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American Constitution Review

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American Constitution
4.5 / 5.0
33 reviews

A high-quality small-ship experience with excellent food
Frequent turnover in its young crew results in service glitches; regimented meal times limit flexibility
Bottom Line
An ideal option for cruisers seeking an all-American experience in domestic waters




Passenger to Crew


Shore Excursions
Sails To
Sails From
American Cruise Lines Cruise Deals
Jayne Clark
Cruise Critic Contributor

American Constitution Overview

With a growing fleet of coastal cruise and river ships sailing exclusively in domestic waters, it's a given that American Cruise Lines attracts a solidly red-white-and-blue clientele, though a trickle of Europeans and Australians are beginning to join them.

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Its 10th vessel, American Constitution, debuted in April with three 10-night Chesapeake Bay sailings centered on an American Revolution theme. The ship heads for New England in late May, where it'll sail three different itineraries. From late September to late October, it'll take in fall foliage along the Hudson River. From October to December, it returns to the Chesapeake Bay for several sailings.

Like its sister ship, American Constellation, which debuted in 2017, Constitution's interiors have a distinctly Florida vibe. A pale palette of corals, teals and greens; comfy white wicker-style chairs and sofas in the lounges; and blond-wood furnishings in the cabins, evoke a summer beach house ambiance.

The young staff is friendly and eager to please, but has more enthusiasm than experience. Plus, the hustling crew is pressed into multiple roles, so the server passing a tray of bacon-wrapped scallops at the nightly cocktail hour might also be your cabin attendant. The bartender might be a cruise director better versed in coordinating land transportation than in pouring the perfect martini. And so on.

We were on the second sailing of Constitution's American Revolution cruise and, as with most new ships and itineraries, it wasn't without hiccups. For instance, instructions varied on where to pickup a ship-provided free shuttle from Washington, D.C.'s, new District Wharf to the National Mall. (We never did locate it.) At dinner, requests for water refills sometimes went unheeded as servers appeared to wrangle with weightier issues, like what meal belonged where. At one point, the kitchen ran out of milk.

But the staffs' we-aim-to-please attitude helps to overcome shortcomings. Case in point: In a mid-cruise survey, a repeat ACL customer noted the dearth of diet soft drinks in the ship's two lounges. The next day, the desk in her cabin was laden with multiple varieties of diet drinks.

Top American Constitution Itineraries

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Fellow Passengers

Baby boomers and their elders constitute the majority faction on this ship. And it's no wonder the line attracts a mature crowd. The staff is solicitous of customers with mobility issues. Elevators reach all areas but the uppermost Sun Deck. All meals are served in the dining room, so there's no juggling trays from the buffet. Some passengers like the convenience of being able to hop in the car and drive or fly a few hours to a domestic port.

Our fellow passengers were solidly American with good representation from California, Texas and New Jersey. More than a few mentioned a reluctance to travel overseas in politically turbulent times. And many simply wanted to see a part of America they weren't familiar with.

ACL boasts an ardent fan base. About a third of the 151 passengers on our cruise had sailed with the line before, including one couple who was taking their 15th trip with ACL. (The line offers incentives for returning: Once you've sailed on 10 cruises, the 11th is free. And on your fourth cruise, they'll throw in premium shore excursions for free.)

American Constitution Dress Code

The line's advice for onboard attire is the ubiquitous "casual resort attire." The important thing to know: There's never a need to dress up. In fact, it wasn't unusual to see shorts and cropped pants in the dining room, even at dinner. In the evening, many passengers slip into something slightly dressier, but if you want to wear jeans, you won't feel underdressed.

Dress in layers and bring a windbreaker/rain jacket. From the Chesapeake Bay to New England, East Coast weather can be fickle at any time of year.

American Constitution Inclusions

Tips to onboard staff are included. Tips to guides and drivers on shore excursions are at your discretion.

You'll get unlimited soft drinks, juices, tea and coffee (including espresso/cappuccino drinks in the two lounges, though they never seemed to work during our cruise). Gratis wine and beer are offered at lunch and dinner. Plus, there's a nightly cocktail hour with a full bar stocked with premium brands (Maker's Mark bourbon, Tanqueray gin) in both the Chesapeake and Sky lounges. The house wines include multiple varietals in labels that changed throughout the cruise. They're not top-shelf, but they are free-flowing. Beer selections include some local microbrews.

After dinner, the Chesapeake Lounge bar re-opens during the evening program, supplementing alcohol with ice cream treats like root beer floats. Passengers booked in suites get soft drinks, juices, wine and bottled water delivered to their rooms daily.

Of 25 shore excursions offered on our sailing, 11 were gratis. The remaining 14 carried a charge ranging from $15 for transportation to Colonial Williamsburg, to $65 for an excursion to the Wright Brothers National Memorial on North Carolina's Outer Banks. Members of the line's loyalty program, the Eagle Society, get all shore excursions for free beginning with their fourth sailing.

Free postcards are available from the main desk. They'll even stamp them and mail them for you. A limited number of umbrellas are for loan. Wheelchairs, walkers and shower chairs also are available for loan, by pre-arrangement.

Onboard currency is the U.S. dollar. Accounts can be settled by credit card or in cash at the end of the cruise.

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American Constitution Ratings

Public Rooms5.04.2
Fitness Recreation1.02.6
Value For Money3.03.1

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Awards and Recognition

American Constitution Member Reviews

American Constitution
Sail Date: Nov 2019
The Constitution was only a year in services as opposed to the Queen of the West and it was all clean and sparkly.... Read More
American Constitution
Sail Date: Dec 2019
We live within a two-hour drive of Baltimore, and read good reviews of American Cruise Lines and its 2018-built ship Constitution.... Read More
American Constitution
Sail Date: Sep 2019
It's an American built ship, two years old, American Crew, and good American food. So everyone gets paid American wages instead of the low paid crews of the international ships.... Read More
American Constitution
Sail Date: Nov 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.... 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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