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SteelMagnolia9

Mini-Review-Hudson River Cruise-October 26th-November 2nd, 2019

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I am starting this thread for my review of my Hudson River Cruise, October 26th-November 2nd, 2019. I had promised to start it earlier this month, but some other commitments took priority. It was a beautiful cruise with gorgeous fall foliage. If you were on this cruise or another Hudson River Cruise, I invite you to add your own comments and critiques to my review.
 

Next: Pre-Cruise in New York City

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Pre-Cruise in New York City:

 

I left for New York City on Thursday, October 24, 2019. I had a direct and uneventful flight to LaGuardia (LGA) Airport. I had made a reservation for the SuperShuttle, a shared ride service to transport me from the airport to my hotel, Crowne Plaza Times Square Manhattan. The SuperShuttle was a reasonable $21.31. After retrieving my bag from the carousel, I went to the Welcome Center in the baggage claim area where I had been instructed to check in for my ride. I did have to wait approximately 45 minutes for my ride to arrive and a staff member at the Welcome Center announced when the shuttle arrived, so I did not have to wait outside. I should note that there is currently construction going on at the airport and if you arrive in terminals C or D, you cannot get a taxi directly from these terminals and have to board a bus for a 15 minute ride to another location to get a taxi, Uber or Lyft. I believe the situation with obtaining a taxi, Uber or Lyft from terminals C and D is going to be a permanent change at LGA; however, shared ride services such as SuperShuttle were able to pick up directly at these terminals. I suggest checking the LGA website for updated information if you are arriving at that airport.

 

Once on the SuperShuttle, I was the second passenger to be dropped off. I did not care for the driver's driving or attitude toward the passengers in his care. I was in the very front seat next to the driver. At one point, we almost struck the side of a produce truck and everyone gasped. The driver stated to all of us "They pay me for my knowledge of New York City, not for the way I drive." Welcome to New York City!

 

I was traveling with a friend who was flying in from another part of the country and we met at the hotel. The Crowne Plaza Times Square Manhatten is centrally located in the theatre district of New York City and was our home for two nights. It is within walking distance of most of the Broadway theaters. There is included wi-fi in the hotel. We also received two $20 vouchers for food and two drink coupons included with our stay.  I'm an IHG member and received some additional amenities. 

 

I have been to New York City several times and have seen all of the major sites. My plan was to see two shows and to visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and catch up with my friend before the cruise. The first evening we saw "Dear Evan Hansen" at the Music Box Theatre. My friend, before arriving at the hotel, went by the box office and was able to obtain rush tickets in the Mezzanine for $69 each. Yay her!  Fantastic musical!

 

Friday, October 25th, I visited the 9/11 Memorial & Museum and was there 3 1/2 hours. It's a very moving experience. There are thousands of artifacts, images and remembrances of that day. It's a sacred place and one all Americans should visit once. I purchased a ticket in advance online for general admission at 10:00 a.m. and it was $28.00. If you are planning to visit the museum, I recommend you purchase an advance ticket online to avoid standing in a long line at the museum. Ticket in hand, I walked right in to the museum at my designated entrance time.  I invested an additional $8.00 when I arrived for an audio guide. I highly recommend the audio guide to get the most out of your visit to the museum (skip the guided tours).  If you are only visiting the memorial which is outside the museum and includes the twin reflecting pools, there is no charge. One of the excursions offered by American Cruise Lines visits the memorial (but not the museum) and I'll share information about that excursion later in my review.

 

The second evening, I went to see the Disney musical "Frozen" at the St. James Theatre. I had purchased a ticket in advance and was in Row D in the Orchestra. No rush ticket price that night!  Loved it and it even "snowed" at the end in my section of the theater. Disney's musicals are always spectacular!

 

Next: Embarkation

 

 

Edited by SteelMagnolia9

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Embarkation:

 

We took a taxi from the hotel to the designated pier in the information sent to us pre-cruise. The mailed booklet containing the address accidentally went out in my recycling after my return home, so I am unable to share the address information for the pier in this review. You will, however, receive it in advance with plenty of time to make your plans. It also contained two suggested hotels that are close to the pier that you may want to consider if you are just spending one night in the city before the cruise and not planning on any sightseeing. 

 

Upon arrival at the pier, there were complementary pedi-cabs that took us directly to the ship, the American Constitution. The American Constitution is one of American Cruise Lines (ACL) newer ships (2018). It's beautiful and has a passenger capacity of 175. We were on the last cruise of the season on the Hudson River and only had 105 passengers. Nice! Deck hands from the ship took our bags when we arrived in our taxi and they were brought to our cabin. There was a check-in table near the gangway and after checking in, we proceeded to the Chesapeake Lounge on Deck 3 where there was a Welcome Reception for the passengers.

 

Next: Cabin and Wi-Fi (WHY O WHY?)

Edited by SteelMagnolia9

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Cabin and Wi-Fi (WHY O WHY?):

 

Cabin

We were in a balcony cabin, Deck 2 (category AAL). The cabin was 350 sq. ft. and we were very comfortable there. Our cabin was kept very clean by the room stewards.

 

Wi-Fi

HORRIBLE!! I was unable to connect to wi-fi most of the time. My friend and other passengers had the same issue. I was unable to get online using the ship computers to check in to my departing flight and print a boarding pass. I checked in on my phone and obtained a mobile boarding pass. Not my preference. Plan on using your data or accessing wi-fi on shore if you are on this ship. 

 

NEXT: Dining

 

Edited by SteelMagnolia9

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After reviewing some of my additional notes from the cruise, I can confirm that we embarked and disembarked at Pier 36 in New York City, 299 South Street 10002.

 

Dining:

 

The food was excellent. The service by the dining room staff during all of my meals was fast and efficient, the best of all of my ACL cruises. Dining is open seating and you are free to arrive at any time during the posted hours and sit with whomever or wherever you wish in the dining room. I'm including the usual times for the meals on the ship, although it was slightly altered on a day or two based on excursion departures.

 

Early Risers Breakfast - 6:30 a.m. - Chesapeake (Deck 3) & Sky Lounges (Deck 5) - Coffee, Tea, Juices and Breakfast Pastries.

Breakfast - 7:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. - Main Dining Room, Deck 1.

Lunch - 12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. -  Main Dining Room.

Back Porch Café - 11:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. - Outside of the Sky Lounge - Pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, ice cream treats and more. Plenty of seating available in the Sky Lounge.

Cocktails - 5:30 p.m - 7:00 p.m. - Chesapeake Lounge - Adult beverages, soft drinks and hot/cold hors d'oeuvres. Note: All alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are complementary on the ship.

Dinner -  5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. - Main Dining Room.

Late Bar - 8:00 p.m. - Chesapeake Lounge.

 

Next: Entertainment, Activities and Enrichment

 

Edited by SteelMagnolia9

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Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah! 
 

I have been away due to some issues with my eyes (inflammation in both) that unexpectedly arose and I could not be at the computer screen or reading for some time. It’s resolved now and I will be back after the holidays to finish my review. 

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So sorry to hear that. Didn’t mean to push you — just excited about our trip even though it’s months away.

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Entertainment, Activities and Enrichment:

 

Entertainment:

 

The entertainment on board was...entertaining!

The Gin Fizz Trio performed a variety of musical selections at the Welcome Aboard Reception.

Evening Performers included:

Carolyn Benson, "Anthem", a patriotic salute with a combination of patriotic songs and some rock 'n roll;

The Stillwell Project, a musical duo, who sang and took requests from the audience;

Joe Bronzi, a comedian;

Perry Beekman Duo, jazzy standards;

Kenny Hendricks, singer/piano player;

Victory Belles, music of the 1940's (channeling the Andrews Sisters/WWII Big Band Music) and

Robert & Stephanie Yonskie, "Some Enchanted Evening", Broadway Show Tunes.

 

My friend and I went to all of the shows. If Robert & Stephanie Yonskie, "Some Enchanted Evening" are onboard your cruise, if you only go to one show, go to this one. Fabulous!

 

Next: Activities

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Well, that’s more entertainment than we’ve had on our river cruises abroad. Sounds good.

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Activities:

 

This particular cruise was designated not only as a Fall Foliage Cruise, but also as an Art Immersion Cruise. There were two resident artists onboard who conducted art classes. The classes included:

 

Colorful Catskill Mountains, a watercolor class;

Hudson River Multimedia Color Immersion, experimenting with different medias;

Fall Leaves Greeting Cards, making a fall foliage greeting card. My friend went to this session and enjoyed this class;

Sunrise on the Water, a watercolor class;

Jump Into The Hudson: Group Project, add your creation to the American Constitution's own version of the Hudson River School of Art, beer and wine provided at the class;

Pumpkin Painting, paint a pumpkin;

Beautiful Hudson Valley, a watercolor class;

Open Studio Afternoon, open art studio time and

New York City Skyline, paint your own rendition of the New York City Skyline as you sail back to the city.

 

I did not attend any of the art classes but there was positive feedback from those who attended and the classes were very popular.

 

Other activities offered onboard included:

Tying The Knot, learn to tie various knots led by one of the Junior Mates;

Pilot House Tours;

Take A Bite Out Of The Big Apple, Executive Chef had an apple demonstration discussing the flavor profiles of various apples and then offered a sampling of each, and

Scavenger Scare, trick or treating scavenger hunt, this was on Halloween Day.

 

Next: Enrichment

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Enrichment:

 

The onboard lecturer (Dale Blanshan) and one of the resident artists held enrichment lectures at various times during the cruise. These included:

 

Port Discussions (Dale);

The Hudson River School of Art (Dale);

The Backstory of Hudson River Painters (artist Crista);

Mathew Brady: The Father of Photojournalism? (Dale), and

The Statue of Liberty (Dale).

 

I attended two port discussions and The Hudson River School of Art lecture (which I highly recommend if offered on your cruise as it will be useful background information for some of the shore excursions you may decide to join).

 

The Cruise Director was Chelsea Smith. She was outstanding, very visible on the ship, helpful and engaged with the passengers.

 

Next: Ports and Shore Excursions

 

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Posted (edited)

Ports and Shore Excursions (my experiences, descriptions and prices):

 

On this cruise, you will be contacted in advance of departure to select your shore excursions. This was different from other cruises that I have been on with ACL where we selected and signed on to our shore excursions the afternoon we boarded. If you do not select your shore excursions in advance of departure on this cruise, you will still have the opportunity to sign on to shore excursions the afternoon of embarkation if there is still space available. My recommendation is to sign on in advance of the cruise for any shore excursions you definitely want to join to avoid being shut out or put on a waitlist onboard. 

 

The descriptions of the shore excursions are from the information I received onboard. I have included my personal comments in bold after the descriptions.

 

Catskill, New York

 

We arrived in Catskill, New York (pop. approx. 11, 300) at 1:30 a.m. on Sunday, October 27, 2019 and departed at 2:00 p.m. that day.

 

Catskill Active:

Hudson River Skywalk provides panoramic views from hundreds of feet in the air and is one of two pedestrian crossings over the Hudson River. As you look towards the mountains, see if you can identify the features of Rip Van Winkle sleeping. The walkway is two miles round trip.

Kaaterskill Falls Viewing Platform: Witness the highest two-tiered cascading waterfall in New York and one of America's oldest tourist attractions. It has been a featured topic of prominent books, essays, poems and paintings of the early 19th century.

$35.00

 

This excursion departed at 9:15 a.m. It was pouring rain and those who chose not to go due to the rain were offered a refund. The excursion did go forward. I spoke to one of the participants who told me it was not a good experience in the rain.

 

Olana State Historic Site:

Enjoy a special visit to the magnificent Persian-style home of one of the most influential Hudson River School painters, Frederic Church. Church designed his home and the surrounding picturesque landscape to take full advantage of the magnificent views of the Catskill Mountains and the river that inspired a generation of artists. Today, you can tour the house and stroll the grounds of the site hailed by many as the Queen of the Hudson Valley estates.

$45.00

 

This excursion departed at 9:45 a.m. Yes, it was pouring rain all day.  Frederic Church was a landscape painter, a financial success and one of the most famous painters in the U.S. in his time. He was one of the most influential Hudson River School painters. My friend and I enjoyed the docent led tour of the home, but were unable to enjoy all that the vistas and grounds had to offer due to the rain (and from where Frederic Church drew much of his inspiration). Despite the rain, my friend and I really enjoyed this excursion and I would recommend it. It's very beautiful and scenic.

 

Thomas Cole National Historic Site:

A visit to the Thomas Cole National Historic Site provides entry into the world of the man who became the father of American landscape painting and founder of the Hudson River School of Art. Tour the 1815 Federal yellow-brick Main House and visit the historic rooms where the Cole family lived, including the West Parlor where Thomas Cole was married and the upstairs rooms where his children were born and where Cole died in 1848.

$45.00

 

This excursion was cancelled on the evening of embarkation due to lack of interest. I heard 5 or less had signed on to this excursion. We did drive by the house on the way to and from the Olana State Historic Site.

 

There was also another shore excursion, Hunter Mountain Scenic Sky Ride, which was on the shore excursion list, but not available on my cruise as it had already closed for the season. It may be available on yours. Enjoy a relaxing journey on the ski lift at Hunter Mountain Resort. This ride features a six-passenger chairlift to the top of the 3,200' high summit with breathtaking views of the Great Northern Catskills and beyond. $35.00

 

Next: Albany, New York

Edited by SteelMagnolia9

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Albany, New York

 

We arrived in Albany, New York, the state capitol, at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 27, 2019 and departed on Tuesday, October 29, 2019 at 2:00 a.m.

 

Albany City Experience:

Discover Albany and see what has enticed visitors for over 400 years. Albany is one of the oldest surviving settlements from the original thirteen colonies, and the longest continuously chartered city in the United States. Take a narrated tour of the city, including external views of the New York State Capitol Building and New York State Museum. Visit the Albany Institute of History and Art, dedicated to collecting, preserving, interpreting, and promoting interest in the history and culture of Albany and the Upper Hudson Valley. Enjoy free time at the Albany Heritage Visitor Center.

$50.00

 

This excursion had two departures at 8:15 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Monday, October 28, 2019. This is a city tour. I did not sign on to this excursion and cannot provide any other information.

 

Albany Shuttle:

Explore downtown Albany on your own. Take time for shopping and strolling through town.

Complementary

 

Shuttle to downtown Albany for those interested in exploring on their own. The shuttle ran from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Monday, October 28, 2019.

 

Troy Lock and Dam Cruise:

Enjoy a day learning about the lock and dam system used on the Erie Canal which was originally built on July 4, 1817. This incredible project was undertaken to help create a water route from New York City to the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes in order to help increase trade and populate the region. While on tour, learn about locks, trade season, ecology, steamboats and more.

$55.00

 

The excursion had two departures at 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on Monday, October 28, 2019. I signed on to the 9:00 a.m. departure. We boarded a boat, the Dutch Apple II, that took us further north up the Hudson River than the American Constitution as our ship was too tall to clear some of the bridges beyond Albany. It was a fully narrated excursion with a knowledgeable guide who discussed the river, history of the area, nature, ecology and more. We went as far as Troy, New York (pop. 45,900) where we transited a small federal lock before returning to Albany. I sat on the top deck of the boat under the canopy and it was pleasant out on the river. This was a really wonderful excursion and I recommend it. 
 

My friend stayed onboard at this port and did not sign on to any of the excursions.

 

Next: Kingston, New York

Edited by SteelMagnolia9

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I am sorry that I have been absent and have yet to finish my review. I hope to resume later this week and am committed to completing it!

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I had been hoping for more. 😄. I do appreciate your taking the time to write. It will help us decide which excursions we might enjoy most.

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