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America Review

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4.0 / 5.0
107 reviews

Riverboat with elevator for seniors, spacious cabins, interesting enrichment and accessible excursions
No bar means boat shuts down early; activities and entertainment are limited
Bottom Line
Perfect for cruisers with mobility issues who want a comfortable vacation within the United States




Passenger to Crew


Shore Excursions
Sails To
Sails From
American Cruise Lines Cruise Deals
Chris Gray Faust
Cruise Critic Managing Editor

America Overview

One of several small ship lines that has staked out a claim on United States rivers, the Great Lakes and coastal waterways, American Cruise Lines has been sailing the Mississippi since 2012. Its newest vessel for the river, America, is slightly larger than the line's other ships, with 185 passengers, but it features the same easygoing ambiance and attention to enrichment.

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Let's get one thing out of the way: Most of the passengers on America -- and Mississippi River cruises in general -- are older. How old? We brought our active 74-year-old father on the cruise, and he kept saying that he felt young compared to everyone else. Many cruisers are in their 80s, and some also have mobility challenges that make the boat's elevator, coach tours and wait-serviced meals a boon. While no cruise line wants to be considered a ship for seniors, we think that America and the company should be applauded for providing the demographic with a comfortable option.

The term comfortable could also be applied to the ship's clientele, as a cruise on America is significantly more expensive than a similar experience in Europe; per person costs on the ship are akin to what you'd pay on a luxury line such as Seabourn or Silversea. That's partly because the company has an all-American crew, with college kids making up the steward and deckhand staff. The line also doesn't nickel-and-dime with additional charges -- there's no casino, specialty restaurants or bar onboard, and the line includes a shore excursion in every port. Fares through 2018 also include gratuities, a pre-night hotel stay and transfers.

America has a few quirks that bear mentioning. Passengers pre-order lunch and dinner on a card at breakfast, with half portions available (the staff says advance ordering cuts down on food waste and also allows people with dietary restrictions to be accommodated). The college kids serve as both dining staff and stewards, doing double duty on 12- and 16-week shifts for pay and school credit. We found the fresh-face youth to be enthusiastic and friendly, if a little green; mix-ups at mealtimes happened frequently. And then there's the aforementioned lack of a bar: although the line allows you to bring your own alcohol onboard (and will give you a bottle of complimentary wine after dinner), the setup means that most socializing on the boat ends after evening entertainment at 9:30 p.m. Night owls will be disappointed.

But all that doesn't negate what the line does right. The enrichment on the ship is first-class, with an enthusiastic river historian who could make even the driest subject riveting. The entertainment is on point for the audience, with musical acts and comedians brought in from New Orleans, Vicksburg and other stops along the river. Don't expect much rock music -- this is an audience that better knows the words to "Old Man River" than "Proud Mary" -- and you'll be fine. And the line does a well-attended cocktail hour before dinner with a full bar.

On our sailing, most passengers seemed satisfied with their introduction to the South on America. About 40 percent of the people onboard our cruise signed up for another voyage with the line. We personally loved the spacious cabins, the cute rocking chairs on deck and the friendliness of the crew. As long as you're aware of the demographic onboard and don't mind a less active vacation, America can provide an excellent experience.

Top America Itineraries

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Fellow Passengers

American Cruise Lines says that the average age for all of its passengers is low 60s. But that's not what we observed on our Lower Mississippi River cruise. On that sailing, the average age was easily 75, with many passengers older than that. Because the ship has an elevator and the staff makes accommodations for people with mobility issues, it's an excellent choice for those who feel rigorous travel is beyond them. It's a social ship during the day -- passengers wear nametags at all times and we saw many friend groups forming. Almost all of American Cruise Lines' passengers come from the United States.

America Dress Code

Although a river sailing on American Cruise Lines costs as much as a luxury line at sea, you won't see the same designer duds onboard. We saw very few brand names on our cruise, and little bling. Daytime wear is comfortable for tours, with collared shirts and shorts for men, and capris and T-shirts for women. Nighttime is equally casual, with most women wearing a nice blouse and slacks or a dress, and men wearing collared shirts and slacks. There is no formal night, although some men do wear sports coats at the Captain's Dinner, held once per cruise. The line also recommends that passengers bring comfortable walking shoes, a hat, a rain jacket and a sweater for cool evenings (or to counter the air conditioning).

America Inclusions

American Cruise Lines includes the following in its fares: wine, beer and soda at lunch and dinner; a full bar at the daily cocktail hour; Wi-Fi; and a daily shore excursion. Fares through 2018 include gratuities, a pre-night stay at a hotel and transfers. The onboard currency is the U.S. dollar.

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America Ratings

Public Rooms4.04.4
Fitness Recreation1.03.2
Value For Money4.03.8

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Awards and Recognition

America Member Reviews

Sail Date: May 2019
My wife and I were on your Jazz and Blues Themed Cruise (May 11 - 18, 2019) on the America that went from New Orleans to Memphis.... Read More
Sail Date: Oct 2019
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... Read More
Sail Date: Apr 2019
Lunch would be at 12 noon, just before the America departed Vicksburg at 1 pm. Next stop, Natchez, Mississippi!... Read More
Sail Date: Nov 2018
We are making plans to travel with America Cruise Line again on a different river.... Read More

American Cruise Lines Fleet

American Melody
5 reviews

Providing a healthy dose of Americana on U.S. waterways, American Melody joins American Song, Harmony and Jazz in 2020 offering contemporary design and innovative features.

View All American Melody Cruises
American Star

The 100-passenger American Star is similar to fleetmate American Spirit, though it includes a few more modern touches like flat-screen satellite TVs in all cabins.

American Spirit
3.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Operating exclusively along the U.S. East Coast, crewed entirely by Americans and built on the Chesapeake Bay, American Spirit is an American ship through and through.

Queen of the Mississippi

American Cruise Line's paddlewheel riverboat Queen of the Mississippi combines modern amenities with design elements reminiscent of the days when steamboat paddlewheelers plied the Mississippi River.


American Cruise Lines introduced the 104-passenger Independence in 2010. Some 75 percent of Independence's cabins have balconies. The ship has seven cabins for solo travelers.

Queen of the West

The 120-passenger Queen of the West cruises the Columbia and Snake rivers in the Pacific Northwest. Itineraries include six-, seven- and 14-night sailings from Portland, Oregon.

4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

American Cruise Lines has been sailing the Mississippi since 2012. Its newest vessel, the 185-passenger America, is slightly larger than the line's other ships.

American Pride
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Originally named Queen of the Mississippi, the renamed American Pride paddlewheeler now operates on to the Snake and Columbia rivers on Pacific Northwest itineraries.

American Constellation
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

The made-in-the-USA, 163-passenger American Constellation, the newest ship from American Cruise Lines, set sail in spring 2017.

American Constitution
4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating

American Cruise Lines newest coastal cruiser boasts spacious cabins and eastern U.S. itineraries that you won't find on other lines.

American Song

New modern riverboat from American Cruise Lines will cruise the Mississippi River in 2018 before moving west in 2019.

American Harmony

A contemporary river cruise ship with oceangoing pedigree, American Harmony brings big-ship amenities to the mighty Mississippi.

American Jazz

The third ship in American Cruise Lines' new class of modern riverboat, American Jazz debuts in August 2020, offering contemporary river cruises through America's heartland.

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