Thursday, September 30, 2021

American Cruise Lines offers close-to-home cruising in stylish safety


The new, streamlined ships of American Cruise Lines are luxurious and beautifully designed to
 accommodate small passenger loads, allowing for navigation into small ports and harbors. Here,
American Melody explores ten states on a leisurely Mississippi River trip -- New Orleans to St. Paul.


New ACL ships, like American Melody, 
below right, offer state-of-the-art design,
small-ship comfort with the feel of a 
contemporary ocean-going luxury vessel. 

Editor's Note: Today we begin a three-part series on rivers and exploration. First, we focus on myriad appealing itineraries aboard the enticing modern riverboats of American Cruise Lines. Then we board a charming ACL vessel, American Pride, to follow the Lewis and Clark trail, visiting intriguing small towns and ports along the Columbia and Snake rivers. Finally, we pay tribute to Sacajawea, the remarkable native American guide who played a major role in the legendary1805 expedition to open the West. The museums, parks, inns and historic buildings she inspired live on.

and courtesy American Cruise Lines

NOW MORE than ever, it's wise to play it safe and travel close to home.
Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie" Meyers
about to board ACL's American Pride for a
week on the trail of Lewis and Clark.
If you're travel junkies, like the two of us are, you know how essential it is to have a ticket in the drawer. For us, cruising means adventure, exploration, the thrill of the new. It's mental health on the water with side-trips to fascinating ports and villages to visit museums, concert halls, parks and restaurants. It's a marvelous opportunity to see how other folks live, to discover and share their cultural riches.
UNTIL WE get a handle on the pandemic, exotic foreign travel is not in the cards for us.
So we're exploring fascinating corners of our own country. We were recently wooed to travel close-to-home, after studying American Cruise Lines attractive vessels and a string of engaging itineraries exploring home turf in the U.S.A. 
Eye-catching scenery enticed us to our stateroom balcony for
the view of Washington's Ice Harbor Dam on Snake River.
American Cruise Lines' ships offer "up close" viewing. 
Aboard American Pride, with only 190 passengers, we quickly met fellow cruisers. While tracing the Lewis and Clark trail on the Columbia and Snake rivers, we dined and toured with new, curious friends from Texas, Colorado, Arkansas, Louisiana and New Jersey.  Some were back for their 8th and 9th ACL cruise, proud of their Eagle Society membership, which honors return cruisers with special parties, discounts and other courtesies.
ACL'S NEW, sleek riverboats offer the amenities, glamour and prestige of the best of larger cruise ships. Its vessels create  inviting close-to-home options for cruise lovers who don't prefer large-ship cruising. Design is carefully thought out, offering close-up looks at ever-changing landscape -- locks and dams on our recent trip where bird's eye views abound. Some of the line's newer ships offer multi-story atriums, popular in ocean-going vessels for their panoramic views.
The line's stately paddle heelers offer distinctive charms of their own: whimsical artwork, cozy nooks to read or enjoy a beverage, and turn-of-century velvet and wood accoutrements. A multi-million dollar update is planned for these much loved slightly older vessels, honoring ACL's reputation for premium, contemporary comfort. Private balconies are an ACL trademark; we enjoyed ours all day and evening.

American Melody's roomy, comfy
staterooms offer a large balcony
for viewing passing wonders
A school teacher in period dress
   gives insight into the trail-blazing
journey of Lewis and Clark.

THE NEWER ships -- the first modern riverboats in the U.S. --  are attractive for their modern design, appealing to comfort seekers with spacious bathrooms and staterooms the size of small apartments.  In ships such as the new American Melody and American Jazz. cruisers enjoy luxury on the Mississippi River.  One couple we met followed the call of Mark Twain and riverboat travel of yore, raving about their "complete Mississippi" three-week cruise. It transited 10 states from New Orleans to St. Paul and they said they "lived on our balcony."  Intriguing.
IF YOU WANDER the ship, you'll find the all-American crew to be helpful, amiable,  and well informed about ports, shipboard activities and schedules. Workers are also proud that their ships are "made in the U.S.A." 
WE APPRECIATED the learning opportunties during our Lewis and Clark week as we traversed territory explored by these two ground-breaking explorers in the early 1800s. While immersing ourselves in their challenges -- bitter winter wind and cold, relentless rain, struggles to scale mountain passes, language barriers and back-breaking building of forts and canoes -- we returned to our comfy ship.  Within walking distance, we enjoyed the journey's modern-day museums, galleries, shops and  
Oregon's fine Maryhill Museum offers pleasures,
treasures in an ACL sidetrip from The Dalles

homes, a pleasant contrast with the travails and hardships of the long-ago journey.   ACL specializes in historic destinations, carefully choosing guides, on-board lecturers and historians to enhance the journey. In our voyage's delightful river towns, we observed the lifestyle of today's contemporary American westerners, a bonus. 
Part of the thrill of the small boats is watching the ship rise
in the canal locks from a bird's eye perch on the open deck.
ACL chefs design meals to enhance
  ports and cities visited, here a po boy.
THE NEW ships also cater to the foodie, with pretty meals served in a formal dining room or a casual "Back Porch Cafe," option, proving hugely popular. Lovely lounges entice cocktail gatherings or morning coffee, all with close-up views of passing scenery. A yoga studio and fitness center help keep the figure trim for one shouldn't pass on the meals. ACL chefs design menus inspired by destinations, so leaving New Orleans, you might choose jambalaya, bananas foster or a po boy sandwich. We enjoyed fresh seafood on our near-Pacific sojourn. The food is tops, presentation artful and service refined.
A VARIETY OF choices await both veteran and novice cruiser aboard ACL. We shared tables with many repeat ACL customers, veteran cruisers devoted to the "close up" views of the land ACL's fleet offers.  We are considering Alaska, Puget Sound, New England, the Ohio River and an alluring "Historic south, golden isles" trip from Charleston to Savannah and on to Amelia Island. A week-long Mississippi trip attracts us, too. An east coast inland passage trip also appeals, with kayaking, dolphins, carriage rides and Fort Sumter history. 
Nashville's charms unfold aboard American Jazz,
with large staterooms and small passenger loads.

ONE ACL CRUISE we've not yet taken -- and eagerly await -- is a music-themed cruise from Nashville to Memphis. This trip appeals to us because with 127 cruises under our life jackets, we're always looking for something new.  This sounds terrific, with its leisurely trek up the Mississippi, Cumberland and Ohio rivers, into colorful small villages and middle-sized towns. Throw in a Grand Ole Opry visit in Nasvhille and a plate of Memphis barbecue, with nightly performances of jazz and blues. What could be better for a pair of cruisers, foodies and musicians?
For more on ACL's three dozen itineraries in 30 states, call 1 800 814-6880 or go to ACL's website:

UP NEXT:  We continue our "close to home" cruise series with a look at towns along the rivers explored by Lewis and Clark.  Side trips from American Cruise Lines' American Pride give insight into the pair's remarkable journey west from St. Louis. With state-of-the art decor and all the comforts of large-ship cruising, ACL visits ports of call not accessible by ship, except on small vessels.  Our week-long Columbia and Snake Rivers cruise sheds new light on the daring and bravery of Lewis and Clark. We take time to enjoy shipboard amenities, too, with gourmet meals, music of the period and lively lectures on the two intrepid explorers and a wise and talented woman who played a key role in the journey.  Sacajawea was important to the success of the mission, the dream of President Thomas Jefferson.  Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for fresh insights into travel, nature, the arts, family and more. Please share the links:

Photo left: Sacajawea State Park and Interpretive Center near Pasco, Washington, includes a wonderful small museum, detailing the contributions of the remarkable guide, interpreter and healer.                                                                                              American Cruise Lines specializes in historic ports and lively learning. 


  1. Pennsylvania Armchair TravelersOctober 1, 2021 at 3:17 PM

    Fun idea, to travel the U.S. while we are awaiting an end to the pandemic. Original story and nice art.

  2. Wonderful story. Good idea.

  3. We're in Columbus, Ohio, so the Ohio-Mississippi Rivers cruise beckons. Thanks for the tip on ACL. Didn't realize the variety of its offerings!

  4. Palm Springs CruisersOctober 4, 2021 at 12:18 PM

    Great idea for cruise junkies like the three of us.