American Star on the Hudson River
American Star on the Hudson River / American Cruise Lines
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Owner's Suite on the Independence
Owner's Suite on the Independence / American Cruise Lines
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Paddlewheel Lounge
Paddlewheel Lounge / American Cruise Lines
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Riverboat Chart Room
Riverboat Chart Room / American Cruise Lines
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American Cruise Lines
Our Review
Deal Expert / Travel Blogger

American Cruise Lines celebrates the red, white, and blue with a fleet of small ships that explore the U.S. coastlines and interior rivers. The Connecticut-based company operates eight ships carrying 50 to 185 passengers with four Victorian-style paddle-wheelers operating on the Mississippi River and in the Pacific Northwest. 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.

Extra Perks: In addition to free drinks at cocktail hour and with dinner, your fare also includes complimentary excursions in most ports, Wi-Fi, and room service.

Best Known For

Close-to-Home Itineraries: The cruises visit lesser-known destinations that charm: small river towns along the Mississippi, 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 ships feature historians, naturalists, and local experts, as well as entertainment by a local combo or a trivia contest. 

Regional Fare: Dishes are made with locally sourced ingredients based on your itinerary (think: chicken and andouille gumbo and homemade peach and blackberry cobbler on Southern itineraries).

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.

Riverlorians: If you're interested in the history of the Mississippi, or want to travel in the steps of Mark Twain, the line's paddle-wheelers will deliver a double dose of Americana.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

It’s Not Cheap: You won’t find this cruise selling for $599: Expect to spend $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.