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Viking has announced that they will be starting a US riverboat subsidiary in the near future, with modern design ships. They will have to cope with finding a US shipyard to build the ships and they will have to staff them with US workers, but hopefully they know what they're getting into. This has the potential to really raise the ante on luxury in US river cruising.

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I would look into American Queen....they're a bit on the pricey side, but so is ACL...but the reviews from them were more consistent (and on the + side!)...they have one feature that I liked: a HOHO bus that traveled the same route as the ship and you could get on and off as you liked. I don't remember if admissions were included but it looked like a nice boat and the itineraries were virtually the same.

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We are booked on ACL's Historic South and Golden Isles cruise in March as our first really small ship cruise.

 

Of course we do not expect it to compare with a ship 30 times its size and won't cancel the trip based on three bad reviews. There is a Facebook page with more reviews and considerably more information available on these ships.

 

Our group of 4 will all be new to ACL and will report on what we find. Needless to say we are excited about being on a ship with only 100 passengers.

 

Mike:)

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We are booked on ACL's Historic South and Golden Isles cruise in March as our first really small ship cruise.

 

Of course we do not expect it to compare with a ship 30 times its size and won't cancel the trip based on three bad reviews. There is a Facebook page with more reviews and considerably more information available on these ships.

 

Our group of 4 will all be new to ACL and will report on what we find. Needless to say we are excited about being on a ship with only 100 passengers.

 

Mike:)

 

Mike, absolutely go with an open mind and report back. Just because some of us had bad experiences doesn't mean you will. Mine was primarily a food issue.....and hopefully it has improved. I've also heard that the ships on the southern cruises are newer and better run. I'll be interested in your review.

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Viking has announced that they will be starting a US riverboat subsidiary in the near future, with modern design ships. They will have to cope with finding a US shipyard to build the ships and they will have to staff them with US workers, but hopefully they know what they're getting into. This has the potential to really raise the ante on luxury in US river cruising.

 

Whatever this means.... The first announcement was that they start in 2015. So far I haven´t heard that they´ve found a shipyard to build their boats.

 

steamboats

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Whatever this means.... The first announcement was that they start in 2015. So far I haven´t heard that they´ve found a shipyard to build their boats.

 

steamboats

 

Wait till they get a load of the unions, rules, wages, taxes, fees.....these are going to be the most expensive river cruises in the world! But I would take one!

Edited by Hydrokitty

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Marcie,

 

Crusing the US rivers is totally different to the European river cruises. It´s definitely not comparable - neither ships nor service nor inclusiveness.

 

There are only two companies right now:

 

American Cruise Lines

American Queen Steamboat Company

 

Definitely give it a try and do not try to compare!

 

I think AMA once partnered with American Queen Steamboat Company. But anyway it´s a totally different experience.

 

steamboats

 

Thank you. I'll look into this once we get home.

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We are booked on ACL's Historic South and Golden Isles cruise in March as our first really small ship cruise.

 

Of course we do not expect it to compare with a ship 30 times its size and won't cancel the trip based on three bad reviews. There is a Facebook page with more reviews and considerably more information available on these ships.

 

Our group of 4 will all be new to ACL and will report on what we find. Needless to say we are excited about being on a ship with only 100 passengers.

 

Mike:)

 

I just booked the same cruise on the American Star in April - Charleston to Jacksonville. I will be interested in your impressions of the cruise when you return.

Edited by SteelMagnolia9

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I just booked the same cruise on the American Star in April - Charleston to Jacksonville. I will be interested in your impressions of the cruise when you return.

 

FWIW, I just got an email from my TA (tonight) who just returned from a huge cruise convention in FLL and I had asked her to check with other TA's on their passenger's experience with ACL and she reported that she heard nothing but praise for ACL. Being as this is a new experience for us Princess cruisers, I was a little nervous; but am now more relaxed.

 

Mike:)

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I have a question before our upcoming ACL cruise in two weeks.

 

Are there compact refrigerators in the cabins? I can't seem to find that on their webpage.

 

Also, the only thing we have received are our luggage tags. No information as to precruise, ship features, shorexes, etc. Is this normal?

 

Thanks for any responses.

 

Mike:)

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Mike,

 

There was no fridge on the Queen of the Mississippi.

 

Can´t speak of the new America.

 

steamboats

Edited by steamboats

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Update:

 

I just emailed ACL and they asked for the booking number and said there would be a compact fridge in the cabin upon our arrival.

 

That sounds good.

 

Mike:)

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I just booked the same cruise on the American Star in April - Charleston to Jacksonville. I will be interested in your impressions of the cruise when you return.

 

Just returned from the above route onboard the Independence and we had an awesome cruise!

 

I need to get organized and try to write a review. There were two couples in our group and none of us could think of a complaint when asked yesterday.

 

The food was nothing short of outstanding and the best we have had on any cruise. Each table was visited by the chef at every meal checking on our satisfaction. All shoreexes were priced between $30-$50 and we did them all but one and our total checkout bill was $480 for the two of us.

 

If you have questions before I try and write a full review please ask.

 

Mike:)

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Just returned from the above route onboard the Independence and we had an awesome cruise!

 

I need to get organized and try to write a review. There were two couples in our group and none of us could think of a complaint when asked yesterday.

 

The food was nothing short of outstanding and the best we have had on any cruise. Each table was visited by the chef at every meal checking on our satisfaction. All shoreexes were priced between $30-$50 and we did them all but one and our total checkout bill was $480 for the two of us.

 

If you have questions before I try and write a full review please ask.

 

Mike:)

 

I am happy to learn that you had a great time!! I am looking forward to your review. I'm leaving April 23rd on the American Star so, it will be interesting to compare notes on the Independence and the Star.

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We arrived in Charleston two days prior to the cruise departure and stayed at the Hyatt Place historic district on King St. The hotel is only 5 months old and the accommodations were very nice and convenient to shopping and dining in the King St. area. I would caution anyone against ordering any foodstuffs from the “Pickup and Go Menu” in the rooms as these items are all pre-packaged and hardly edible to say the least. There are plenty of local eateries offering a wide selection of lunch and dinner options all along King St. that would be a far better choice and cost about the same. On the other hand, the downstairs daily hot breakfast at the Hyatt was quite good and plentiful.

 

We left for the City Marina on Lockwood Dr around 10 am on

Saturday and were the second to check in. ACL representatives met us at the end of the pier and took all luggage to the ship at that time. They also provided golf cart rides out to the ship for those with limited mobility.

 

Cabins were not available until 11:30 or so and we were directed to the Chesapeake lounge where warm cookies, soft drinks, coffee, water and espresso were available. These were available all throughout the cruise at no charge. Surprisingly enough the ship also furnished free WiFi during our cruise. When we entered our cabin there were nice ACL lanyards, nametags, and room keycards along with a folder of information about our cruise and staff.

 

We were in cabin 212, an AAL balcony cabin adjacent to the mid-ship lounge. We liked our location so much due to the proximity that we booked the same one for our next cruise. The décor was a bit dated looking but the cabin was very clean and the staff maintained that during our cruise. The AC was good as I kept the temp in the high 60’s most of the time.

Each day offered delicious meals in the dining room on the first level and were among the best we have had in our cruise history. Breakfast service began at 7:30 am and choices included both hot and cold items. A table just inside the dinning room featured cold selections such as yogurt and fruit parfaits, smoked salmon and capers with bagels and cream cheese available on request, and various pastries. Hot, cooked-to-order options were provided on menus at each place setting.

 

The reverse side of the breakfast menu featured the day’s selections for lunch and dinner as well as places to indicate whether you’d be dining off-ship for any meals. You would make a selection from offered appetizers and entrees so that the chef would have a better idea of how much of the various dishes to prepare. This was an excellent way to prevent a lot of waste with uneaten foods which ultimately helped the kitchen deliver better-cooked, more flavorful meals.

 

Lunch commenced at 12:30pm. In addition the appetizer and entrée, dessert options were available. If you missed lunch onboard due to an excursion, the staff provided options for boxed lunches with ham or turkey sandwiches that you could take with you. We did this one day and were really surprised at how good the sandwiches were and how much they put into the boxes.

 

The evening’s meals began with a cocktail party at 5:30 in the Chesapeake lounge and featured heavy hors d’eouvres which changed nightly. It’s worth noting that if you have a favorite brand of liquor, you can simply call the home office with your booking number pre-cruise and they’ll have it onboard for you.

 

Dinner followed in the dinning room at 6:30. They started with appetizers and always had a soup option. The soups were outstanding and some of the best any of our four had ever had. Entrees followed and varied from seafood to beef, chicken, pork and lamb. One evening we enjoyed filet so tender you could cut it with your fork. Desserts were good as well and there were about 8 different kinds of ice cream which were always available. The servers were attentive and friendly which made for pleasant meals.

 

We took at least one shore excursion in each port and were pleased with the cost of each. The ship was able to dock in all but 2 ports (Hilton Head and Sapelo Island) and for those we had only a short tender ride to shore and back. Toward the end of the cruise there was a presentation about future cruises with an offer to book while onboard for 15% off and free port charges and taxes ($500). If should be stated that there was no pressure and we were not asked but the one time. We were not hounded to book additional cruises. However, after consulting with our traveling companions, we did book a future cruise to the New England Islands.

 

Being long-time Princess cruisers we were amazed at the free drinks, cocktails and coffees not to mention the free internet. The only downside we could come up with was the lack of laundry as we usually send out clothes a couple of times during a cruise.

 

There were no telephones in the cabins; but since nothing was more than 100 feet from our cabin door none were needed. On the wall next to the desk was a large red emergency call button if anyone were to have need for assistance.

 

All in all, we had a wonderful time and felt the value for the money was very good. The crew were all very friendly and accommodating. They really wanted us to have a great time. Obviously we’d do it again as we booked another cruise with ACL.

 

Please ask if you have questions.

Mike:)

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Glad you had a great cruise!

 

Can you tell me the hours you were in each port (i.e. 8-5, etc.)? Were you overnight in any port?

 

What time did you leave Charleston?

 

Was there anyone on board giving enrichment lectures and if so, what were the topics?

 

Entertainment?

 

Did you stay completely within the Intracoastal Waterway? What was the tendering process like?

 

Thank you!

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We were overnight in each port, which was great!

 

We left Charleston at 1330 on the day of boarding and arrived Beaufort 2130 for the evening.

 

We departed Beaufort Monday morning at 0800 and anchored at Hilton Head at 1130 where we tendered a very short distance in the single tender which held 40 pax.

 

We departed Hilton Head at 1700 Monday evening and arrived at Savannah at 2000 docking right at River St. which was terrific as everything was just steps away. We remained in Savannah all day Tuesday and departed at 0230 Wednesday morning (the only night movement) arriving at Sapelo Island where we anchored at 1230 for a super short tender to the dock there.

 

We departed Sapelo Island at 1830 for Brunswick Ga where we arrived at 2230. We were in Brunswick for the evening and all day and night Thursday departing at 0830 on Friday.

 

We arrived at 1330 Friday and spent the evening docked at Amelia Island/Fernandina Fl where we disembarked the next morning.

 

Yes we had several lectures in the evenings; but alas we did not attend any of them since we were familiar with all of the ports, etc. We played cards, games, etc with our friends in the small midship lounge.

 

There were 2-3 pianists, singers at a few ports but that was the extent of the entertainment.

 

I think we were out of the intracoastal for maybe a couple of hours one day but that was it. The water and sailing were super smooth and some times within 50ft or less of the marshes. The captain said at the Muster drill if we were to have a breach of the hull just go to the top deck and we wouldn't even get wet as the water was only 15ft deep for most of the way.;)

 

Tendering was very easy and orderly boarding the tender at the stern of the ship through the dining room.

 

We booked the New England Islands for our next ACL cruise. I think our Princess cruise onboard the Coral to Alaska in August will be our last big ship cruise.

 

Don't hesitate to ask any further questions.

 

Do us a favor and ask the CC mods to add American Cruise Lines as a topic since they are becoming so popular. Just fyi the ships are built in America, The owners are American and all the staff is American. It was a very pleasant experience.

 

Mike:)

Edited by bhopal21

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We plan to cover the christening of America on May 28 and have someone onboard for the subsequent cruise. So expect some fresh content from CC on American Cruise Lines!

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I looked at their website, and they seem to have a mix of river ships and coastal vessels -- so if Cruise Critic created an area for them where should they put it?

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We plan to cover the christening of America on May 28 and have someone onboard for the subsequent cruise. So expect some fresh content from CC on American Cruise Lines!

 

 

Thank you so much Chris!

 

For those of us that tire of the 3000+ passengers, lines everywhere and being nickeled and dimed at every turn these ships are a real breath of fresh air.

 

Mike:)

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I looked at their website, and they seem to have a mix of river ships and coastal vessels -- so if Cruise Critic created an area for them where should they put it?

 

What about on the main "cruise line forum page" right after AIDA cruises?

 

Mike:)

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