American Spirit Entertainment & Activities
With the ship in port every single day of every itinerary, going ashore is the most popular activity. Reasonably priced shore excursions are available, and they usually focus on an historical or cultural sight or a place of natural beauty. (On my Hudson River cruise, excursions visited Washington Irving's home, the Hudson River Maritime Museum and the US Military Academy at West Point in addition to other stops.)
When underway for the short periods during the day, life is casual and laid back with few organized activities. The onboard lecturer might sit in the lounge and answer questions or narrate on passing destinations to anyone who is interested, or on some summer sailings, the crew arrange kite flying from the top deck. Otherwise activities are mostly self-started and include reading, Bridge, napping, or chatting to other passengers. Afternoon tea combined with apple tasting one day might provide a culinary diversion.
In the evening, everyone gears up (and dresses up a bit too) for the 5:30 p.m. cocktail hour. This is the social highlight of the day and the room is abuzz with mingling passengers. Following dinner, the onboard lecturer for the week will give a 45-minute talk that speaks about the region and usually ties in with what you will see the next day. One night might also feature a Bingo game or a local entertainer brought in to sing some shanties or geographically appropriate music.
Editor's Note: When choosing on which ship to cruise, remember that the American Spirit carries twice as many passengers as her smaller running mates. When visiting the smaller destinations or shore excursions, I found that some tours would have been easier and quicker if we only had half as many people. With the smaller ships offering the same facilities and service, I might be tempted to try them next time. Others, however, preferred the bigger ship because it offered a greater variety of people. The odds are better at finding companionable travelers amongst 100 passengers rather than only 49.