared to a small extent with new growths of trees, but it is still clearly evident of the total destructive effects of the gigantic blast when the volcano blew, leveling forest for up to 19 miles away and loosing over 1300 feet of its elevation. Unfortunately, we could not view the snow-covered peak because of a cloud layer but from our observation point at the visitors’ center, the expanse of the destruction is still quite evident. A truly awesome view to behold! Returning to our riverboat we then cruised the remaining distance up the River back to Portland where we again spent the night moored next to the Red Lion Hotel, where I spent two nights preceding the beginning of this cruise. My flight from Orange County Airport on Wednesday afternoon was a quick 2-hours and, after a rather lengthy and expensive taxi trip from the Airport to the Red Lion Hotel, I was pampered in a huge room at this new hotel and convention center, just across the Columbia River from Vancouver, Washington. Breakfast was included but I also enjoyed dinner on the two nights before boarding our riverboat that was moored just adjacent to the Hotel. So, the trip has started out quite good with good cool but clear weather so far; rain is forecast for later in the week, unfortunately. Tomorrow we are in Stevenson, Washington, where we will pass through our first set of locks on the Columbia River. Portland, OR - Monday, October 14th Our full day again in Portland for me was one of leisure since the previous two days had been so active. I decided NOT to take advantage of the boat’s free shuttles into downtown Portland where the main attractions seemed to be Powell’s Bookstore - the nation’s largest, and the International Rose Rest Garden. On the first day of the cruise we had listened to a presentation of shore excursions available to us during our 10 days and were then asked to fill out a sheet listing our choices, some complimentary and others for a fee. Lists were checked at the departures of shore excursions and only those participating were actually charged for those at a fee. My two previous days’ shore excursions in Astoria were both for a fee. One unusual feature of our docking on Sunday at Kalama, WA, for our 1 pm trip to Mount St. Helens was HOW we docked, face into the shore with the bow of this new ship, the American Song, raised up to reveal an entrance/exit into the ship! Most unusual! The first time I have seen such a feature on any riverboat. After departing the boat, we just walked up the slope to the waiting buses. Stevenson, Washington - Tuesday, October 15th Docking this morning in this rather small town, there was nothing much that interested me ashore, so I remained aboard until late afternoon when I walked off and up into their Main Street where I found a bar open and enjoyed one of the 28 different kinds beers. Then it was back aboard. The big activity of the day was a presentation at 11 am of the “American Experience” where was discussed the variety of future cruises offered by American Cruise Lines and also their sister company, Pearl Seas Cruise Lines. By booking aboard during a cruise one would receive a 15% discount plus waived port charges and fees, anywhere from $300 to $500. A substantial savings from the usually rather expensive fares! The one remaining cruise offered by ACL in which I was interested is the “Grand Puget Sound” cruise, 11-days, RT from Seattle, so I expressed my interest in such. Upon checking, the Cruise Director Courtnay discovered ONLY ONE available Single Stateroom 312 on this cruise for the ENTIRE YEAR of 2021! So, I grabbed it! God knows if I will still be around by then, however! Also, of interest on this day was the second of our Guest Lecturer Ian’s “Lewis & Clark” lectures. These have been both enjoyable and informative. Ian is from Australia and is an excellent speaker. His talks always draw a full house audience. Hood River, OR - Wednesday & Thursday, October 16th & 17th Having spent the night docked in Stevenson, we departed at 5:30 am headed farther up the Columbia River to Hood River, OR. Again, I decided to skip the morning tour to the Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum, which I learned later were really interesting. Oh well... My choice of today’s tour was back to the Bonneville Dam which we had earlier passed, traversing through the enormous locks. Built in the 1930s primarily for river navigation and electrical power generation, it is the largest water impoundment project of its time, and this tour was both extensive and tremendously interesting to me. We were permitted inside the giant chambers containing the power generators, original except for occasional upgrades and additions. On Thursday in Hood River after remaining at dock overnight, the highlight tour of the cruise was to the Multnomah Falls at 9:15 am. This is Oregon’s tallest and most picturesque waterfall, all 620 feet of it, via a 45-minute motor coach ride. Fed by rainwater and snowmelt, the Falls’ steady stream runs year-round. It is the second highest year-round waterfall in the United States. A short walk from our bus, beneath the highway and up a slight rise, we soon came in view of this magnificent scene. There are actually two separate falls, the taller one falling into a pond at the base of the high Benson Bridge across the canyon beneath which a second falls drops into a lower pond. It is a stunning sight to behold! Returning to the American’s Song by noontime, it was time for lunch. Then later in the afternoon at 4 pm was the final session of Ian’s lectures, this one about the return trip of Lewis & Clark from their two-year long trip of discovery from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean in 1805-6. The room was packed as usual for his last most interesting talk, finishing to a thunderous applause. Our riverboat departed Hood River, OR for The Dalles, OR, arriving there at 7:30 pm, remaining at dock overnight. The Dalles, OR - Friday, October 18th Again, I did NOT avail myself of the shuttles into town to the various museums but waited until after lunch at 2 pm for our tour to the Cascade Cliffs Winery, arriving there after a 30-minute motor coach ride. Being a relatively small family-owned winery, it is set in the stunningly beautiful and scenic Columbia River Gorge, surrounded by extensive vineyards. Upon arrival we were each given a fine monogrammed glass of white wine, “Symphony”, the glass for us to use for additional samples and to keep afterwards. Then family members proceeded to give a very thorough explanation of their winery, established in 2011, as well as offering more samples of the wines - mostly red. Also explained was the fact that they did NOT market widely, only selling their wines through a subscription method, although we were given the opportunity to purchase from them directly on this tour. I bought a bottle of the white wine “Symphony” at a discounted price of $24! NOT cheap! They also purchase grapes from neighboring vineyards. We were then given a tour of the processing area as well as the bottling area, all very impressive for such a small winery. Overall, a very interesting and enjoyable tour! Umatilla/Pendleton, OR & Richland, WA - Saturday, October 19th On Saturday morning we docked briefly in Umatilla to disembark those of us taking the all-day tour to Pendleton, OR. The American Song would then proceed on to Richland, Washington, where we would again rejoin the riverboat about 5 pm. After a 60-minute motor coach ride, we arrived in Pendleton accompanied by strong, cold winds and blustery rain. Our first stop was a tour of the Pendleton Underground, a below-the-ground transit through interconnected basements of downtown businesses, popular in the past as locations of speak-easies and other activities of questionable repute. A guided tour, it was quite interesting to see the various rooms and the many antiques housed therein, AND to be inside from the outdoor conditions. Once this tour was completed, we were directed to walk down the street for a couple of blocks to the Hamley Steakhouse for our included lunch. As most of the passengers had opted for this tour, requiring three buses, the large Steakhouse was completely filled. Lunch consisted of a salad followed by a huge, delicious pulled-pork sandwich, served with potato chips. For drinks, I ordered a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and then another, not realizing I would be charged. When a bill was presented and I reached into my empty pocket for my wallet - safely stowed in my room in the riverboat, I panicked! A nice lady at my table graciously loaned me $20 to pay my check! (I immediately repaid her on return to our riverboat!) We then loaded back on our three buses for our next stop, the Pendleton Woolen Mill. Being on Saturday, the Mill’s operations were closed, and our “tour” consisted of being ushered through their extensive showroom where highly over-priced merchandise was on sale. Even with the “discount” we were to receive, the prices were still outrageous! Also, on the majority of clothing I checked were labels “Made in China” or in Mexico, Salvador, ... I bought NOTHING! Evidently the Mill produces only the cloth and then sends it elsewhere to be fabricated. Then it was back on our nice warm bus for the trip to our last stop, the Tamastslikt Indian Visitor Center. Located out some distance from the town of Pendleton, on the top of a hill in a very impressive new structure, near a new Indian Casino, the “Wild Horse”, it was quite nice and informative about many of the local tribes with many exhibits and artifacts on display. All very well organized and presented. Our hour and a half drive back to Richland, WA, and the American Song seemed endless! But we finally arrived and then our driver, Dwayne, had to hunt for where the riverboat was docked because another riverboat was occupying our spot. By the way, my favorite bus driver was Dwayne who had followed our boat all along the Columbia, providing bus transfers as needed. He was EXCELLENT! Always giving interesting and information narration, he was always ready with a groaner of a joke. Several times his jokes brought down the entire bus load of us! Finally, our boat was located, and after quite a walk, we were back aboard, exhausted! Just in time for Happy Hour, of course! I slept well that night! Clarkston, WA - Sunday, October 20th On the last day of the cruise, our arrival at the dock in Clarkston, WA was at 11 am, just in time for the Hells Canyon Jetboat ride up the Snake River. Near Richland we had passed into the Snake River from the Columbia River, although I was not aware of just when we did. Across the Snake River from Clarkston, WA is the sister city of Lewiston, ID. CLARKston, LEWISton. Get it? Again, with almost everyone aboard choosing to take the jetboat, there were actually three jet boats required. I was able to be seated in the first one, next to my new friend Mary from Philadelphia. On many of our bus rides I had also shared a seat with her, also traveling alone. Another single lady I often shared seats with was Carolyn, from Ohio. There were two drivers, each taking turns at steering. They explained the propulsion system of the jetboats and were very good with their timely narration. Once past Lewiston, the Snake River became narrower and narrower, and more and more shallow with increasing turbulence and rapids. The hills alongside the River became steeper and steeper and it became clear why this Hells Canyon is renowned to be the deepest canyon in the United States, even deeper than Grand Canyon. At one point on the River we pulled up to the bank and docked, next to a “Ranch” where we all enjoyed a buffet lunch of roast pork, barbecue beans, potato salad, and rolls with drinks. It tasted wonderful! Then back on the River, now becoming a real boating experience. Finally, we reached a point where progress was becoming more and more of a challenge - at least for a jetboat full of tourists. So, we turned around and proceed DOWN the River, at first experiencing no less of the turbulence. It was one of the more exhilarating experiences I have ever had! Once in New Zealand I took one of their jetboat rides which was equally exciting. Returning to our riverboat at dock in Clarkston, it was just in time for Happy Hour - of course! Also just in time to get ready for our final dinner aboard, “Surf & Turf“ with delicious steak and lobster. A perfect end to a fabulous cruise! Then, the most unpleasant of any cruise - packing up to disembark. After dinner I got my carry-on size suitcase all packed up and placed in the hallway by 10 pm, and then tried to get some sleep before my early rise in the morning. Clarkston/Spokane, WA - Monday, October 21st Breakfast was served in the MDR starting at 5:30 am and I had packed up my Princess tote bag with my iPad, etc., so I was ready. My usual breakfast was a Western omelet, side of bacon, English muffin, with cranberry juice and coffee, of course. Returning to my room for the last time to retrieve my Princess bag, I realized that my passport had been packed in my luggage. Fortunately, I found my luggage still in the foyer and was able to open it and retrieve my passport! Just before 7 am we were instructed to disembark and claim our luggage ashore near the buses, and it was total confusion. With almost everyone aboard taking the ship’s shuttle to the Spokane Airport, the pile of luggage was substantial. Luckily, I found my one piece fairly quickly and was directed to the first (of three) buses where I indicated my airline as Alaska Airlines, got on board and took a second-row seat. Slowly other passengers successfully located their luggage and it was placed aboard the same bus they were to ride on to Spokane. Shortly, Carolyn came aboard, and I asked her to sit with me. So, our LONG ride of two and a half hours to Spokane Airport began! At first quite interesting, as we climbed up and up out of the Snake River Valley, once on top of the hills, the scenery became very boring with nothing but hill after hill of wheat fields - almost all the way to Spokane! Sleep came easily to me on several occasions and the time finally passed, and we were at the Spokane Airport. Fortunately, Alaska Airlines was our first stop, and I was the first off, saying my goodbyes to Carolyn. Unfortunately, my luggage - being the first on, was the last off! Since my flight was not until 1:40 pm and it was only about 9:30 am, I did have plenty of time! Quickly I passed through Security since I have TSA Check, and my self-printed baggage label put me through check-in also very quickly. I was soon at my departure gate. Spokane Airport has free internet and I spent my wait time on my iPad, checking email, updating the iOS on my iPad, and playing Solitaire. Soon it was time for my flight to depart. Although I had paid for Premium Economy Seat 7C, after families with small children had boarded along with others requiring extra time boarding, I immediately followed suit. After all, I AM 81! Comfortable in my seat, I awaited the rest of this full flight to Seattle to board, and then we were off for the less than an hour flight. Unfortunately, our arrival in Seattle was met with complications getting access to our gate, and what’s worse; our arrival gate was in the North Terminal, requiring their shuttle train to reach my C20 departure gate in Terminal C. I made it okay, but just barely! My flight on to Orange County was delayed about 10 minutes, which helped. Again, I was seated in 7C and, as luck would have it, the middle seat remained empty. My flight on to Orange County lasted only a couple of hours and our arrival, after two glasses of Chardonnay wine, was right on time with very little air turbulence. Overall, a very satisfactory flight. My luggage arrived right on schedule, and after a trip to the men’s room, I was out the door towards the SuperShuttle dispatcher. At first, he told me it would be awhile for a van to Corona del Mar, and I complained that this was the third time that I had arrived to the same story. Whatever, my van soon arrived, and I was off for home, arriving around 7:30 pm, tired but happy to be back home! Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
CABIN: see "Cabin Review" below "Raitings" DINING: If you are a foodie, expect to be disappointed. The food was generally good and the quantity sufficient. The service was inconsistent and often sloppy. Mostly ... Read More
CABIN: see "Cabin Review" below "Raitings" DINING: If you are a foodie, expect to be disappointed. The food was generally good and the quantity sufficient. The service was inconsistent and often sloppy. Mostly young adults who work long hours and try hard, but do not have adequate training and supervision. EMBARKATION: The usual cattle car of moving us from the hotel to the boat (there being by tradition no "ship" on an inland waterway in the USA). When we got to the ship we were left to ourselves to find our own cabin. ENRICHMENT ACTIVITIES: The lecturers were generally knowledgeable. They often doubled as the evening's entertainers. ENTERTAINMENT: Appropriate for the size of the vessel. They brought aboard some fun acts. FITNESS & RECREATION: There is a small but reasonably well equipped exercise room. Other than back-n-forth in a passageway, there is no place to do walking laps of any significant distance without incorporating staircases. ONBOARD EXPERIENCE: Their slogan is "Small ship cruising done perfectly." My wife and I have cruised on HAL, Oceania, Regent, NCL and Sebourn. This set a high bar for "done perfectly" that our experience aboard did not come anywhere close to achieving. The staff was mostly young, often well-educated young adults, at least several of of whom are working the job to make more so they could return to school. They generally had a pleasant, helpful attitude, but the experience they delivered was inconsistent. For example, we ordered a fairly basic breakfast (generally yogurt, fruit, English muffin, bacon and juice) in our cabin about six times during the course of the cruise. It was delivered by at least four different staff members. Not once was everything we ordered with accompanying items (e.g. one day there was no bowl into which to pour box of cereal). And on one occasion our order got misplaced so we received no cabin service. On balance, we are not foodies. We would rather have friendly, well-intentioned service than snooty, precise service. What was most important to us was seeing cruising the river. While major itinerary changes (discussed further down) were a significant disappointment, the boat itself is a great platform on which to tour the American heartland. It's ability to nudge up again the shore and drop its bow gangway so that we could go ashore was excellent. It was wonderful to watch the shoreline scroll by. Had we been trapping under cover by bad weather the experience would have been a serious disappointment, but like high water on the Mississippi, that is beyond ACL's control. PUBLIC ROOMS: The boat has three not counting the dining room. In particular, the one on the second deck aft was cozy. On both the second and forth deck aft there was always an assortment of snacks, iced water, ice and soft drinks available. The public space on the fourth deck aft also made a coffee maker for cappuccinos, lattes, etc. that worked about 50% of the time. SERVICE: (Read ONBOARD EXPERIENCE above.) Again, most of the staff was young and seemed inexperience, but was friendly and wanted to be helpful. I can forgive a lot of technical mistakes in exchange for a friendly, can-do attitude. SHORE EXCURSIONS: We did several. As with tours the world over, they varied depending on subject matter and guide. My wife went on one tour she described as awful. Talking to people at dinner who had been on two other buses, they had enjoyed the same tour. None of the tours were 'special access' or anything we could not have done on our own if we had been land-cruising in our car. VALUE FOR MONEY: This was an expensive trip. Our expectations of it were set high both by the original cruise itinerary and ACL's assurance of "Small ship cruising done perfectly." The shortfall in the latter having been covered above, I will focus on the former. Our cruise itinerary was badly compromised by the high level of water in the upper Mississippi River. During the first week of our two-week trip, new bits of bad news were rolled out to us almost daily. This was not done well, nor were the solutions for cancelling three ports on the Mississippi imaginative, instead turning the boat into a very expensive hotel by elongating our stay in a couple of cities. Intellectually I can appreciate to logistical issues ACL faced, but in the end what saved the trip was good weather so that we could enjoy our top priority of seeing the river. - - - - - When I think about the numerous trips we have taken all over the world, my primary metric is the overall experience from the time we leave our home until the time we return. There are always good and bad components. Some of each involve arrangements we have made ourselves that are totally beyond the control of the primary service provider - in this case American Cruise Lines. In this review I have tried to remove such influencers from my review to distill out what was within ACL's reasonable control. - When booking the trip, we wanted to arrive at the hotel from which we would embark a day early. Unlike any other cruise line we have ever worked with, ACL categorically refused to help with extending our stay. We were advised to make our own reservation, then ask the hotel not to move us to a different room for the pre-embarkation night. - Six days before our embarkation, I got an e-mail message advising us that the embarkation point had changed from St. Paul, MN to Louisville, KY and we should change our travel plans accordingly. When my wife called to ask if ACL could help extend our stay at the Louisville hotel, she got the same answer - NO. On the plus side, during the course of our cruise I was advised that ACL had arranged for us to be reimbursed by the hotel for our additional night. - Had I not seen the e-mail about the new embarkation point, I can only speculate about ACL's actions to communicate the change to me. I do know for a fact that the message came with not request to acknowledgement of receiving it, so ACL had not idea of who had read the e-mail making me wonder whether some passengers literally missed the boat. - As the itinerary continued to dissolve, some leadership from the captain would have been re-assuring, but we heard little from him. I speculate that in Memphis we had a change of captain, but I cannot be sure because he never said a word to us over the PA system. - Two of the itinerary changes - Cape Girardeau and St. Louis - were surprising in that they were announced at the last minute. It struck me as sufficiently odd that ACL did not have shore-side intelligence to keep them better informed of local situations. It was not as though river high changes overnight, yet in the case of Cape Girardeau, ACL would have us believe that no one knew we could not do a port visit until AMERICA was steaming along the city's flood wall. - With the numerous itinerary changes and lack of imagination in a revised itinerary it was difficult not to devolve into conspiracy theories. These were exacerbated by things such as having to be back aboard in Natchez after only a half-day there, yet arriving at our next port at 10 PM that night. Why couldn't we have spent the whole day in Natchez and cruised to the next port later into the night? I have prattled on enough for the reader to get a sense of our cruise, so I will stop. There are no doubt some spelling and grammatical errors above, but I've run out of time to edit them. Hopefully they do not interfere with the points that I have tried to make. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
This cruise was completely not organized. Room problems, food problems, tour problems, plus bus problems. It appeared on one bus trip that the driver must not of been licensed to drive. I thought we were going to go over a cliff several ... Read More
This cruise was completely not organized. Room problems, food problems, tour problems, plus bus problems. It appeared on one bus trip that the driver must not of been licensed to drive. I thought we were going to go over a cliff several times. Several crewmembers walked off the ship in the middle of the cruise. From what I heard the cruise director was fired and left the ship. All tours set up pre-cruise had to be booked a 2nd times on the ship. I have a second cruise booked with the mayor and will cancel on my return home. There is also a problem with American’s website. American seems to be very late and updating the website and many things I missing regarding your particular cruise. Tour times changed from what was originally stated and tour times change. One evening while we were cruising the deck divider that dividing our cabin from the neighbor cabin blew open. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We booked because we wanted to really experience ultimate luxury cruising but the facility of toys such as helicopters and submarine. We could not have been more disappointed. Facilities on board ship are very limited in terms of outside ... Read More
We booked because we wanted to really experience ultimate luxury cruising but the facility of toys such as helicopters and submarine. We could not have been more disappointed. Facilities on board ship are very limited in terms of outside space and inside activities. There is no outside pool and the only inside one is bizarrely placed in the middle of a café. Paying guests were clearly second priority over the endless TV/media/travel agents and VIPs who were given free run of the ship at every port. The toys were all locked away and not made available to guests. The submarine was not allowed to be deployed in US waters, zodiacs, kayaks and bikes were kept permanently looked away and the helicopter was flown just once on the whole voyage and this was for the media to enjoy. Staff seemed to be poorly trained but did their best. Pockets of excellence were present but this came from staff who had a luxury cruise background. But senior management were virtually invisible and when they did appear were very defensive. This ship is an example of poor leadership. Many staff however just seemed to think guests were an imposition. Food was ok but not fine dining 9except for Lumiere's). There were only 45 guests out of a potential of 224. It was a ghost ship and in addition staff morale was very low. Many volunteered that many key staff had already left after just three weeks and that others were planning to leave shortly. In short, this was an excuse for luxury, ultimate cruising and a very poor discovery cruise. There are far better luxury cruises and far more focused discovery companies. We spent a fortune on this cruise but will be spending far less next year for better facilities and service. Goodbye Scenic and good luck. You're going to need it. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
The Grand Puget Sound Cruise on American Cruise line was our 40th cruise on a variety of cruise lines with ship ranging in sizes from 120 passenger to 5,000+ passengers. We chose the cruise because we wanted to try one in the northwest. ... Read More
The Grand Puget Sound Cruise on American Cruise line was our 40th cruise on a variety of cruise lines with ship ranging in sizes from 120 passenger to 5,000+ passengers. We chose the cruise because we wanted to try one in the northwest. The web-site and brochure depicts "Simple Sophistication" and a "culinary experience". Unfortunately it was not our experience. From the minute we arrived to the time we left it was a series of miss-steps, poor food and service. Embarkation: We were met on the dock when we arrived by car. The staff took our luggage and said it would be placed in our room. We checked in at the gangway and were told someone would escort us to the lounge to await our room to be opened (check-in from 10:am on but rooms to be available at 11:30). We walked on the ship and there was no staff within view. We waited 10 minutes before we started wandering the ship. We found the lounge on our own and got something to drink. We were told we would be advised when our room was available (it was 11:10). We were never advised and at 12:00 we decided to check on our room ourselves. It appeared to be ready so we moved in. Public Areas: The ship has two lounges and one dining room. The lounges were generally comfortable and had trays of chips and sodas available 24hrs a day. Cookies were also made available twice a day. Unfortunately the early bird breakfast in each lounge were not replenished properly. If you did not get a rolls or juice in the first 15 minutes, you didn't get any. I only observed the juice to be replenished once and that was only after I ran down a crew member and asked for it. (he only brought up OJ but left the other juices empty) There are a couple small sitting rooms, one that serves as the library. The dining room only has tables for 8 and gets very crowded. The tables should only be set for six as it was very difficult to get the large heavy chairs close to the table. There is a very small laundry room with two small washers and dryers. This is completely inadequate for a ship with 175 passengers and does not offer a laundry service. Average wait time for a washer was over two hours. The workout room had 3 bikes and some type of rowing machine, no treadmill. Service: The service level was all over the board. I liken it to a high school play -a few knew the script, but most were faking it. Nothing clicked. There was no anticipation of your needs and little notice of items that needed attention. If you didn't complain or ask for something, it wasn't done (and sometimes not even then) Sometimes it was easier to do it yourself than to find someone. The office was often empty. It was impossible to reach any staff by the phones on the boat. I tried on 5 separate occasions to reach housekeeping, room service and guest relations only to have the message say they were on the phone and to leave a message, but then when you try to leave a message it would say that no more messages could be left. I mentioned this at our dining table and the other guest tried it with the same results. The initial Captain was a ghost. We never saw or heard him. The second Captain (Captain Brown) was only there the last 3 days and he was involved in everything and was very personable and approachable. The Cruise Director (Aundrinea) tried very hard and overall did a good job but there were some items that were not well planned. It appeared she had too many responsibilities and some details were just overlooked. Room attendants: Throughout the cruise all I heard were complaints from other passengers regarding room attendants and that matched our experience. Dirty glasses not being replaced, paper goods (TP & tissues) not being replaced (I had to hunt both down myself) missing towels or bathmats, room or bathroom not being cleaned. (The cookie crumbs in our room were not vacuumed up for 10 days.) I noticed two blood spots our bedspread the first night that should have been obvious to the room attendant but it was never cleaned. Sheets were not changed very often. General housekeeping: The common areas of the ship were kept pretty clean, however there were spots on some of the furniture that should have been addressed. Maintenance: I reported our safe not working the first afternoon and then 3 times after that. (Once directly to the maintenance person) It was never fixed. Several other cruisers complained about lights not working and those were never addressed. Dining Room: Service varied from atrocious to very good depending on the server . It took us several tries before we found Tamara and we sat at her table from then on. Unfortunately even she was at the mercy of the kitchen staff and they were terrible. (The chef and a waiter were replaced during the cruise). Room Service: The girl that delivered the breakfast was very nice but almost always forgot something. Despite having a large do not disturb sign on our door we hear someone pounding on our door. I am in the shower and my wife is in her nightgown. When she opens the door a girl (not the same one that delivered our food) pushes past her saying "I need to get your dishes" .The girl grabbed my wife's half full coffee off the dresser, put it on the tray (we had already stacked the rest of the dishes) and left without saying another word. My wife was so dumbstruck she didn't say anything. Food: Food was definitely not up to the quality I would expect from a cruise costing this much. Lunch the first day all at our table ordered the BLT. Some received a BL (no T) and some received a BT (no L). This was a forewarning of things to come. The fish the first night was the driest I have ever experienced. I was going to send it back but every person that had the fish was complaining about the same thing. Breakfast the next day took 45 minutes after ordering and potatoes were cold. Several at our table got up and left because they never received their food. The selection of entrées was limited to 3 items and there were nights there was nothing we cared for. Luckily we soon learned we could order a hamburger or steak as a substitute. The hamburgers were dry as a bone. The steaks were excellent. Other meals were adequate but not reflective of a high end cruise but more like cafeteria food. If the food had been served in a restaurant, the steak would have been the only thing I would have ever ordered again. The soups were usually very good. Our table had a game guessing what chef cooked our food. We nicknamed the cooks Overcook and Undercook as the food usually fell into one of those categories. Rice was always undercooked (until the last night) and meat was usually undercooked. Six of us at our table ate lunch or dinner in town 6 times. The fact we would spend $45-$50 a meal per couple to avoid ship food tells a lot. The pastry chef usually did a good job. The deserts were good and the scones excellent. Breakfast Room Service. Limited selection. Food was average quality except something would always be cold or missing all together. The day before debarkation they missed our entire breakfast causing us to wait an extra 40 minutes and miss the tender into town. It became a game to guess what would be missing or cold in our breakfast order. Lounge Evening cocktail hour: There was a good selection of hard liquor but the wine selection was limited. The hors d'oeuvres were plentiful but what should be served hot were always cold or lukewarm. We would always try them but rarely finished them due to the temperature issue. The only ones we could eat are the ones that were supposed to be served cold. The "late Bar" included root beer floats and popcorn. Both were very good. Itinerary: Puget sound is beautiful and the cruise stopped in some great towns. Unfortunately the sailing schedule did not allow sufficient time in two of the towns. In Poulsbo we had less than two hours in town when you subtracted the tender time. (We only had one hour since we missed the earlier tender waiting for breakfast) The sailing times were a mystery as they did not provide for the best experience in the towns. Excursions: The choice of excursions was somewhat limited and few were without issues. On the beer tasting excursions we were promised four breweries but only reached three. The last brewery we were allowed a whopping 10 minutes to order and drink our beer. Some participants never even had a chance to order. The itinerary in the brochure would make you believe that the ship stops in Victoria. It Doesn't. You must take a 1.5 hr ferry to get to Victoria BC and a 30 min bus ride to Butchart Gardens. This did not leave enough time in town and since the ship purchased a group ferry ticket we had to leave on a 3:00PM ferry or pay again for a ticket on a later ferry. Debarkation: While it started out smoothly it soon went downhill. There was 4 buses but no organization as to who got on what bus. The smart way would have been to load by airline(s) but there was no organization. At the airport only 2 buses could unload at each terminal. This resulted in our bus unloading at the international terminal when almost everyone was flying Alaska airline (a 1/4 mile away). Speaking of our bus, items were stacked in front of the exit door, blocking them in case of emergency. An emergency was likely as the driver spent the whole time talking on the phone and continually wandering into the lane to our left. Few cruises are without some issue(s) but usually the good far outweighs the bad and the cost. This was not the case for this cruise. Based on all our other cruises and the cost of this cruise, we had high expectations. Unfortunately they did not delivery. There was nothing to justify the cost. We can get better food and service on cruises for a third the cost. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
This was our second river cruise - the first was a few years ago down the Danube in August. The American Queen is a very special ship,not only because of the beautiful furnishings, collectibles and artwork which is abundant, but because ... Read More
This was our second river cruise - the first was a few years ago down the Danube in August. The American Queen is a very special ship,not only because of the beautiful furnishings, collectibles and artwork which is abundant, but because of the paddlewheel. Its power is ever present, and is mesmerizing. Visits to the engine room are encouraged. We cruised from New Orleans to Memphis. The printed material they distributed were clear and well-presented, from the daily newsletters to the material you receive pre-cruise. There were some discouraging reviews that I read prior to departing, so was ready for anything, but I found most everything about this cruise to be very satisfying and agreeable. Our room was excellent - well located, comfortable and beautifully decorated. The shower had good water pressure and plenty of hot water. The steward made up the room twice daily and left Godiva chocolate on the pillows nightly. The beds were very comfortable. The food - the menus were varied and changed daily - everything labeled with information for cruisers with allergies or other special diets. The food came out hot, if a bit too quickly. I often ate fish, and my husband beef, and no complaints about either. The staff looks a bit disheveled, but everyone was friendly and aimed to please. We sat at a table for 2 (this was not requested) so were a bit disappointed about that. When we asked to change, we were led to a table on the opposite side of the room which was above the engine room. DO NOT sit here (left side rear when walking in). We had one meal here and returned to our original table - it was so noisy that you had to strain to hear anyone speaking. We took breakfast and lunch on the Front Porch, which had excellent food even though it was a buffet. There were not an endless amount of choices, but enough and of good quality. The staff assigned to work there were helpful and kept everything very clean. I found the coffee to be just OK, including the self-serve cappuccino. The soft-serve ice cream deserves special mention - I am not a fan usually, but this was really good, available 24/7, toppings with it, and choice of cone or cup. Daily excursions - The hop on - hop off bus was an excellent way to get around and all pre-paid tours were indicated on the map of the town. There was more to do than we were able, even though we got off the boat early (it was also hovering at 100 degrees every day, so we could not move very fast!). Natchez was my favorite port while cruising. There were 8 hours of port time at each stop, except for St. Francisville. We couldn't stop at Greenville due to heavy traffic coming down river because of dredging. My husband did the optional excursion to Vicksburg battlefield, which he said was excellent. I was happy with the ones included. Entertainment - Without question, the best on any cruise. The shows each night were not to be missed. There were 4 performers which included the Cruise Director and Asst. Cruise Director (Ryan and Ashley), and all were very good to excellent. The back up band was excellent. There was nightly music in the Engine Room bar (rock and roll) and in the lounge pre-dinner for each seating. He had sing-a-longs booklets for all, played with a flourish, as well as being an engaging storyteller. All music on the ship was live. On-board activities - We spent 2 full days cruising instead of one because of the river traffic traveling south. The options are limited, but the staff does have some organized activities that were enjoyable. I like to read and there was a larger pool than anticipated, so was pleasantly surprised and kept cool in there. There was a small gym with 4 pieces of equipment (usually unoccupied) and mats for stretching. I do yoga, so found that to be ideal for me. There were many board games, puzzles, daily crosswords and sudoku, and tables for playing. The chart room was always open and you could borrow books about the river and history of the South. Jerry, the Riverlorian, gave daily talks, and was very knowledgeable and engaging. He also gave daily tours of the Control Room. I learned quite a bit about the river, the history of the Civil War, and the many nuances that we did not learn in school. Service - I was happy overall - service was good, not flawless.I am not a fan of mandating gratuities, and thought $18.50/day was high. Overall - This trip was on my bucket list and well worth doing. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and would recommend it for "older" clientele, even those with physical limitations. Also, they have you arrive one day prior to embarkation in New Orleans. I would recommend you spend at least an additional day there, as well as an additional day or 2 in Memphis. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We decided to take this trip to celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary, and every moment of the trip was wonderful! Being on the ship was like living in a museum. The crew and Captain were just great, and the food was outstanding. We ... Read More
We decided to take this trip to celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary, and every moment of the trip was wonderful! Being on the ship was like living in a museum. The crew and Captain were just great, and the food was outstanding. We watched our young chef cook gourmet meals on a wooden stove! You can't beat Maine scenery for beauty. Everyone had an opportunity to work the sails and lines, raise and lower the anchor and sail the ship. There was a lot of time to read, reflect and/or just watch the gorgeous Maine coast and islands of Penobscot Bay go by. Sleeping quarters were a little tight, but we had everything we needed, and the chance to see the scenery, be on the water, watch the full moon rise, and set, were great memories we will keep forever. Not recommended for folks with physical handicaps that impede walking or climbing up rope ladders or stairs. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
This was our fifth cruise with this company. We did the cruise called, "New England Islands". As usual the food was memorable. And as usual service at meals goes at a slow pace. For the first time on a cruise I had servers dump ... Read More
This was our fifth cruise with this company. We did the cruise called, "New England Islands". As usual the food was memorable. And as usual service at meals goes at a slow pace. For the first time on a cruise I had servers dump food on me - twice! They also had a specific problem at breakfast. I believe most people are eager for the first cup of coffee in the morning. That was very very slow. They have a self-service buffet with fresh fruit available. I would take some fruit on my way to be seated for breakfast. Wait staff is in no hurry to approach the table. When they get there they have order pad in hand - but no coffee. They will take orders for food and drink - coffee. They MIGHT come back with coffee before the food is available (or they might not). The boat is one of the smaller and oldest in the American Cruise Lines fleet. When I asked if they had any note pads available I was told those are only available on the larger ships. They also have only one on-board "expert" while the larger ships (in my experience) have two of them. The larger ships have more staff and will serve you breakfast in your cabin. The other four cruises we took with this company were all on US rivers and the scenery was far superior to this trip. We saw fishing boats. We saw pleasure boats. We saw water. We saw islands. We had bus rides where we heard the names of wealthy folks who owned the houses along the road. Information about the shore excursions was limited and often wrong. Most of the passengers were (as usual) very senior citizens. Most of us would like to know: 1) how much walking on this excursion? 2) How challenging is the walk? 3) How long is the bus ride? 4) What is the availability of rest rooms on this excursion? This trip, like all American Cruise Lines trips, had organized activities on board. Unlike every other cruise we took, many of the scheduled activities did not happen. Other activities were bungled. With all my complaints, we signed up for another cruise with the company. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We traveled the Great Lakes from Chicago to NYC via the Welland Canal, 4 Great Lakes, Erie Canal, Lake Sinclair. Only Lake Huron was a bit rough for a day. Our cabin was basic 8 by 10. Separate shower and stool, 2 drawers and about 15 ... Read More
We traveled the Great Lakes from Chicago to NYC via the Welland Canal, 4 Great Lakes, Erie Canal, Lake Sinclair. Only Lake Huron was a bit rough for a day. Our cabin was basic 8 by 10. Separate shower and stool, 2 drawers and about 15 hangars. Next time I would upgrade to the 10 by 13. Food was outstanding. Yogurts, rolls, fruit, hot cereal and then 2 warm dishes either, waffles, French toast, eggs, sausage, bacon etc. Lunch was a soup and a sandwich and a huge cookie. Dinner was always 2 choices meat or seafood. Tuna, Mahi mahi, scallops, catfish, NY strip, prime rib, chicken, pork etc. Beer and wine were offered for dinner and lunch. Soda all day. On board lecturer did about 5 lectures, some evenings a movie, a dice game. One morning a bloody mary bingo. We had 65 passengers so there was always room in the lounge to sit and read, socialize. Passengers were very well traveled. It is a BYOB policy for happy hour with the ship hosting two happy hours. We never felt claustrophobic as there was room. Shore excursions were in addition and well attended. Jasmine was our cruise director and she was excellent. The ladies who were the wait staff and the room attendants were very accommodating. I would recommend this to anyone wanting to travel the Erie Canal, meet like minded people who do not expect a cruise liner atmosphere. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We chose this cruise having experienced the lower Mississippi, which was wonderful. We enjoyed the Providence city excursion prior to the cruise. The driver was very knowledge and took us to many places of interest. However, this ... Read More
We chose this cruise having experienced the lower Mississippi, which was wonderful. We enjoyed the Providence city excursion prior to the cruise. The driver was very knowledge and took us to many places of interest. However, this cruise was disorganized, seemed to be their training cruise and their oldest ship. Crew members were changed throughout the cruise. For example, the first meal the servers were unfamiliar with what they were serving. By day three those that had been on the ship for a couple days had figured things out. Excursions were expensive and short, should've been complimentary. Due weather a couple islands had to be reversed, leaving limited time for the excursion, but no reduction in price. Walter, the Historian, was wonderful and seemed to help coach others. We had initially booked two additional cruises by day four which we had canceled on day six due to this experience. For the price this was a disappointing cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We wanted to tour the Great Lakes on a small ship in style. To start our days, the breakfasts were always excellent with a nice variety. The portions at each meal were just right. We enjoyed the open seating at each meal. The cabin and ... Read More
We wanted to tour the Great Lakes on a small ship in style. To start our days, the breakfasts were always excellent with a nice variety. The portions at each meal were just right. We enjoyed the open seating at each meal. The cabin and bathroom were a good size with a nice shower. The cabin steward was very attentive and friendly. The ship was well maintained and clean. We appreciated the overnight laundry service. The cruise director and her assistant were always available and on top of everything. They were very informative about the next day's activities. The entertainment duo had a good variety of music and vocals with changing themes night to night. In summation, our goal for this cruise was to familiarize ourselves and learn more about the beautiful Great Lakes. We learned about the people past and present and the surrounding towns/cities. Also, our goal was to have an enjoyable vacation with people with the same interests. We achieved our goals and enjoyed ourselves very much. We will be looking forward to cruising with Pearl Seas again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019

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