American Cruise Lines
American Cruise Lines celebrates the red, white, and blue with a fleet of small ships that explore the U.S. coastlines and interior rivers. This Connecticut-based company operates seven ships carrying 50 to 185 passengers. Three are Victorian-style paddle-wheelers operating on the Mississippi River and in the Pacific Northwest; a fourth is due out in early 2016. The ships fly the American flag and have all-American crews.
What We Love
Huge Staterooms: On the new American Eagle riverboat, cabins range from 260 to 600 square feet. Even the 19 solo-occupancy cabins measure 210 square feet. Most have private balconies.
Homey Touches: White, wooden rocking chairs line the outer deck of the riverboats, and a cozy lounge has lots of old maps of the Mississippi and its tributaries.
Best Known For
Close-to-Home Itineraries: The cruises visit lesser-known destinations that charm: small river towns, Maine villages known for fresh lobster, scenic burgs in Alaska, and stunning canyons and gorges in Oregon and Washington.
Low-Key Entertainment: Don’t expect splashy shows or Broadway-style musicals. The cruises feature historians, naturalists, and local experts, as well as entertainment by a local combo or a trivia contest.
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Who It's Best For
Mature Travelers: American Cruise Lines appeals to well-heeled people age 50 and up, and the riverboats in particular attract an older crowd. Well-traveled and well-educated, these travelers appreciate that the elevator goes to all decks.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
It’s Not Cheap: You won’t find this cruise selling for $599: Expect to spend in the neighborhood of $4,000 per person and up for a seven-night cruise.
Have Another Drink: There’s a complimentary cocktail hour before dinner, and beer and wine are served with meals. But if you want a drink after dinner, you'll have to flag someone down.
Theresa Norton Masek is a Chicago-based contributor to ShermansCruise and a longtime cruise writer.