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Everything posted by DaveinCharlotte

  1. When we booked our Key West cruise, one of the highlights I was looking forward to was the day-boat excursion over to Dry Tortugas. I knew that this was pretty much an all-day affair, so expected the cost might be close to $100. When 60 days arrived, discovered it would only be via an airplane, and the flight would be around $500 pp!. And you had to meet the pilot at 6:30 am. To my surprise, one couple on the ship actually did sign up and off the ship they went before it was even light. Only to get to the airport, wait another couple of hours, and be told, sorry, too windy today!
  2. I don't know; can't find anything on wikipedia. ACL just calls it "American West, 110 passengers, Inaugurated 1995." That's pretty old, so you're probably right. https://www.americancruiselines.com/usa-riverboat-cruise-ships/paddlewheeler-cruise-ships/american-west
  3. ACL does provide these details, but only after you've booked, and even then not until 60 days before the cruise starts.
  4. I tend to doubt it. ACL already has five -- count 'm five -- ships operating there, two of which are paddlewheelers. Those (Pride, West) however are kind of long in the tooth, so maybe ACL would be keen to replace them/
  5. Yes, the Countess has a diesel-powered paddlewheel and 3 diesel-electric Z-drives, but I'm pretty sure the Duchess does too. I think somebody in an earlier post (TinCan?) said as much, and I can see from our photos that the paddlewheel setups look the same. I can't see how small passenger size would figure in here, since virtually ALL of the ACL ships -- current and future -- are in this same range. Countess and Duchess looks very much the same inside as well as out, so I remain at a loss as to why the Duchess price was so low. I'm thinking there was something wrong with it that ACL thought would be too expensive to repair.
  6. Debbie - Yes, this is across the river, and yes we did walk with luggage (carry-on luggage -- a duffel bag and a backpack each). Google Maps says 0.9 miles from Hampton Inn to ship. We're in our late 70s, and it took us about a half hour. I recall it being fairly flat, sidewalks the whole way, and the pedestrian path on the bridge is separated from the traffic lanes. I think this would also be fine for folks with a roller-bags; no steps that I remember. The Hampton Inn lets you park there for multiple days for the same price per day that applies when you're staying there. I think it was either $8 or $9 per night, less that what the Hyatt charged. Also, there's a nice informal eatery just a block from the Hampton Inn called the Southern Grill.
  7. Our very first cruise with ACL was Great Rivers of Florida. This was in 2014 aboard the first Glory (now resting at the bottom of the sea, RIP, as part of a fish sanctuary). We enjoyed that cruise, and two years ago decided to do it again. This is a relatively laid-back cruise. The little towns of Palatka and Green Cove Springs are places no one ever visits, and the folks there were glad to see us. St. Augustine and Amelia Island are great stops. We liked the fact that the cruise was Jacksonville round trip...we found a nice hotel (Hampton Inn) within walking distance of the riverfront, saving us the expense of the costly Hyatt at the ship's docking site. Just got off the (new) Glory, and can say that the Coastal Cats are excellent ships. Would amend your post to say there are slightly fewer lounges and features... Their main lounge is excellent, with nice views and a sit-down bar. They have the same Skylounge and a cafe. There is a study with computer. There is a designated walking track on the top deck, although it is small. Fast dual elevators to all decks. We decided to do more Coastal Cat cruises...next up is Yankee Seaports in October.
  8. I was on the Glory catamaran this January and we did encounter one passage (Key West to Punta Gorda) with windy choppy seas. The waves would "catch" between the hulls and slam the ship. Could hear and feel the slamming throughout the ship, but there was no pitching, no rolling, nothing "nausea-inducing" at all. This, in contrast with my earlier cruise on the Star, where we left the ICW for one segment and encountered much unpleasant rolling. I thought this part was interesting: "The American Pioneer will follow suit in early November, offering itineraries along the Florida Coast and the Florida Keys. During its maiden voyage, the ship will sail from Jacksonville to St. Petersburg, offering a 14-night cruise that connects Florida’s Atlantic and Gulf Coasts." So this appears to be a replacement for the "Complete Southeast" cruise that debuted early last year but then was cancelled. Maybe the reason for the cancellation was that they discovered that the catamaran couldn't handle the Key Biscayne - Key West transit, but now they hope a ship with traditional bow will?
  9. For the past several years, all of our ACL menus offered three choices. Usually beef, chicken, or seafood. Rarely a vegetarian offering. Appetizer always salad or soup (excellent soups, though small), Entrees well prepared, and served quickly. Great deserts. Good wine selection. Quality did vary somewhat from one ship to another. We've only been on AQV twice, but both times excellent food, better than ACL. Service not quite as fast. Overall, I'd give AQV an "A" and ACL a "B+". Just my take.
  10. OK, thanks for the clarification! As adstz says, "Shuttles are only at the end of the cruise" and I agree this is the general case. But when we were on a cruise a year or two ago, the manager pitching the new cruises told us the Florida Keys cruise would include a pre-cruise shuttle from the Tampa airport to the ship in St Pete. We signed up, only to find that a few months later ACL changed their mind and would not be offering this transfer after all. So I agree...if the precruise info doesn't explicitly say there's a transfer (and it probably won't), this means no shuttle.
  11. We too are planning to arrive in Portland the day before the embarkation. Until we saw your post, we had planned on taking Max rail from our airport hotel to the Holiday Inn the next morning. But if ACL really does run a shuttle, we would go back to the airport and use that. What puzzles me is...sounds like ACL did't tell you about this shuttle ahead of time, you discovered it at the airport. Since you were there a day early, how did you discover that there would be a shuttle the next day? We don't want to return to the airport just to see if ACL is running a shuttle, but on the other hand we don't want to miss out if there actually is one.
  12. Have not been in AAR, but have in the equivalent (i.e., cheapest) category on American Star. We did not find the cabin to be claustrophobic; it was fine. I see in the website pictures that there is a glass door to the balcony (vs full-length sliding glass). But to me this is not a minus, but actually a plus - those sliding glass doors take a lot of effort to open. But we did encounter one drawback - on the lower deck there can be a lot of coming and going in that corridor. The crew uses it when they load, and with doors propped open on both ends it often is breezy there.
  13. My recollection (over almost 20 ACL cruises): There was a golf cart available on every ship at every port. They got a lot of use -- when not ferrying passengers, the crew used them to transport goods arriving at the ship.
  14. Yes, you are correct. The paddlewheel provides 40% of the propulsion; each of the 3 Z-drives provides 20%. (This is in contrast with ACL, whose paddlewheels are just for show.)
  15. Am booked on Harmony departing Aug 1. Am expecting the ship to depart from Hayden Island, right next to the Holiday Inn. What is the reference to 121 Everett? Doesn't sound right. I'm guessing we bring out luggage down to the lobby, the crew transfers the luggage to the ship, and we do indeed just walk across. You're probably right about the taxi from the airport, but I haven't investigated that (we are planning to take the MAX red line from PDX to downtown, then the MAX yellow line to the Expo center by Hayden Island, and walk to the Holiday Inn from there). Hopefully somebody who's already done this will chip in...
  16. Not sure I follow. What makes American Queen/American Empress viable but Countess and Duchess not? Our cruises on the latter were pretty full.
  17. I'll bet that's it. I remember that when they first starting using that ship in Alaska, they also offered a once-in-the-spring and once-in-the-fall cruise between San Diego and Central America.
  18. Yes, I have noticed a lot more ACL advertising, but starting a number of months ago, not just now. This month I opened my AARP magazine, and first thing I see is a 2-page ad for cruises on the southeast coast, highlighting their new Complete Southeast cruise. The irony: I signed up for the Complete Southeast cruise early January, and this week they just cancelled it (not just mine, but all Complete Southeast cruises).
  19. We were on the Glory several weeks ago. At that time ACL had already cancelled all the 2024 Complete Southeast cruises, but the 2025 (and 2026) cruises were still on the books. We signed up on board for the late 2025 cruise. Got home to discover no cruise on our online account. Called, and were told 2025 cruises were being cancelled, but could switch over to 2026. Before we could decide whether to do that, 2026 disappeared too. I tend to agree with your thought that there is an issue with the southeast part of Florida - no ICW there, and maybe the Gulf Stream current makes for rough sailing. We had one rough day while on the Glory, and while I did think the catamaran fore-hulls made for more stability, the waves would catch between the hulls with much slamming and shuddering.
  20. New itineraries for the Mississippi, removal of others. Just noticed the Complete Southeast has been withdrawn, and no more Christmas program on the Chesapeake. Had been thinking maybe ACL was getting a little too aggressive building ships, but with the demise of AQV, maybe a good idea after all. Am wondering what impact AQV's closing will have on ACL. Will there be a rush of AQV cruisers coming over, with cabin prices going higher and cabin availability going lower?
  21. OK, I bet that's it. In further thinking about exactly where ACL docks at each of these major ports, I see that in each case they do not dock where the big cruise ships dock, but at a separate pier nearby.
  22. I'm wondering, though, why this problem doesn't crop up at ACL's major ports, where I would think there would be a union presence. For example, New York City, Boston, New Orleans.
  23. Did not know that. Do you know which Union the crew is in?
  24. I assume you mean Charleston to Fernandina Beach. Yes, this is mostly Intercoastal Waterway, and, in my opinion, one of the most scenic on the East Coast. No rough water. However, the could still be a remote possibility you'd see open ocean. On our cruise from Baltimore to Jacksonville on the Star two years ago, the captain did go out, and yes, it was rough. Note this was on the Morehead City NC to Charleston leg, which is not on your itinerary. I posted about this Jan 6, 2022, "Inland Passage aboard the Star -- An Adventure on the High Seas." Go back about 4 pages below; my apologies for not knowing how to post a link to this. But this, I'm sure, was an isolated incident, and your odds of encountering such are virtually zero. You will enjoy this cruise!
  25. Waking up this old thread to report what our Cruise Director on Glory said about this. He seemed knowledgeable about goings-on at the home office. He held a Q&A and someone asked him about this issue. His response: Problem # 1 was with the Longshoremen union at San Francisco. They complained having the ACL deckhands transfer luggage between the ship and dock competed with them, and insisted ACL pay them hundreds of dollars per passenger. So ACL abandoned San Francisco and shifted to Sacramento. Problem # 2 was with the California equivalent of the EPA. Despite American Jazz's modern waste treatment equipment, they said that wasn't good enough and the ship could not continue to sail anywhere in the Bay area. At that point, ACL threw in the towel.
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