American Cruise Line American Symphony Ship. Photo by American Cruise Lines

I looked tentatively at the load of shrimp, blue crabs, gar, sea trout and other nameless denizens of the deep as they were dropped into the boat. I volunteered to hold one even
more tentatively — much more tentatively. But then I was making eye contact with a very
cute sting ray and I’m pretty sure we had a moment.

Trolling fish on a shrimp boat in Jekyll Island, Georgia
Trolling fish on a shrimp boat in Jekyll Island, Georgia.
Photo by Fyllis Hockman

My trip was aboard the Lady Jane Shrimp Boat in Jekyll Island, Georgia. Naturalist
Jeffrey explained the whole process of commercial net trolling and the many water
creatures they catch along the way – several of which became fast friends.

This is but one of the many adventures to be had on the American Cruise Line Historic South and Golden Isles Intra-Coastal Waterway Cruise from Amelia Island, Florida to Charleston, South Carolina

Getting up close and personal with a sting ray on an America Cruise Lines’ excursion
Getting up close and personal with a sting ray on an America Cruise Lines’ excursion in Jekyll Island, Georgia. Photo by Victor Block

We learned a lot about the mouths, gills and tails of individual fish which I actually
found more interesting than I would have expected. There are some very weird fish
tales out there.

But take time to look up at the flocks of birds following the boat. They knew what we had on board.  Overheard from a colleague on the way back to the ship: “If they wouldn’t serve us all that shrimp at meals, we wouldn’t have to go out and catch more….”

Michelin-Star Worty Food Options are Available 24/7 Aboard American Cruise Lines’ Ships

So we might as well first discuss mealtimes aboard the American Eagle. Maybe mealtime is more applicable because you can literally eat 24/7.

There’s an Early Riser breakfast before the dining room breakfast and a pretty much all-day cafe in the Sky Lounge bracketing the more formal lunches and dinners. Cookie time is at 10 am and 3 pm providing very necessary sustenance in between meals.

One would think the cocktail hour and hors d’ouevres before dinner might interfere with the more than generous dinner options. But of course that doesn’t happen — and an hour later, no one skimps on the open bar, ice cream treats and popcorn that accompany the evening entertainment. Did I mention that snacks and beverages are available 24/7 in the Sky Lounge?

Cocktail hour appetizers
Cocktail hour appetizers could pass as a complete meal aboard the American Cruise Lines ship.
Photo by Victor Block

Rest assured there’s a Fitness Room to counter all those calories but seriously, no one goes there. The saving grace? All meals come in half-portions, which themselves are more than sufficient in this close-to-5-star restaurant.

The staff — who are not allowed to accept gratuities — are still remarkably agreeable.
How often do you request a drink at an establishment that they don’t carry — and by the next night, it’s there? So it was with my Fireball. Need I remind you that we were on a
ship at the time?

Just as an aside, this ship – accommodating only about 100 passengers – is part of the only line in the world offering small US ships that operate like river cruises along US coasts. 

This Intra-Coastal Waterway Cruise Offers Round-the-Clock Entertainment Onboard and Off

If you can find time in between all the food, multiple daily excursions are offered to St. Simon and Jekyll Islands, Savannah, Hilton Head, Beaufort and Charleston.

On the trolley tour of Savannah, a city I’ve never been to before, I wasn’t expecting
much, just another nice southern town. I was admittedly skeptical when the trolley driver
started the tour by claiming that Savannah is the most fascinating town in America. But
by the time the tour ended 90 minutes later, I was in total agreement.

The homes in Savannah, Georgia as seen from our American Cruise Lines Trolley are historic landmarks
The homes in Savannah, Georgia as seen from our American Cruise Lines Trolley are historic landmarks. Photo by Sean

The constant patter from Miss Pearl brought this historic wonderland to life. The picturesque streets just begging to be strolled upon with singular homes and stores; houses dating back to the 1700 and 1800s with architectural flourishes of graceful, lace-like iron-work adorning balconies, columns and brackets.

Wraparound porches adorned with decorative balustrades and whimsically designed gingerbreading give each structure personal charm and distinction. So much history right in front of you, peppered everywhere with almost two dozen parks and squares, ennobled by a famous statue.

Even chain stores such as Starbucks, Five Guys and CVS blend into the historic ambiance. Surrounding the immersive history are huge oak trees, their gnarled branches dripping with Spanish Moss, forming canopies over the streets. I laughed when I passed a sign declaring “Savannah’s Historic District” which felt redundant at best.

So Many Interesting Excursions are Available Aboard American Cruise Lines’ Intra-Coastal Waterway Cruise

The next mode of transportation was a golf cart traversing Pat Conroy country. You
probably ought to know the author of The Prince of Tides, The Great Santini, The Water
is Wide and others to appreciate even the idea of such an excursion. I qualified.

But even if you’re not familiar with his books, you may be with the many movies made of
them, all of which take place in the city where he lived. Beaufort, SC is another historic small town, with houses from the 1700s, that delights even without the Pat Conroy connection.

One of the southern homes in Beaufort, SC from the movie Prince of Tides
One of the southern homes in Beaufort, SC from the movie Prince of Tides.
Courtesy of Google Images

Nor are they the only movies for which the town is famous – and whose settings are
great fun to visit. Perhaps you’ve heard of Forrest Gump? Maybe even The Big Chill?
Forces of Nature with Ben Affleck and Sandra Bullock? Glory with Denzel Washington?

You pass scenes from the movies, houses the stars rented during filming, and the
chocolate shop whose candies filled the famous box of chocolates Forrest Gump ate in
the infamous bench scene.

The bench where Forrest ate his infamous chocolates is one of many movie
scenes in Beaufort, SC
The bench where Forrest ate his infamous chocolates is one of many movie
scenes in Beaufort, SC. Photo by Michael Koenig/

A visit to the Prohibition Museum doesn’t teach you about that era – you instead inhabit it. From one life-size, immersive exhibit to another, you viscerally experience the hows and whys of alcohol’s early 20th-century journey from poison to party staple.

Onboard activities range from fun games to engaging lectures
Onboard activities range from fun games to engaging lectures. Photo by Victor Block

Should you wish to stay on board, though few people do, no matter their disabilities, ship
activities abound. There’s Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader; movie trivia; an
Outrageous Laws game – you probably didn’t know that in Alabama, it is illegal to drive
while wearing a blindfold — and the ever-popular Boozy Bingo. As silly and/or
intimidating as they may sound, they are always fun. And the same can be said of the
whole cruise.

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Rambling Writers

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