Advertising Disclosure

We may earn money from our partners when you click a link, complete a form or call a phone number.

We believe everyone deserves to make thoughtful, informed purchase decisions. As a result, we provide our buyers guides and local guides free for consumers. We may receive compensation from our partners. However, Retirement Living independently researches companies, and the compensation we receive does not affect the analysis of our staff. Retirement Living will not include companies on our guides that do not meet our quality standards. The compensation we receive from our partners may impact how and where companies appear on our site, including the order in which they appear. As an Amazon Associate Retirement Living earns from qualifying purchases.

Retirement Living independently researches companies, and we use editorial discretion to award companies with special recognition (i.e. Great Value) based on our staff's judgment. We do this to help you identify companies that will meet your specific buying needs, and we do not receive compensation for these designations.

Get Insider Access

Get special offers, advice and tips from Retirement Living delivered to your inbox.

American Cruise Lines

4.5 Stars (17 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
Sr. Editor
Bringing more than a decade of editorial experience to Retirement Living, Lauren focuses on reporting senior-related issues, including retirement planning, finance, consumer protection, and health and wellness. Lauren has edited consumer content for Credible, Angi, Slickdeals, Jobs for the Future, and more.
Sr. Editor

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.

17 American Cruise Lines Reviews

Write Review
3 Stars

February 19 2024 9:41PM

The ship itself was beautiful and our room was very spacious. The food was very good although somewhat restricted to the dining hall. However, there were three areas of service that made the complete experience a little disappointing. The first, was the difficulty in getting room amenities. Wine and desserts were left in our room daily, but bath towels, coffee and coffee cups actually required us chasing down the cleaning cart to get our daily supplies. A lot of tea was left so maybe there was a shortage of coffee. Cups and towels I have no explanation. Around three or so days from our last port we noticed that bar had run out of certain beers, Coors Light was gone, the next day Bud Light was out, this was followed by Absolut and Titos vodka. We joked about this being the ships last run for the current season, so they were trying to use up their stock.

But seriously, I would think American Cruise Lines would have enough experience to know what they need for a trip. The third area of service that was disappointing were the ports where we docked. Very few were actually at or in a town. Most were makeshift poured concrete ports on the Mississippi riverbanks where you were shuttled up to a parking lot and got on a bus to go into the actual town. The buses were quite cramped and not easy for an individual with limited mobility, using a cane. We were thinking that we would walk off the ship and grab an Uber to see the sights, not realizing that most ports were well out of the town. In summary, I wouldn't take another one unless I did a lot of homework making sure of the port locations, and access to supplies like coffee, cups, liquor, beer, towels, etc.

Stephen J.
4 Stars

February 02 2024 4:37PM

We had a wonderful time, besides the cold temps. I would suggest that some type of store where we could purchase simple things... **, etc. Food was excellent and the service was outstanding and the room was always kept clean. Liked the fact that the shops are American made and the staff is also American. A pleasure!!!

Linda N.
Kissimmee, FL
5 Stars

December 05 2023 2:52PM

All aspects of the cruise were top notch. Staff members in all departments were excellent. The food was out of this world, second to none. Our cabin was more than adequate in size, bright and clean. I would not hesitate to book another but different river cruise with American Cruise Lines in the future.

Lillian M.
5 Stars

November 28 2023 9:04PM

The Serenade was amazing on the lower Mississippi. Staff were friendly, food was excellent and ship was not crowded. Loved the two gyms on board. Trey, Hospitality Manager, was fantastic. When my shoelace came loose he was on the floor in a 3 piece suit tying my shoe. Wonderful experience!!!!

Louise T.
Orlando, FL
5 Stars

September 27 2023 2:56PM

We accompanied our 84 and 80 year old in-laws. The crew's attention to their wellbeing was front and center to us. We enjoyed our time and had a wonderful vacation. The excursions were relatively short and accommodated their limited mobility.

Dennis P.
Madison, AL
4 Stars

September 23 2023 11:58PM

The trip was very nice. The food was excellent and the staff was very friendly and accommodating. One gentleman that stood out was Derrell **, Assistant Hotel Manager. He was very approachable and always willing to help. At one point we waited an hour for our food from the canteen. He was helping with serving and twice he was bringing out our food and the Hotel Manager grabbed it from him and gave it to someone who he was trying to impress.

The people he was giving it to came in way after we had ordered. It was not very professional and not much Derrell could do as it was his boss. Derrell was very gracious to us and kept insuring us our food would be out shortly. In my opinion he would be a much better Hotel Manager than the one who was. Other than this unfortunate circumstance the Ship was always clean and everyone was very accommodating.

Janene F.
Laguna Beach, CA
5 Stars

September 22 2023 7:49PM

I have only one bad thing to say about the cruise around Cape Cod. Upon leaving the port in Boston I was anxious to go to the upper deck and watch Boston fade in the background! It would have been so cool! Instead I was told to go to a meeting where the cruise director was going to give a short talk on what to expect for the next 7 days. We were held captive there for the next hour listening to the plans. It would have been easy to put this talk off until we were out of the Boston port..

As it turned out the same information was presented every night for the next day, so the initial talk is not needed at all. We didn't get to see the departure from Boston Harbor at all. The crew of the American Eagle was great - very friendly and helpful. Especially our waitress Victoria. We had a great time - all 12 of us and will cruise again with you.

Mary H.
Pittsburgh, PA
1 Star

July 18 2023 12:28AM

Horrible lunch and dinner food. Horrible lunch and dinner food. A Rubin sandwich that was sub-standard for a school cafeteria. Brisket that nothing but a hunk of 90% fat. Breakfast omelets were just OK. The boat runout of 1/2 & 1/2, vanilla ice cream (that was day 1 of the cruise), Chardonnay wine, and many other items.

The cruise director was just full of himself. On day one I told the management that the fan in our head did not work. It sounded like it worked but there was no air movement. I reported this to management 2 more times. Nothing was ever done.

Our cabin had a balcony. OK so it rained a lot on our cruise. The balcony was awash with an inch of water for almost the entire cruise. There were no scuppers to drain the water. On the 4th deck where we were the center passageway had no ventilation.

One morning we went to breakfast and there was a very foul odor in the passageway. 45 minutes later when we returned the odor was still there. 30 minutes later we left our cabin to find several cabin & balcony doors wide open to ventilate the 4th deck.

American Cruise Lines presents the view that with their small ships they can go where larger cruise ships can't go. This is totally false for an Alaskan cruise. What we saw of mother nature was beautiful. We could have seen the same things for 1/4 the price. Really bad experience.

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