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American Cruise Lines

4.5 Stars (9 Reviews)
Most Reviewed
Brands that earn the Most Reviewed badge have received the most customer reviews in their category on Retirement Living over the last 12 months.
Updated: January 27, 2023
By: Jeff Smith
Jeff Smith
Sr. Content Manager
As Retirement Living’s senior content manager, Jeff oversees the product and publishing of all retirement, investing, and consumer wellness content on the site. His extensive expertise in brand messaging and creating data-driven stories helps position Retirement Living as a top authority for senior content and community resources.
Sr. Content Manager
Edited By: Lauren Hamer
Lauren Hamer
Lauren is the editor for Retirement Living focused on discussing current senior-related issues, including retirement planning, consumer protection, and health and wellness. With six years of finance and career journalism experience, Lauren has edited personal finance content for Credible, Angi, Slickdeals, Jobs for the Future, and more.

American Cruise Lines specializes in small ship cruises, with ports of call along United States rivers and the New England shore. Their fleet offers intimate, personalized amenities and luxurious, roomy staterooms. Cruises focus on exploration and enrichment programs that allow guests to get to know America in a new way. Their all-inclusive experiences include daily cocktail hour, wine and beer with meals, and complimentary shore excursions on most itineraries. Passengers can choose from 35 cruise itineraries that visit 28 states.

American Cruise lines

Editorial Breakdown

Destinations 4.5 Stars
Amenities 4.6 Stars
Customer Service 4.3 Stars
Price 4.5 Stars

Overall Rating 4.5 Stars

Bottom Line

For travelers who want to explore American heritage, American Cruise Lines offers multiple itineraries that incorporate uniquely local topics—from Civil War history to Graceland to Mark Twain’s river-riding and more.

American Cruise Lines Review

Destinations with American Cruise Lines include the Mississippi River, New England, the Southeastern U.S., Puget Sound, Alaska, and the Columbia and Snake Rivers. The fleet is comprised of modern coastal ships, brand-new contemporary riverboats, and authentic paddlewheelers.

American Cruise Lines engages in conservation activities in the areas where it operates. Through emissions reduction, sustainable sourcing, onboard recycling and strategies to reduce water and energy consumption, they show respect and responsibility for the environment.

Each destination offers a variety of itineraries designed to showcase spectacular scenery, wildlife, local culture, and American history. Over 350 guided on-shore excursions are carefully curated to cater to guests’ interests, with options for active outings such as biking or kayaking or culturally enriching visits to museums and historic landmarks. Passengers can tour historic Vicksburg and other Civil War battlefields or go harbor hopping among the whales and gaze at wildflowers along Puget Sound. Highlights of shore excursions include the Hells Canyon Flightseeing Helicopter Adventure and Great River Outdoor Adventure on the Double C Ranch. American Cruise Lines carefully selects specialists, naturalists and historians to share knowledge and provide insight as they accompany passengers on each cruise or excursion. Shore excursions cost $20-$70 each and can be booked and paid onboard during the cruise.

Passengers who cruise at least once with American Cruise Lines are eligible to join the Eagle Society loyalty program. Membership is free and includes enhanced personalized service and special benefits such as $500 referral savings, a meet and greet with the captain, and onboard dining for family and friends who are not sailing.


  • Complimentary beer and wine with meals
  • Private dining areas for groups of 5-20
  • Small ships allow for up-close exploration of destinations not accessible for larger ships


  • Shore tours are not included in the fare

What to Expect on a American Cruise Lines Ship

American Cruise Lines passengers can expect personalized service from all-American crews. There are typically just 90-180 guests on each cruise. Passengers can also expect regionally-inspired entertainment, a daily cocktail hour, and lively onboard discussions with history, ecology and culture experts from regions visited along the way.

Ships feature roomy cabins, many with full-size bathrooms, picture windows, sliding glass doors and private balconies. Every room has an interior entrance and private view. Highlights of accommodations include:

  • Largest staterooms in the industry
  • Private balconies with breakfast room service
  • Elevator service to all decks
  • Spacious sun decks
  • Modern design, floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors
  • Multiple lounges with panoramic views
  • Single seating dining room

Dining on American Cruise Lines

Dining on American Cruise Lines is focused on locally sourced and regionally inspired cuisine with sustainable ingredients. Fresh produce, seafood, and meats are sourced as near as possible to the cruise, which supports farmers’ markets and small businesses. Menus are seasonally adjusted. The kitchen aims to reduce waste by offering half-portions and customized menu options.

Each cruise has a menu designed to showcase local culinary specialties. Regional menu highlights include Littleneck clams and Maine lobster in New England, salmon and dungeness crab in the Pacific Northwest, and gumbo and Bourbon pecan pie on the Mississippi Delta.

Open-seating dining allows passengers to dine when and where they want. Wine and beer is complimentary with meals.

American Cruise Lines Costs

Areas of exploration with American Cruise Lines focus on major US rivers as well as inlets on the eastern and northwest shores. Passengers can visit New Orleans and the Lower Mississippi or sail all the way from New Orleans to St. Paul, Minnesota on the Complete Mississippi cruise. Or choose a themed adventure, like the American Revolution Cruise, which explores the quaint towns and historic cities along Chesapeake Bay. American Cruise Lines also offers several options to get acquainted with the Alaskan shoreline.

American Cruise Lines Destinations
Per Person Prices
Destination Ports Visited Duration Price
New Orleans / Mississippi River 7 5-8 Days $2,290 – $3,930
Lower Mississippi 10 8 Days $3,930
Complete Mississippi 21 22 Days $13,510
Grand New England 12 11 Days $6,840
Maine Coast and Harbors 8 8 Days $4,790
New England Island 7 8 Days $4,790
Hudson River 8 8 Days $4,695
Cape Codder 9 8 Days $4,690
New Orleans / Mississippi River 7 5-8 Days $2,290 – $3,930
Historic South and Golden Isles 7 8 Days $4,215
American Revolution 12 11 Days $5,610
Chesapeake Bay 8 8 Days $3,435
Great Rivers of Florida 6 8 Days $3,930
Columbia and Snake Rivers 12 8 Days $4,215
Northwest Pioneers 12 11 Days $7,000
Highlights of the Columbia River 6 5 Days $2,625
Alaska 6-11 8-15 Days $5,855 – $9,855
Puget Sound 8-11 7-9 Days $4,215-$7,250
East Coast Inland Passage 14 15 Days $7,925

How to Book a Cruise with American Cruise Lines

Passengers can book online with American Cruise Lines. Prices are listed with each itinerary. Once you choose your itinerary, the website will guide you through booking the complete trip, including pre-cruise accommodations that are close to embarcation and that include breakfast at the hotel. Passengers can call if they require assistance with airfare reservations.

During the online booking process, passengers can view stateroom prices, options and detailed diagrams showing each cabin’s location on the ship. A deposit is due at the time of booking and payment is due within 90 days of the trip.

American Cruise Lines Complaints

American Cruise Lines closed 29 complaints in the past 12 months. Complaints tend to focus on cancellation policies and requests for exceptions to these policies. In these cases, American Cruise Lines refers to its Cancel For Any Reason trip insurance and maintains that it must apply its cancellation policy fairly for all guests. The company seemed eager to resolve issues with customers who complained about not receiving refunds. In general, American Cruise Lines replied promptly to complaints and offered to talk with customers directly to resolve any issues. However, the company is not BBB accredited.

American Cruise Lines FAQ

  • How many guests can American Cruise Lines accommodate per cruise?

    Ships in the American Cruise Lines fleet accommodate 90-180 passengers, depending on the vessel.

  • What is the occupancy per room for American Cruise Lines?

    Single, double and triple occupancy staterooms are available aboard American Cruise Lines ships.

  • What does fare include on American Cruise Lines?

    Per person fare includes passage, dining, snacks, complimentary cocktail parties and onboard entertainment. Fares do not include shore tours or port charges and fees. Gratuity is not included and not expected.

  • Is there a limit on how much luggage is allowed?

    American Cruise Lines does not have restrictions on luggage, but recommends bringing as few bags as possible.

  • What is the cancellation policy for American Cruise Lines?

    If you book a cruise and change your mind within 24 hours, you are entitled to a full refund. If a cancellation is made 91 or more days in advance, you will be eligible for a full refund minus administrative fees. Cancel between 90 and 46 days in advance and receive a 50% refund. Trips canceled between 45 or less days prior will not receive any refund. Customers can purchase a protection plan that provides better refund terms, including credit towards a future cruise if you cancel 9 days or less before embarkation.


American Cruise Lines offers an intimate and enriching way to see the river and coastal towns of the US. Small ships offer personalized service, regional food, and shore excursions designed to enhance passengers’ knowledge of American culture, wildlife, landscapes and heritage. Aboard American Cruise Lines, passengers will see quaint cities and towns, island hop along the coast, explore meandering rivers, and sail through history.

9 American Cruise Lines Reviews

Write Review
2 Stars

September 26 2022 9:47PM

Trip from ST. LOUIS to PITTSBURG. Service was not top-notch. The Hotel manager and his managers were filling in all the time. They served us food and the hotel manager had to even come in our room to show them how to turn the bed down, Our room was directly across from the office.

This was a training voyage with a lot of help leaving daily. 40% of the kitchen servers left at different days and were not replace to full staff, Workers were moved around to help. The hotel manager tried to put out all the problems that surfaced but lack of help and training was obvious.

People all over were complaining about the issues. This was our 4th cruise but we travel with another couple who were on their 10th cruise and we agree the worse cruise ever.

Food was served cold and slow. Coffee was hot but tea was lukewarm even after we told them. Lots of people were on their first cruise and will not cruise another. Your motto is SMALL SHIP DONE PERFECTLY.

Roland T.
4 Stars

September 04 2022 5:59PM

Basically it was a good experience. It was the 2nd cruise of the season so it needed a little work. My main complaint was "breakfast in your cabin." It was pushed in the brochures but the menu supposedly given out the night before was not available. We finally got one after a lot of requests.

Unfortunately we had to call twice the next morning to get it delivered. If you can't do it, you shouldn't advertise it. My wife got ill during the cruise and the on-board medical person was a big help. When disembarking, the roadway was so blocked by your buses our Uber charged us extra for the wait.

Alex W.
Beverly, MA
5 Stars

August 31 2022 1:05AM

Recently took a week cruise of Puget Sound & San Juan Islands with four other family members. Everything about the cruise was wonderful including the meals, accommodations, the crew, and the excursions. It was sincerely enjoyed by all.

My wife and I also took an American Cruise of the New England Islands years ago which we also enjoyed very much.

Robert R.
Leland, NC
5 Stars

August 29 2022 6:11PM

While every port along the way offered something special to see and enjoy, there was one excursion that we went on that was also exciting and gave us an experience of the natural habitat of the swamp. The port was Baton Rouge where we went on the Cajun Pride Swamp Adventure.

Mike D.
Tucson, AZ
5 Stars

August 28 2022 3:31AM

My aunt and I had a wonderful time travelling with American Cruise Lines from New Orleans to Memphis earlier this year. The entire staff was determined to make our trip as grand as it could be. We are already thinking about where we should go next. Thank you for an excellent first cruise for us.

Mary M.
Good Thunder, MN
4 Stars

August 26 2022 6:35PM

The southeast cruise from Charleston, South Carolina to Amelia Island, Florida was enjoyable, with excellent tours, very good food and service and a good ship, with a few limitations, which were as follows: (1) Because the ship was older, it had problems dealing with a turbulent sea in the Atlantic, when we had to divert to the ocean because of a problem with a Bridge.

The journey on the Atlantic was rough and I believe may have led to a disabled engine. The disabled engine prevented us from cruising from Georgia to Amelia Island, which we were looking forward to. We ended up being bussed to Jacksonville, Florida to fly home. The trip was April 23-30, 2022.

Wayne R.
Cerritos, CA
5 Stars

August 26 2022 5:15PM

My wife and I have been on 2 ACL cruises (New England and Columbia-Snake River) and we have scheduled 2 others. The cruises were most enjoyable with excellent service, food and with nice staterooms. We look forward to sailing again soon. ACL is a first rate superb cruise line.

Tripp J.
Columbia, SC
5 Stars

August 26 2022 4:13PM

Where to begin? First my wife and I have traveled extensively on small ships across Europe. To our delight each trip has been memorable. This led to a decision to try for a similar experience but across the US. We selected the American Cruise line.

Our experience has been excellent with trips across the US and we are anxiously awaiting our next trip down the Mississippi river. Our sixth trip. What we like most is that as soon as we embark on each excursion our itinerary is mapped out for us.

We have used American Cruise lines and have praised the crew for their diligence in making each trip one to be remembered.

Bob W.
Ledyard, CT
5 Stars

August 26 2022 4:05PM

We traveled from New Orleans to Memphis over our anniversary in April. The Crew was excellent in caring as the airlines lost our luggage but the crew told us they would find it and catch up with the ship. The luggage arrived just before we departed.

The food was excellent and the service top notch. They catered to our requests. The information/education and entertainment were excellent. The Hotel Manager was at every meal and checked on every table. Planning to do it again in 2023 to Alaska.

Tom T.
La Verne, Ca, CA