Why Are American Cruise Lines So Expensive? Is It Worth It?

American cruise lines are like a haven for traveling buffs; their exclusive amenities are what everyone looks for. But unlike the rest of the river cruises, the American Cruise Lines is expensive.

They charge a minimum of $3,700 for a 7-day cruise, which is outrageously expensive. Even though fares may vary depending on the destination and duration, their prices are consistently on the higher side.

Undoubtedly, behind their premium prices come premium amenities. Most importantly, they have a modern cruise fleet offering comfortable voyages and next-level experiences. 

Let’s discuss why American Cruise Line costs you more and whether they are worth it. 

The Average Cost of American Cruise Lines!

The last fare that American Cruise Line charges for a 5-day Mississippi River cruise is $2,955. And their 22-day Mississippi River cruise cost you $15,505. Also, their prices vary by season. 

During peak seasons, American Cruise Lines’ prices can get quite high, but during off-peak times, fares tend to drop. 

Heads Up! The solo traveler has to pay more fare depending on their cruise destination, duration, and stateroom conditions. If you’re traveling alone, you have to consider 75% more fare. 

Below, I have shared a quick overview of American Cruise Lines’ cost, and it will help you to get an idea of how expensive this cruise line is. 

Destination Duration Price
Mississippi River5/4 nights$2,955
Mississippi River7 nights$5,075
Mississippi River11 nights$6,105 and $7575 (depends on locations) 
Mississippi River22 night $15,505
Columbia & Snake Rivers5 nights$3560
Columbia & Snake Rivers8 nights$5030
Columbia & Snake Rivers15 nights$12,310
New England 7 Days$4930
New England11 Days$7180
New England15 Days$13,375
Pacific NorthWest & Alaska 8 nights$5,855
Pacific NorthWest & Alaska 11 nights$8,160
Pacific NorthWest & Alaska 18 nights$16,560
Southeast 7 nights$3870
Southeast 11 nights $6,320
Southeast 21 nights $15,005
Southeast 23 nights$18,000
Puget Sound8 nights $4730

Why Are American Cruise Lines So Expensive? Reasons!

Based on my personal experience, I have shared the reason behind the steep fares of American Cruise Lines. 

1- Most Awarded U.S Cruise Line

Most Awarded U.S Cruise Line

When it comes to trust and reliability, the American Cruise Lines (ACL) stand at the forefront. On top of that, the ACL is the most awarded U.S. cruise line. 

Due to the smooth sailing experience and premium amenities, they have earned a lot of praise from travelers; that’s why everyone trusts ACL. 

For guest convenience, ACL offers all the luxury and facilities, that’s why the cruise line always appears in the front of award shows and newspapers. 

Being a reliable cruise line ACL has the authority to charge premium costs, and in return, they offer all such premium features to make the voyage more comfortable and safe. 

2- Modern Cruise Fleet 

Modern Cruise Fleet 

American Cruise Lines has a modern cruise fleet, spending more money on premium treats and opulent experiences. 

For maintenance, they have a special team who frequently checks for minor faults; all this requires a huge cost to run. ACL spends a great portion of its investment to make cruises look modern. 

From accommodation to services and food, everything on American Cruise Lines is exceptional and provides a lavish experience. 

3- Relax And Small Ship Feel 

Relax And Small Ship Feel 

The American Cruise Lines Fleet is very relaxing because they’re less busy than other cruise lines. They accommodate 90 – 180 guests per ship, which is minimal. 

It provides you with a calm environment, and you can spend some quality time onboard. And you have to pay premium prices because there are fewer people onboard. To fulfill the expenses of all luxurious amenities, the ACL have to take money from your bank account. 

On the other hand, the Royal Caribbean and Carnival cruise lines have 3000+ passenger capacity, which makes the environment too busy. And there is teeming all day in their main spots.  

Whereas the primary focus of ACL is to create a laid-back atmosphere and a homey feel. This makes ACL a highly appealing option for those who are tired of the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

4- Hub Of Entertainment 

The ACL cruises are the hub of entertainment, especially if you’re a fan of live music. The ACL is always the best bet. They arrange different cultural music events where you can listen to various music tastes. 

All the entertainment shows and night parties are complimentary. Every night is different on ACL cruises, and they entertain you with different flavors. 

First, music is the main entertainment onboard; besides this, social guest speakers and authors expand your knowledge. 

On some nights, the historians step on the stage and tell you about the secrets and facts about regions of America. The magicians were also there to entertain you and make your journey unforgettable. 

The utmost experience is a shore excursion, and the historians will take you to magical places and tell you stories on the spot. I suggest you never miss these port adventures, and you will learn a lot. 

Few entertainment shows onboard come with additional costs, but most of them are absolutely free. The free entertainment activities in your cruise package also result in a fare hike. 

5- Exquisite Staterooms 


Very few cruise ships have large and breathtaking staterooms, but the American Cruise Line offers exquisite staterooms. Plus, the private balconies with every stateroom make them more worthy. 

From private balconies, you can enjoy a specular river view from 360 angles. Most of the cruise in the ACL fleet has American-style balconies with proper sitting areas where you can relax and savor drinks. 

The staterooms are even more spacious, and I haven’t seen cabins this roomy on any other river cruises like what ACL offers. 

On average, each room is 250 to 350 square feet wide, which is enough for a couple or solo traveler. 

6- Pre-Cruise Hotel Stays

Just imagine you have booked a cruise and you’re facilitated with a pre-cruise hostel stay; it calms your inner being on embarkation day. 

The complimentary Pre-cruise hostel stays are included in your fares, which are a bit higher as compared to other cruise lines. 

It is good to know that American Cruise Lines collaborates with top-rated hotels and provides special discounts to guests. 

7- Excellent Customer Service 

Excellent Customer Service 

Customer service plays an important role in maintaining the reputation of a cruise line, and the ACL fleet has next-level customer service. 

Onboard, there is a 3:1 crew and passenger ratio, and the staff is very enthusiastic to help you and warmly welcome you on embarkation day. During the stay, if you’re facing any hurdles, you can ask crew members for help, and they’re available for you 24/7. 

The staff does everything for you. You don’t need to stand in long queues in bars, and the friendly staff will serve everything to you at a table. 

8- Complimentary Drinks & Alcohol 

Complimentary Drinks & Alcohol 

One of the reasons that makes the ACL fare higher is the complimentary drinks and alcohol. 

During the launch and dinner, guests are served with a free wine and beer. There is also a special cocktail hour onboard; during that hour, guests are free to savor delectable cocktails free of cost. 

If you order a cocktail outside of this hour, you have to pay an additional cost. 

Whereas coffee and soft drinks are available 24/7 at no cost

Last month, I took a Carnival cruise, and there was no complimentary alcohol. Similarly, most of the other cruise lines additionally cost you for drinks. 

9- Shorter Cruise Seasons  

Unlike most of the giant cruise lines, the American Cruise Lines has limited sailing seasons. 

Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Disney cruise sails through the years across Europe and American territories. During the winter season, they move to warm climates and vice versa. 

But the American Cruise only sails 9 or 10 months in a year. That’s why ACL has to adjust the expenses with seasonality. 

10- Very Low Competition 

Unlike ocean cruises, the rivers cruises have low competition, especially in the USA, where fewer cruise lines offer river voyages. Knowing the market gap, American Cruise Lines sells a costly tickets.

On the other hand, in Europe, there is still high competition between river cruises, that’s why their fares are low. Every Cruise Line in Europe offers average fares to attract more passengers. 

11- Customer Base

American Cruise Lines mostly target older age groups, and their customers are usually 50+. And you know the elders are often looking for more relaxing and laid-back cruising; that’s why they prefer American Cruise Line. 

American Cruise Lines Fare Comparison 

I hope you’re now aware of why American Cruise Lines are expensive. Before starting your itinerary with ACL, you should also examine the other competitors; maybe you would find an inclusive cruise line with affordable fares. 

Every cruise line provides different experiences and amenities, so it’s important to carefully select the one that best matches your preferences.

Till now, the Viking is one of the big competitors of American Cruise Lines, offering a similar luxury experience, but Viking is even more expensive than ACL. 

The 14-day Viking cruise sailing to the Mississippi River costs you around $12000 per person, whereas the same itinerary offered by ACL costs you $9500 per person. In comparison with ACL, the Viking cruise line has always had steep fares. 

However, if you want to take the cruise voyage without breaking your bank account, you can also consider Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise, or Holland America Line. 

The cheap cruise lines have bustling environments, but still, they are best to enjoy a comfortable sailing experience. 

The American Queen Voyage is another competitor that planned to operate 210 itineraries from October 2023 to December 2024, and their base fare starts from $3,139 per person. 

What Is the American Cruise Lines Eagle Society?

Just like the Carnival cruise line that offers a VIFP program to support their loyal guest, the American Cruise Line also introduced Eagle Society to reward their loyal guests. 

You don’t need to fret about the membership fee. It’s completely free of cost; just take the first cruise with ACL, and you will become eligible for Eagle Society. 

The Eagle Society members receive special respect, gifts, and exclusive offers. What’s even better is that after you’ve taken 10 cruises, you’ll get to enjoy a complimentary cruise voyage. Also, these members can enjoy the complimentary shore excursions after 3 cruises. 

Because of such special facilities, American Cruise Lines is a bit expensive, but in my opinion, it’s a worthwhile option for the elderly. 

Final Thoughts 

The fares of American Cruise Lines seem expensive, but in return, you will experience the top-notch luxury onboard. 

In comparison with other river cruise lines, the ACL offers a lot of complimentary amenities, and in fact, their prices seem fair. 

Before you set sail on a cruise, it’s a good idea to do some market research because each cruise line offers a unique experience and flavor. Make sure to pick the one that aligns with your preferences.

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