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My American Song Columbia River review. Long but I hope it’s helpful!


Ski Mom
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Hello I just returned from a fabulous 8 night River cruise with ACL on the American Song July 8th through July 16th. I posted my review on the Disabled board but I thought that it would help other people on this board to see what ACL has to offer.

     A little about us. We are in our early sixties and I have MS. I walk with a cane and travel with a transport wheelchair. I usually rent a scooter for larger ships but didn’t for this trip and I will explain later.

We didn’t know what to expect when we booked with ACL because I honestly was not familiar with them. A big shout out to Essies Mom for suggesting this line when I posted a question about a year ago. I had so many questions about this cruise line and its itinerary and everyone here was so helpful That I just wanted to return the favor!

      Except for one couple in their forties and two young adults traveling with their parents we were probably one of the youngest passengers on board but you know what? It didn’t matter! We met so many wonderful and interesting well traveled people and we had a blast! We usually travel IMG_4751.thumb.jpeg.cd120412eebeb6f97cface9d5f1334ca.jpegwith a few friends and if we had done that I don’t think we would have met the people we did so I feel this is a great cruise for a single traveler.
The food was great and the cocktail hour was fantastic. We also loved the back porch grill for a quick lunch with great views inside or out and a few choices for early breakfast as well! We loved the breakfast sandwich and the fresh baked scones and fresh fruit! Oh and don’t get me started on the fresh baked cookies available several times a day and the after dinner root beer floats and popcorn while you enjoyed local entertainment on board! The dress code was pretty casual during the day and at dinner most ladies wore nice slacks and a top or a casual dress and the men wore chinos and a polo shirt or short sleeve button up. This was the first cruise My husband did not bring a sport coat and I didn’t see any other men wearing one either. Some people wore what they wore on excursions during the day but they still looked nice. I wore one nice dress on our last night because I was celebrating my birthday but it was still on the casual side.

     Initially in the early stages of planning this cruise I was a little taken back by the price. It’s definitely the priciest cruise we’ve been on including our Alaskan cruise but it is all inclusive with drinks and gratuities included and also some nice complimentary shore excursions. Although the staff was willing to always help out I do think ACL needs to improve the overall accessibility in their staterooms and the disembarkation process on both shore excursions and the first and last day. I had done some research on line before the cruise and saw that the hallways and elevators were small and narrow and a scooter would have a hard time getting through especially when there are carts in the hallway from housekeeping staff who by the way were awesome and always seemed to be working and available if need be. The ramps to leave the ship for excursions were quite narrow steep and bumpy and I don’t think you would be able to use a scooter on them. That is the one thing that Princess and Celebrity have ACL beat hands down because I’ve been on both of them and never had a problem using my scooter. The ramps going ashore would definitely not accommodate a travel scooter and the shower in my accessible stateroom had a six inch lip that if I was traveling alone I would have not been able to use. I took pictures of the bathroom to show others so they are prepared. The balcony also required a step.
All and all it was a wonderful cruise and I would definitely recommend them but I think at this point it would be a bit hard on a wheelchair traveler to do on their own. Just a note and just my opinion I’m glad I started our journey in Clarkston WA which is hot and dry and almost dessert like. On the day we disembarked it was a scorching 95 degrees! Luckily it got cooler and much more pleasant as we traveled down the river towards Oregon. Although both landscapes are beautiful in their own right I think it would be a bit of a let down to go from the lush green scenery in Oregon to the desert like landscape of eastern Washington. But again that’s just my opinion. There is also an option for a pre cruise Jet Boat excursion that we didn’t take because it wasn’t wheelchair accessible but fellow passengers said it was wonderful but you would have to start your cruise two days before in Clarkston to accommodate it.

The Columbia River is made up of a series of locks and we passed through eight of them on our journey. Some of them at night. They were designed to let ships pass seamlessly from one water level to another dropping at levels of 90 feet and a defiantly an engineering marvel!

I loved all the excursions and it would be hard to pick my favorite but I will say definitely Mount Saint Helen, Cape Disappointment and the M Falls are a must see! We did take a break from the museums and exhibits one day and visited the Merry Hills Winery where the wine was great and the scenery was spectacular!  We also loved watching the masses of wind surfers in Mount Hood where can have wind velocities of up to 70 miles per hour! No wonder it is known as the “ Wind surfing capital of the world “

     I forgot to mention that forgot to mention that we had four motor coaches that followed our cruise all week and two of them had lifts to accommodate wheelchair travelers and room on them to fit two wheelchair passengers that needed to stay in their wheelchair. I had trouble navigating the stairs on the motor coach the first day and needed to bring my wheelchair to excursions that required a lot of walking so this really helped me! I was blessed to have a wonderful driver named Abra who was always there to assist me with the stairs or operate the lift on days when I needed it. I told her that she was my angel and I couldn’t have done what I did without her help.  Although I thoroughly enjoyed all the excursions offered by ACL I think one of my favorite days was the last day of our cruise that we spent just cruising and enjoying the beautiful scenery of Oregon. It was so nice not to have to report to anyone or rise at dawn to board a motor coach for an excursion. These last two random photos are of my wonderful bus driver Abra and the other is of the last day of our cruise that we spent on our balcony enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery of Oregon. I also loved our first day of the cruise when we spent the day cruising and enjoying the beautiful views of Washington.


Well I hope I gave you a good idea of what the ACL Colombia River cruise was like! Thanks for reading!

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Edited by Ski Mom
Forgot something
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@Ski Mom

A very belated thank you for your informative and well-written review, and of course the great pictures.

 

I have one question: were there any tables for two in the dining room at dinner time? My wife and I like to socialize with fellow-cruise guests over drinks, but prefer to dine by ourselves.

 

Thanks!

 

Jim

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3 hours ago, jimdee3636 said:

@Ski Mom

A very belated thank you for your informative and well-written review, and of course the great pictures.

 

I have one question: were there any tables for two in the dining room at dinner time? My wife and I like to socialize with fellow-cruise guests over drinks, but prefer to dine by ourselves.

 

Thanks!

 

Jim

Hi Jim! Thank you for your feedback! No there are no tables of two. They are either 4or 6. We were the same way about liking to socializing with fellow passengers but choosing to dine just the two of us.  We were a little nervous that there were no tables of two. We quickly realized that the reason for this setup was to encourage people to meet. I honestly think that it made our trip to dine this way ! I have never met and got to know so many wonderful and interesting people on any other cruise I’ve ever been on. It is a truly unique experience and I look forward to our next one. Please make sure you make it to the coattail hour before dinner because it’s phenomenal!

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1 hour ago, Ski Mom said:

Hi Jim! Thank you for your feedback! No there are no tables of two. They are either 4or 6. We were the same way about liking to socializing with fellow passengers but choosing to dine just the two of us.  We were a little nervous that there were no tables of two. We quickly realized that the reason for this setup was to encourage people to meet. I honestly think that it made our trip to dine this way ! I have never met and got to know so many wonderful and interesting people on any other cruise I’ve ever been on. It is a truly unique experience and I look forward to our next one. Please make sure you make it to the coattail hour before dinner because it’s phenomenal!

Please excuse the misspelling on my response! I was posting via voice activation and it doesn’t always translate the best spelling or grammar! I tried to edit it but posted it by mistake!

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On 10/19/2023 at 1:25 PM, Ski Mom said:

Please excuse the misspelling on my response! I was posting via voice activation and it doesn’t always translate the best spelling or grammar! I tried to edit it but posted it by mistake!

@Ski Mom

You're forgiven! I'm a lot like you in that I hate spelling and grammatical errors, especially when I'm the one who makes them (which is all too often, unfortunately). And I never use voice activation, so I don't even have that excuse!

 

Jim

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Thank you for your thoughtful review...very helpful.

 

Question regarding the dining tables for four or six. Were you assigned a table that stayed the same the entire cruise? Did you have any choice between four or six?

 

Thank You

 

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14 hours ago, gbldcl said:

Thank you for your thoughtful review...very helpful.

 

Question regarding the dining tables for four or six. Were you assigned a table that stayed the same the entire cruise? Did you have any choice between four or six?

 

Thank You

 

It's open seating. Sit where you want.

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On 10/27/2023 at 12:45 PM, BaumD said:

It's open seating. Sit where you want.

One more dining room question.  Does everyone eat at the same time?  Or if say dinner starts at 6:00 pm, can people come in for dinner at 7:30 pm?

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Dining hours are 530 to 730. You can go in anytime you want. The happy hour runs from 5:30 to 6:30 and you’ll find that most people go directly to dinner after the happy hour at 6:30.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Taking this cruise in June and enjoyed your review very much. Just have a question I have not seen addressed on any reviews. It pertains to tipping.  I have taken many large  ship cruises and besides normal billed daily gratuities it is almost expected to tip the staff additional cash gratuities for, eg. bartender, room steward, room service delivery.  I want to do the right thing and have no objections to providing tips in addition to "gratuities included".  What is appropriate with ACL?

Thank you

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ACL official policy is NO tipping required as it is included in the cruise fare. However, most people will give tips to dining servers or housekeepers that take care of them. Also, Bus Drivers and Tour Guides should be tipped. (On many itineraries, the busses follow the ship so you will see the same bus and driver every day.)

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15 hours ago, BaumD said:

ACL official policy is NO tipping required as it is included in the cruise fare. However, most people will give tips to dining servers or housekeepers that take care of them. Also, Bus Drivers and Tour Guides should be tipped. (On many itineraries, the busses follow the ship so you will see the same bus and driver every day.)

Thank You for your   response, that is exactly what I wanted to know.

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