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First Time on ACL and Have Beginner's Questions!


Texas Duck
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FYI  80 years old and my wife and I have traveled extensively overseas.  Have done several cruises in Europe, China, Alaska, Egypt, etc. - last time was 2 months ago on Regent.  Live in Texas Hill Country.  Have used an online travel agent that offers nice discounts but little information. Am debating whether I should forgo any discounts and go directly to ACL. Hopefully you can help me decide by giving me your opinion on some beginner's questions.  We are considering the ACL Historic South cruise in April / May 2024 - Charleston to Amelia Island..  American Eagle in an AAM with private balcony. 

 

1.  Would you suggest port or starboard?  (guessing starboard)

2.  Are excursions included? (guessing yes)

3.  We make our own plane reservations? (guessing yes)

4.  Can we bring our own wine on ship? (guessing no)

5.  Should book directly with ACL or use online travel agent?

6.  Does ACL offer a hotel in Charleston the night before we embark?

7.  Do they offer transportation between airport and ship?

 

Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

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6 minutes ago, Texas Duck said:

FYI  80 years old and my wife and I have traveled extensively overseas.  Have done several cruises in Europe, China, Alaska, Egypt, etc. - last time was 2 months ago on Regent.  Live in Texas Hill Country.  Have used an online travel agent that offers nice discounts but little information. Am debating whether I should forgo any discounts and go directly to ACL. Hopefully you can help me decide by giving me your opinion on some beginner's questions.  We are considering the ACL Historic South cruise in April / May 2024 - Charleston to Amelia Island..  American Eagle in an AAM with private balcony. 

 

1.  Would you suggest port or starboard?  (guessing starboard)probably a good choice headed south

2.  Are excursions included? (guessing yes)Usually there are one or two free excursions at each port. Other excursions have a minimal charge, much cheaper than you would find on other cruise lines.

3.  We make our own plane reservations? (guessing yes)YES

4.  Can we bring our own wine on ship? (guessing no)Yes, you can bring your own wine. 

5.  Should book directly with ACL or use online travel agent?That’s a personal decision. I have found the phone agents for American cruise lines to be very informative. They are very good at answering questions and it seems like you will have a lot of them

6.  Does ACL offer a hotel in Charleston the night before we embark?No, this itineraries does not include a pre-cruise hotel. Some of their other itineraries like the Mississippi River do include the pre-cruise hotel.

7.  Do they offer transportation between airport and ship? At the end of the cruise they will have a bus that goes to the airport, but it will be very early as you have to be off the ship by 8 AM or 9 AM.

 

Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

 

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I can answer some of your questions. We have done lots of Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruises and 2 on ACL. Small ship cruising is much more relaxing than the big ones and we look forward to more on ACL. Port stops are on the banks of the river and often in a park. Simple on and off. All older, happy and friendly fellow passengers. We are 76 and 80.

1. No idea. 

2. Many excursions are included at no charge. Some in every port. Others have fees of $20 to hundreds. We have only done the free ones.

3. Unless airfare is included (on some unfilled ships) I think you are better making your own arrangements.

4. Don't know about wine. There is lots of free wine onboard from 11 AM to late.

5. I have always done direct with ACL.

6. Don't know about Charleston but other departure cities have a resort type hotel included for the night before departure. Usually nice activities the night before, breakfast on sailing day, and (7) transportation to the ship all included.

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If you trust your TA, why would you book yourself? We have been using a Texas-based TA for years, after finding out that she is a Regent specialist.  We book all of our cruises through her, including ACL. Very personal service, and much better than an online agency. Sadly, CC rules mean that we can't give any information about the agency she represents on this forum.

 

There is one benefit of booking yourself:  ACL will talk to you after you book.  If you use a TA, everything goes through the TA.

 

BTW, ACL is a very different experience than Regent, but we love both lines.

 

 

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19 minutes ago, Joanandjoe said:

If you trust your TA, why would you book yourself? We have been using a Texas-based TA for years, after finding out that she is a Regent specialist.  We book all of our cruises through her, including ACL. Very personal service, and much better than an online agency. Sadly, CC rules mean that we can't give any information about the agency she represents on this forum.

 

There is one benefit of booking yourself:  ACL will talk to you after you book.  If you use a TA, everything goes through the TA.

 

BTW, ACL is a very different experience than Regent, but we love both lines.

 

Could you explain?  I am interested in doing a Columbia River cruise, but my reading of the CC forums for ACL and AQV give me pause.  I haven't cruised Regent because of the cost, but it does seem to be true luxury; on European rivers we cruise Scenic, which is at or near the top end there.  So, how can I put it, isn't ACL a big step down? 

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16 hours ago, Joanandjoe said:

If you trust your TA, why would you book yourself?

For the same reason one would book flights directly with an airline, rather than via a TA:  There is no intervening "layer" between me and the cruise line...I pick my own cruise and cabin, select my own excursions, see my account, make payments. see that the payments are received, learn directly about unexpected changes in itineraries, respond to those changes -- all without waiting for the information to be filtered through a third party.  Judging by the complaints I see on travel forums such as Trip Advisor, many folks do not have as good a relation to their TA as you appear to have.  When problems are reported, often the community response is " well, you didn't book direct, so you have only yourself to blame."

 

I guess it comes down to your opening phrase..."If you trust your TA.."  OK, point taken.  But OP is dealing with "an online TA that offers...little information," not a good sign of trustworthiness.  And even a trusted TA can slip up sometimes.

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16 hours ago, Host Jazzbeau said:

 

So, how can I put it, isn't ACL a big step down? 

Is taking a Douro River cruise on a small CrosiEurope ship, say, a "step down" from sailing on a large ship?  I'm not familiar with the Regent line, but I believe all their ships are many times larger than the ACL ships, and they do not operate on the Colombia River.  Since cruises on small ships such as ACL ships are easily twice as expensive as the big ships, the fact that they nonetheless are competitive shows that many consumers prefer the smaller ships.  Take BillHana's post above as just one example. 

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11 minutes ago, DaveinCharlotte said:

Is taking a Douro River cruise on a small CrosiEurope ship, say, a "step down" from sailing on a large ship?  I'm not familiar with the Regent line, but I believe all their ships are many times larger than the ACL ships, and they do not operate on the Colombia River.  Since cruises on small ships such as ACL ships are easily twice as expensive as the big ships, the fact that they nonetheless are competitive shows that many consumers prefer the smaller ships.  Take BillHana's post above as just one example. 

I was not talking about the size of the ships, but about the level of luxury.  CroisiEurope is not a luxury line among European river cruises, so I don't believe Regent fans would be as happy on Croisi as they would on Scenic or Tauck or Uniworld.  My impression of ACL is that it is probably closer to Croisi than to those, which is why I'm asking for confirmation from someone who has sailed both types. 

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1 hour ago, Host Jazzbeau said:

I was not talking about the size of the ships, but about the level of luxury.  CroisiEurope is not a luxury line among European river cruises, so I don't believe Regent fans would be as happy on Croisi as they would on Scenic or Tauck or Uniworld.  My impression of ACL is that it is probably closer to Croisi than to those, which is why I'm asking for confirmation from someone who has sailed both types. 

It's true that comparing Regent and ACL is an apple and orange comparison, but here's my two bits, with some discussion of our only European river cruise (Dutch tulips on the Avalon Poetry)

 

Cabin size.  Cabins on ACL are around 300 square feet.  That's the size of most of our suites on Regent, although the balconies on ACL are smaller than on Regent.  Most rooms on the Avalon Poetry 2 are 172 square feet, and we may have been on the Avalon 1 with even smaller rooms.

 

Service. No service on ACL isn't as good as on Regent; but the 100% American crew is friendly and helpful  When Joan found she hadn't packed sufficient socks, the assistant manager gave her three pair at no charge. Wow! On Avalon, 3/4 of the passengers were from one group, and the rest of us were largely ignored.  Ugh!

 

Food.  Again, not as elegant as on Regent, but tasty and good.  Dining room service was oftem faster than on Regent; and if one were really hungry at breakfast or lunch, the grill had lox, fruit and great pastries at breakfast, terrific burgers and other things at lunch.  Again, we liked the food better than the Austrian-themed food on Avalon.

 

Excursions.  Either free or inexpensive on ACL, and mostly quite good, especially on the Columbia River.  It's hard to draw a fair comparison between Davenport, Iowa and Barcelona, but both were interesting on both lines.

 

Overall - Yes, more pampering on Regent, but we certainly didn't think there was a lack of luxury on our four ACL cruises.

 

 

Edited by Joanandjoe
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Thanks @Joanandjoe.  That is helpful.

 

If you decide to try another European river cruise, might I suggest you look at Scenic.  Their balcony suites are only 205sf – but they have a range of larger suites to choose from:  e.g. Deluxe Balcony @ 225, Junior Suite @ 250, Royal Balcony @ 360, Royal Panorama @ 475, and Royal Owners [a real multi-room suite] @ 520.  Also Butlers and very elevated cuisine and all-inclusive alcohol choices.  A river cruise on Scenic would provide much more of the experience of Regent.  There is nothing like this on US rivers, as your response confirms.

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  • Host Jazzbeau changed the title to First Time on ACL and Have Beginner's Questions!

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