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About SteelMagnolia9

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    Travel, Music, Theatre, Art

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  1. I’m going on the Hudson River cruise at the end of this month with a friend and will be doing a review on the cruise. I’ll post it sometime the second week in November.
  2. I was in an inside cabin for 14 days on the Sapphire Princess (Baltic Cruise) in May. I was on the Lido (pool) deck and absolutely loved my cabin, service and location. Easy access to grab a drink or some food and just a few steps to the outside deck for better-than-balcony views when we were cruising or in port.
  3. Wishing you a wonderful trip and looking forward to your review.
  4. There are a variety of snacks available in the lounges. Also soda, juices, water. Just help yourself. It’s regularly replenished. Ice is available and cups. Warm cookies are brought out at 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. every day. Again, help yourself, but they go fast! There’s an Early Riser’s Breakfast in the lounges around 6:30 a.m. You can get coffee and breakfast pastries to eat there or take back to your cabin. There is a Cocktail hour starting at 5:30 p.m. with open bar. Soft drinks available. Hot and cold appetizers are available and plentiful. In the evening, during entertainment, there is popcorn, root beer floats and sundaes available and brought to your seat by some servers. Just raise your hand when you see them coming around. I recall it was 30-35 mins. to the airport from the time we departed in the buses to the Jax airport when I was on the Great Rivers of Florida cruise.
  5. Yes, feel free to use the same format. I will look forward to learning about the American Harmony and your suite experience.
  6. NRayH, If you decide to go, the last cruise of the season might be a better choice for you for the weather. I was on the first cruise of the season, with three more to follow. I hope you have an enjoyable Northwest Pioneers Cruise next month.
  7. Nashville, Tennessee We arrived in Nashville, Tennessee late in the evening on Thursday, September 12, 2019. We had a full day in port on Friday, September 13, 2019. Ryman Auditorium: Learn the fascinating story of the Ryman Auditorium with a backstage guided tour! Constructed in 1880, Thomas G. Ryman built this theater, originally named the Union Gospel Tabernacle, for evangelist Reverend Sam Jones so that his inspiring words could be clearly heard by all. After Ryman's passing in 1904, the theater name was changed to Ryman Auditorium to honor the man who created the historic landmark. Today, the Ryman Auditorium is associated with country music legends and inspiring artists striving to make a name for themselves. $30 Nashville Experience: Enjoy a narrated tour of Historic Downtown Nashville. Sites will include the famous Country Music Hall of Fame Museum, Honky Tonk Row, Bicentennial Park and State Capitol. Traveling west of the city, visit the only full size replica of the Parthenon, nicknamed "The Athens of the South". This tour is a perfect way to experience the best that Nashville has to offer. Complementary Grand Ole Opry Evening Show: End your cruise enjoying live country music at the Grand Ole Opry. The evening show will begin at 7:00 p.m. with up-and-coming country artists as well as musical groups that have been Opry members for years. This is truly country music at it's best! Complementary I did not go on any of the excursions as I have family who live in Nashville and have been to Nashville many times and have seen all of the sights. All of the excursions would be worthwhile. The Ryman Auditorium was the performance venue for the Grand Ole Opry beginning in 1943 until the Opry changed venues in the early 1970's. If you are into music, The Ryman should be a 'must see'. I also recommend the Grand Ole Opry, even if you are not a country music fan, as it is a part of americana and just something you should experience once. Dining times were adjusted so that passengers could go on all three excursions, if interested. The Ryman Auditorium excursion departed at 8:45 a.m., Nashville Experience at 1:30 p.m. and Grand Ole Opry Evening Show at 5:45 p.m. If you choose not to go on one or more of the excursions, it is a very short walk to the foot of Lower Broadway from the dock. Lower Broadway is where you will find the honky tonks and live country music, shops, restaurants and other tourist attractions. I walked around Lower Broadway on Friday afternoon. I disembarked the QOM early, at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, as I had plans to visit with family over the weekend. A deckhand assisted me with getting my luggage down the gangway. Disembarkation on Saturday, September 14, 2019 was scheduled for 8:00 a.m. There was complementary bus transportation to the Nashville airport at 8:30 a.m. If you have been on a Cumberland River Cruise, please feel free to add your comments and experiences.
  8. Clarksville, Tennessee We docked in Clarksville, Tennessee (pop. approx. 150,000) around noon on Wednesday, September 11, 2019 and departed on Thursday, September 12, 2019 at noon. Fort Defiance: Fort Defiance was originally a central hub for trading goods and settlement for both the American Indians and white settlers beginning in the late 18th century. During the Civil War, the fort became a base for the Confederate Troops. But in 1862, the fort was captured by Union Troops and stayed under their command for the remainder of the war. The grounds have been well maintained and preserved since the war ended, so you will truly take a step back in time. Complementary I went on this excursion to the Fort Defiance Civil War Park and Interpretive Center. As the interpretive center is small, we were divided into two groups, departing at 2:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. on September 11th. I was assigned to the 3:30 p.m. group. Fort Defiance was a defensive Confederate fort to control the Cumberland River approach to Clarksville. After the Confederates surrendered at Fort Donelson, the Union came up the Cumberland River on gunboats a few days later and found a white flag flying over a deserted Fort Defiance. The Union took control of the fort and ultimately, Clarksville. Once at the interpretive center, we were divided into two groups, to see a film and hear a presentation by a docent. The docent said the presentation would be outside on the grounds where the fort once stood; however, it was 95 degrees so the presentation was in the interpretive center. My group watched the film first. I decided to skip the presentation in the interpretive center as I wanted to go outside on the grounds (I'm from the southern U.S. and used to the heat). I quickly walked the grounds where the fort stood and went back inside and looked at the exhibits. We only had 45 minutes once we arrived at Fort Defiance which in my opinion was not enough time. You can see Clarksville from an overlook outside the interpretive center and there is also a .8 mile walking trail with picnic facilities. They have living history events on the grounds and the location and grounds lends itself to those types of events. Customs House Museum and Cultural Center: Located in the heart of downtown Clarksville, the museum offers a wide array of exhibits, both temporary and permanent, with such varied subject matter that each guest is sure to find something of interest. Museum curator Sue Lewis will offer guests an introduction to the space and will be available to answer questions. Guests can independently explore permanent exhibits such as Memory Lane and The Bubble Cave. I signed on to this excursion. It departed at 9:00 a.m. on September 12th. It was constructed in 1898 as a post office/customs house and is on the National Register of Historic Places. A docent provided an overview of the museum when we arrived and there was ample time for the visit. A map was provided. It has galleries with fine art, photography, sports memorabilia (my favorite), history, a model railroad and children's exhibits. I enjoyed the museum and it has a very nice gift shop. If you choose not to go on the excursions, there really isn't much of interest within walking distance from the dock. I did speak to a couple of passengers who did not go on the museum excursion and instead walked over to the area of the museum in the city on their own (it is not close to the dock). Next: Nashville, Tennessee
  9. Dover, Tennessee We arrived at Dover, Tennessee (pop. approx. 1400) in early afternoon on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 and departed at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 11, 2019. Fort Donelson National Military Park: Fort Donelson, once referred to as the Gateway to the Confederate Heartland, was the site of an important Union victory. Begin at the Visitors Center for an introductory film. Continue traveling throughout Fort Donelson viewing the Surrender Site, National Cemetery, and learning about the military park where the pivotal battle was fought on land and water. Complementary This is the only shore excursion offered in this port. The Cumberland River played a role in the Civil War and there is alot of its history along the river. I signed on to this excursion. Fort Donelson was the site of the Battle of Fort Donelson, February 11th-16th, 1862. The Union capture of the Confederate fort near the Tennessee-Kentucky border opened the Cumberland River down to Nashville, which was a major rail hub and one of the most important Confederate arms manufacturing centers. Nashville was developed into a huge supply depot for the western Union armies. One of the interesting sites in the military park is the Dover Hotel. It was formerly a hotel built to accommodate riverboat travelers and served as the Confederate Headquarters at Fort Donelson during the battle. It was here Confederate General Simon Buckner surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant on February 16, 1862. They had both been friends and classmates at West Point. Grant insisted on an unconditional surrender - approx. 13,000 Confederate soldiers were taken as prisoners of war - and it was here that Grant gained the nickname Ulysses "Unconditional Surrender" Grant. Our guide was from the local area and was very knowledgeable. If you choose not to go on the excursion, you can walk to the town, but it is not close to the dock. We drove through the town on the way to the military park and I did not walk into town after we returned from the excursion. There were some local people from the town who had set up and were selling their wares under a shelter at the dock. Next: Clarksville, Tennessee
  10. Paducah, Kentucky We arrived in Paducah, Kentucky (pop. approx. 25,000) on Monday morning, September 9, 2019. This was my favorite port on this cruise. The city has been designated as an UNESCO creative city and there's a vibrant arts community here. Paducah City Excursion and National Quilt Museum: Discover the rich and colorful history of Paducah with a local guide who will present the city in three parts. There will be time to enjoy a downtown tour featuring sites of historical significance. Drive through the thriving riverfront where you will view more than 50 life-sized panoramic murals depicting Paducah's rich history. A stop will be made at the highlight of Quilt City, USA - the National Quilt Museum, a treat for crafters and non-crafters alike. $45 I signed on to this excursion. It departed at 9:00 a.m. and it is a bus tour of the city with a stop at the National Quilt Museum. Our guide was a life-long resident and with the city's vistors bureau. It was a very good introduction to the city and he was very informative. The National Quilt Museum is a 'must see' here. The quilts are truly works of art and the museum is self-guided. I recommend taking this excursion in the morning and then taking the shuttle in the afternoon to places you'd like to explore further. River Discovery Center: Learn all about the Ohio River on this self-guided visit. State of the art, interactive exhibits tell the story of the four rivers region. Explore the working lock and dam model, the build-a-river exhibit, the dredging exhibit and a pilothouse simulator where you can experience what it is like to captain your own boat. $10 This is a self-guided tour of the River Discovery Center. It is open between 10:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. and you arrive at your leisure. It is within walking distance from the dock. I did not visit it and cannot provide any other information. Paducah Shuttle: Explore downtown Paducah on your own. Take time for shopping and strolling through the town. Complementary This shuttle was a bus that picked up at the dock, running from 2:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., and made several stops around the city, running every 30 minutes in a loop. It did stop at the National Quilt Museum so if you do not go on the city excursion in the morning, you can take the shuttle to the museum and pay the entrance fee to go in. There were maps provided with points of interest and the stops. I did take the shuttle and got off in the Lower Town Arts District, walked around and then visited the Lloyd Tilghman House and Civil War Museum. It was the home of Lloyd Tilghman, a Confederate General, who moved to Paducah to oversee the building of the railroad in the area. He was a West Point graduate and was killed in the Civil War in 1863. The home is owned by the Sons of Confederate Veterans and is on the National Register of Historic Places. I and another woman from the QOM spent an hour with the docent who explained the history of the Tilghman family and Kentucky's role in the Civil War. Mint Julep punch and cookies were being served to museum guests. After I left the museum, I missed the shuttle as I was at the wrong location on the street as I misread the map (I saw the bus go by), so I walked back to the dock which was 4 or 5 blocks as I did not want to wait for the bus to make another loop. I decided to walk along the floodwall and look closer at the beautiful murals that I saw earlier from the bus on the city excursion in the morning. For those who have cruised with ACL three or more times, the Paducah City Excursion and National Quilt Museum and River Discovery Center were complementary. This is a cruise line loyalty benefit for those passengers on Premium excursions on all of ACL' s cruises. Next: Dover, Tennessee
  11. Ports and Shore Excursions (my experiences, descriptions and prices): Cape Girardeau, Missouri We arrived in Cape Girardeau, Missouri (pop. approx. 40,000) at 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, September 8, 2019 and departed at 12:30 p.m. The descriptions of the shore excursions are from the information received onboard. I have included my personal comments in bold after the descriptions. Cape Girardeau Experience: Join a local guide on a narrated bus tour of Cape Girardeau and travel to the Crisp Museum, a part of the River Campus of Southeast Missouri State University. The Museum features fine art exhibitions, prehistoric Native American artifacts, one of the largest collections of conch shell effigies in North America, and interpretive regional history displays. Upon arrival, watch a wonderful introductory film, followed by a museum tour where you will view a life sized replica of a Native American dwelling. Complementary This is the only shore excursion offered in this port. It is a worthwhile excursion that will make the best use of your time and includes more than the Crisp Museum visit. The museum tour is self-guided. Also included in the excursion is a city tour, a visit to The Glenn House, a Victorian home established in 1883 and The Red House, a replica of a trading post established by the city's founder, Louis Lorimier, a French-Canadian. The excursion departed at 9:00 a.m. If you choose not to go on the excursion, you can walk into town from the dock to some of the shops or walk along the floodwall and look at the murals. Next: Paducah, Kentucky
  12. I missed mentioning under Dining that room service is available for breakfast. There is also an Early Risers Breakfast beginning at 6:30 a.m. in both the Paddlewheel (Deck 2) and Sky Lounges (Deck 4) with coffee, juice and an assortment of breakfast pastries. Entertainment and Activities & Riverlorian/Enrichment: Entertainment and Activities: The evening entertainment was held in the Magnolia Lounge and with one exception was excellent. It was all good fun. An Evening Bar begins at 8:00 p.m. in the Magnolia Lounge and is open through the conclusion of the entertainment. There is also popcorn, root beer floats and sundaes available and served at your seat for those interested. ' On this cruise, there were quite a few varied activities. If you chose not to go in to a port, there was an activity available if you stayed onboard. There were art classes every day with an artist onboard which were held in the Sky Lounge. I did not participate, but they were very popular with many passengers participating and I heard all positive comments about the classes. The sessions included "Watercolor Greeting Cards", "Alcohol Ink on Tile and Yupo Paper", "Rhododendron on Aged Sheet Music", "Alcohol Ink Jewelry", "Native American Mandela" and "Nashville Postcard". The Cruise Director was well organized and each evening before entertainment reviewed the next day's events with the passengers in the Magnolia Lounge. Riverlorian/Enrichment: The Riverlorian (onboard lecturer/presenter) was Rachel Perkins. She was personable, approachable and knowledgeable. I went to four of her presentations and they were all interesting. This was the only week she was scheduled to be onboard the Cumberland River Cruise. Next: Ports and Shore Excursions
  13. Dining and Wi-Fi Dining: The food on QOM was outstanding. Probably the best I've had to date on all of my ACL cruises. The service in the dining room needs improvement. At times it was chaotic and many times it was very slow. One lunch, I was seated at 12:00 p.m. and did not receive my entree until 1:25 p.m. Then, at other times, the service was perfect. It was consistently inconsistent. There was a cocktail hour with open bar and hors d'oeurves (5:30 p.m.- 7:00 p.m.) that runs concurrently with the dinner service (5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.). Diners coming in at different times during the dinner service and joining tables with passengers who are at a later point in their meal contributed to the service issues. There was someone from the corporate office that came onboard mid-way through the cruise and a server told me there was a meeting held with staff about the service in the dining room. Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi is included. It worked well at times and not so well at other times. It was better when we were docked in ports than when we were cruising on the rivers. Next: Entertainment and Actvities & Riverlorian/Enrichment
  14. A Disappointing Start To The Cruise: Embarkation: Instructions in the Welcome Packet requested that all luggage be ready inside your room at 7:45 a.m. for pickup by the bell staff. Luggage was then delivered directly to your cabin. Passengers were advised to meet in the Lafayette and Lasalle Room, a large meeting room, at 9:45 a.m. The Cruise Director was present and gave some preliminary instructions and we then were checked in from a passenger list as we boarded the buses which departed at 10:15 a.m. for the QOM. A couple of weeks prior to the cruise, I received an email from ACL indicating that our embarkation port was changed to Alton, IIlinois. It proved to be a positive revision in the schedule as when we cruised the Mississippi River that afternoon we went past St. Louis on the river and I was able to get some excellent photos from the upper deck of the QOM of the Arch with the Old St. Louis Courthouse in the background. We had an entertaining sightseeing trip by our bus driver on the way to the dock. When we boarded, our names were again checked off a list by staff and we were told our cabins were ready. There was also a reception in the Magnolia Lounge with hors d'oeuvres and beverages upon boarding. Cabin: I decided to drop off my carry-on bag to my cabin before going to the reception. I entered my cabin and was greeted with a musty, sweet, chemical odor that was very strong. I immediately knew there was a problem in my cabin. I thought at first it was from cleaning products, but then I was able to determine that the odor was coming from the A/C. I have no allergies and my nose began to run for the short time I was in the cabin and my throat felt scratchy. I sought out the Hotel Director and reported it and he informed me that maintenance would be sent to my room to check on it. Over the course of two full days, I had to continually stay on top of this and seek out the Hotel Director multiple times to find out what was going on and when this was going to be resolved. In the meantime, I stayed out of my cabin as much as possible the first two days. At the end of the second day, it was resolved and there were no further issues with the odor coming from the A/C. I did feel this was a major deficiency both in maintenance and service and stated so on the post-cruise survey I received. It was a disappointing start to my trip. I was in one of the solo cabins. Aside from the above issue, there was a rip in the carpet in one corner of the room. The desk lamp was difficult to turn off and on as the switch to turn it on and off seemed like it was almost stripped. The room was 230 sq. ft. with a balcony. The bathroom was more spacious than one would find on an ocean cruise ship. My cabin was kept very clean and a deckhand swept and cleaned my balcony area on at least one occasion during the cruise. Next: Dining and Wi-Fi
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