It’s the last day of our 10-night, Grand Puget Sound cruise on American Cruise Lines’ ship, American Constellation, and Rick, the hotel general manager, has promised something special.
As we head for the main dining room for breakfast, there’s a surprise waiting. Today also happens to be Mother’s Day, and the ship is honoring all mothers with flowers and chocolate, as well as a photo op under a canopy of pink balloons. The crew went to a lot of work putting this little celebration together, and we applaud their efforts. Later. there’s also a special buffet lunch planned, as well as an elevated dinner menu, so mothers, and the rest of us, will have more to celebrate.
Captain Bryan is guiding us back where we started – Seattle – and he’s making several slow passes near the harbor so we can take in the impressive Seattle skyline, including the iconic Space Needle from the 1962 World’s Fair. It glistens in the bright morning sun, which will drive temps in the Emerald City into the uncharacteristic high 80s.
While the lunch buffet is a feast of food and desserts, it does produce a long line that had some passengers less than happy. We ultimately waited until the line had subsided, and found the food was excellent.
Once docked, we had another surprise: The ship had arranged for two tour buses, at their expense, to give us extra time to explore the area around Pike Place Market. That was an unexpected bonus. Since it was Sunday, and Mother’s Day as well, the market and downtown Seattle area was jam-packed, with flower vendors especially doing all the business they could handle.
On our return, it was time to get packed for the trip home. We emptied drawers to the solund of sea lions, which were gathered on the rocks outside our stateroom balcony, barking at the sailboats, kayaks and paddeboarders that were taking advantage of a sunny weekend on the water.
ACL made our departure easy. Color-coded tags were distributed and we just had to leave our luggage outside our door, pretty much anytime during the night. Buses had been arranged to transfer us to the airport the next morning.
In the afternoon, Cruise Director Jerry assembled the crew in the Cascade Lounge to recognize the members whom guests voted the most deserving. Kudos to ACL for providing a way for us to say “thank you for a job well done.” It was a tough choice, but Simone, Menz and Charity on the wait staff all were honored, and we heartily agreed.
In conclusion, Jerry reminded us of something he said at the beginning of the cruise: Before it was over, we would be hugging a new friend. And he was right.
Here are some concluding obervations about our first cruise on American Cruise Lines:
— This privately-owned cruise line, headquartered in Guilford, Connecticut, builds its own ships and places a premium on treating guests like family. We felt right at home from the start. It helps that on a smaller vessel, where the occupany is under 200, you can get to know your fellow travelers, but having a crew that’s engaged, attentive and friendly goes a long way to making the experience special.
— Our stateroom was more than adequate for our needs, with lots of drawer space. The balcony, too, was bigger than most, and carpeted, so it was easy on the feet. The AC/Heat worked like a champ, and there was plenty of hot water when you needed it. The shower was a little tight, and one thing missing in the room was a telephone (although we heard there to plans to add one). Each room also has a red medical alert button, in case an emergency arises.
— The food throughout was above average, but don’t expect the large menu selections you might get on the bigger ships. Lunch is an entree and dessert, while dinner is an appetizer, entree and dessert — each from two or three options. We liked how the executive chef circulated among the tables, asking how we enjoyed our meals. And gold stars to the ship’s pastry chef, Jailaa, who created marvelous confections.
— The excursions offered in each port was diverse and well-planned. Miranda and Mikalla, our excursion directors, kept the tours on track and made sure we all knew where to be and what time to return. As much as anything, the excursions are one of the high points of small-ship, river cruising. It’s amazing how much you can learn about your own country, local culture and history by visiting small towns that played a role in shaping our nation.
— We can’t say enough about the staff, particularly the senior officers, like Rick, the hotel general manager, Jerry, the cruise director and Captain Bryan, who all made it a point to mix and mingle with the passengers throughout the cruise. It was also impressive that they all wear whatever hat is necessary at the time – Rick was frequently refilling drinks in the dining room, right alongside his servers.
Bottom line: When you are thinking about your next cruise, give some serious consideration to what you can experience in your own country. There are some amazing places to see and people to meet, and American Cruise Line has ships that serve pretty much all of America, including Alaska. Chances are, you’ll end up with a new friend or two to hug as well.
PHOTOS (All photos by Gerry Barker)
- Sea lions sunbathe and bark in Seattle harbor
- Cruising by the Seattle skyline
- The crew is recognized for oustanding work
- Pam and Rick at the Mother’s Day celebration
With thanks to American Cruise Lines and the All Things Cruise team!
See All American Cruise Line cruises here American Cruise Lines
See entire sailing stories here:
- American Cruise Lines ~American Constellation~ Days 4 through 9: More Whale Watching, and Where Did the Time Go?
- American Cruise Lines ~American Constellation~ Day 3 ~Ship’s Staff Make Every Guest Feel Special
- American Cruise Lines ~American Constellation~ Day 2, Like a Moving Postcard Around Puget Sound
- American Cruise Lines ~American Constellation~ First Day, Seeing Orcas!
|Day 1||Seattle, WA|
|Day 2||Anacortes, WA|
|Day 3||Friday Harbor, WA|
|Day 4||Cruising the San Juan Islands|
|Day 5||Victoria, BC|
|Day 6||Port Angeles, Wa|
|Day 7||Port Townsend, WA|
|Day 8||Tacoma, Wa|
|Day 9||Poulsbo, WA|
|Day 10||Bremerton, WA|
|Day 11||Seattle, WA|