This was our first cruise on a small ship. Our previous 4 cruises were with Holland America and Princess. The American Eagle is a new paddle wheeler and we were on it's christening cruise. She holds about 140 passengers and, being ... Read More
This was our first cruise on a small ship. Our previous 4 cruises were with Holland America and Princess. The American Eagle is a new paddle wheeler and we were on it's christening cruise. She holds about 140 passengers and, being new, there are some wrinkles to work out. I suspect many of these can be corrected, some not. First, the average age of the passengers is probably 70-75. Some with walkers or other mobility issues. Why the designers felt one slow elevator was sufficient for so many senior citizens I'll never know. Many were not able to climb 3 or 4 flights of stairs to get to or from their state rooms and the single elevator resulted in long waits for many. Really!
Next issue is the ventilation system. The only way to keep the dampness out of the room is to run the air conditioning constantly. After a while, even down south, it gets too cold in the room. One the AC is off, the moisture in the room builds up quickly and everything gets damp. Even the slider to the veranda has so much condensation on the inside, you can't see out it.
While in Baton Rouge and tied up at the dock, a wicked storm came through with 70 mph winds and tornado warnings. Every room on the port side received water damage as the strong winds pushed rain under the sliding door and wet the rugs. Really wet. It's not easy to dry out carpet so it took about 4 days for that to get corrected. The crew did what they could. This didn't help the moisture issue I'm sure.
The acoustics in the dining room were terrible. Again, we're talking about senior citizens, many with hearing issues, but even with good hearing, it is hard to carry on a conversation at a table of 6 due to all the back ground chatter.
Now, let me go over some of the pluses. Once you've paid your fare, you can pretty much put your wallet away. Unlike the big boats, excursions are included, going ashore on a hot day, water is free. Complimentary cocktails every evening with top shelf liquor. There is no jewelry shop, gift shop or over priced artwork to buy. Free wireless. Drinks with lunch and dinner free. The staff is all American and a friendlier, more polite bunch would be hard to find. There is entertainment in the evenings after dinner that includes free ice cream Sunday's. We're not talking big name entertainment but Bill and Laura on our boat kept us laughing, singing and amazed at their talent all week long.
The rooms are larger than the typical veranda room on the big cruise ships. The excursions were mostly bus tours of the ports of call and plantation tours.
The best part was the small boat experience. It is so much more personal. We were treated like kings and queens, not a number with a fat wallet. The crew gets to know most everyone, and visa versa. Would we cruise again with American Cruise Lines? Absolutely. The mega cruise ships have become too impersonal and greedy. It's probably safe to say my wife and I will seek out more small cruise ships in the future. We loved it! Read Less