After over 100 ocean cruises (and two European River Cruises), we wanted to see more of the United States, via our preferred mode of travel (cruising). We originally booked with a different river cruise company, before doing due diligence information gathering. The more we learned, the more consideration we gave to American Cruise Lines (ACL), before finally casting our lot with them.
We finally settled upon the seven night, round trip itinerary offered by ACL, aboard the paddle wheeler America. Here are some of our findings/opinions.
The folks at ACL's Connecticut Home Office are extremely knowledgeable and easy to work with. We received quick, timely and (as we learned) correct answers to our questions, without being shuttled to different folks for complete answers. All the information we received proved to be "spot on"
We chose to book and schedule our own air transportation (creatures of habit). Not even sure if there was an option to book through the cruise line. We did choose, and enjoy, the complimentary pre-cruise night at the Intercontinental Hotel in New Orleans. The included complimentary transfer from hotel to boat was handled efficiently and without any major snafus. We found the on-board cabin accommodations very comfortable and space efficient, not in the least bit cramped. The housekeeping was very thorough and efficient, without being at all bothersome (sort of magically invisible).
The dining experience was excellent. We had absolutely no complaints concerning the quality of the menu choices, nor the quality of the service. Granted, these are very individualistic observations/gradings, but seemed to be echoed by most, if not all the other passengers we discussed them with. Another seemingly popular aspect was the complimentary beer, wine and soft drinks offered at lunch and dinner seating.
The boat seemed immaculately clean at all times, and the entire crew were extremely friendly and helpful throughout the cruise.
This was a Civil War themed cruise, so there were a number of lectures/talks presented on that period of history. Additionally, there was a resident Riverlorian aboard giving daily (and a few extra) presentations on the historical impact of the river upon travel, commerce, exploration and development of this part of the country, and the overall history of the United States.
There were three lounges (on this boat) for passenger use, when other events were not scheduled in them. Two of these had complimentary pre-packaged snacks (chips. cookies and such) as well as beverages: coffee, tea, sodas, juices, water -- available 24/7.
Additionally, there was entertainment each evening provided by on-board entertainers, and also some local artists brought aboard at various ports of call. All were very entertaining and enjoyable -- again, from our personal perspective.
Each evening, in specified lounges, before dinner, there was a complimentary cocktail hour, offering varied hors d'oeuvres, and beer, wine, assorted spirits and cordials, sodas -- as well as the coffee, tea and juices that are available 24/7. Most folks seemed to enjoy this opportunity to mingle, meet, and chat with fellow passengers, and various members of the crew and staff. There was also a Library which had two computers and a printer for passenger use. Boat-wide Wi-Fi was also available (complimentary), although a tad slow.
There was at least one complimentary excursion at each port of call, and sometimes additional specialized excursions were offered, at an additional cost.
We were so impressed with the overall experience that we booked two additional cruises with American Cruise Lines, and have placed a few others on our "possible to do" list.
Booking future cruises onboard also offers some nice incentives. On this cruise the benefits were a 15% discount off per-passenger pricing, plus making the "Port Charges and Fees" complimentary.
Sorry for the length of this. I hope you find this useful.