Renting with Cruise America Review

If this is your first time visiting our page, welcome! This post was inspired by our 18-day honeymoon which was spent visiting 6 National Parks while in a Cruise America RV… if you are new, go to our page to read all about our trip. Spending 18 days in an RV, driving just over 2,500 miles, was an amazing experience and we are here to give you all the information you need if you are considering renting with Cruise America. *Cruise Canada is also an option but we are unsure if any of the information below is the same for both.

ABOUT THE COMPANY

As stated on their website- Take the comfort of home with you next time you travel by renting an RV from Cruise America. The stress-free convenience of vacationing with your room on your back affords families and friends the opportunity to travel in comfort and style, while allowing time for a great opportunity to grow closer as you travel to and from your destination. With Cruise America, the journey is a rich part of the reward.

For us– When looking for an RV rental company, Cruise America seemed to offer all the things we were looking for: one-way travel options, easily accessible locations for pick-up and drop off, multiple rental options, friendly staff, and the freedom. Cruise America also offers free insurance and 24-hour service which was a plus.

LOCATIONS

Cruise America has 129 pick-up and drop off locations spanning the United States and Canada. Click HERE and scroll to the very bottom of the page to see a list of their locations.

For us- When picking the start and end destination for our trip, we made sure there was an airport and a pick-up/drop off location relatively close to each other; we used Lyft to get from the airport to the Cruise America location and back (San Jose and Salt Lake City airport). Do your research before, there was another airport just as close in California but the flights were a lot more expensive.

TYPES OF RVs

There are 4 types of RVs you can choose from when completing your booking process (click HERE for an overview of all the RVs and what is included or to look at each one separately/take a 360 video view):

Large RV- 7 passenger

Standard RV- 5 passenger

Compact RV- 3 passenger

Truck Camper- 2-3 passengers

For us: Greg and I kept going back and forth between renting the compact RV and the truck camper. Ultimately, because we booked a one-way trip, the compact RV was what we got “approved” for. In the end, we were very happy with what we had; it was just the right amount of space we needed without feeling like we were bumping into each other the entire time. We slept in the upper bed and store our suitcases under the kitchen table so they were never in the way. One other bonus of the compact RV compared to the truck camper was that I could easily get up and grab a snack/go to the bathroom while Greg was driving- with the truck camper you would have to pull over.

  • The compact RV and truck camper will fit in a regular size parking spot. All others will need to be parked in an RV spot.

BOOKING

After doing your research, you have the option of booking online or on the phone. If you are wanting to reserve a one-way trip, you must call for your reservation.  

For us- The booking process was stressful, frustrating, and difficult. We spent a few weeks deciding on where we wanted to go on our honeymoon, researching fights, and beginning to plan our trip before contacting Cruise America to actually book… when we did, and submitted our reservation, it was declined… again and again! We were told one-way trips are tricky because they must keep specific inventory of their RVs in certain locations. We spent so much time e mailing back and forth offering other pick-up and drop off locations (redoing our trip each time) only for it to be declined. In the end, I stopped e mailing the original staff member we were working with, contacted another member, told him to pick 2 locations for us (we would plan a trip around where he could get approval), and we were able to book that same day (he got us approval to pick up in San Jose/Newark, California and to drop off in Salt Lake City, Utah because he knew we wanted to visit the National Parks)! So, I am not sure if we were paired with the second staff member in the first place if we would have been successful but we will never know… it all worked out in the end. I have no problem sending his contact information if you would like to book with him from the start, he was great.

* You are allowed to cross the boarder of the US and Canada but you cannot pick up in 1 country and drop off in another, we tried as we wanted to visit Banff National Park.

CANCELLATION POLICY

If for any reason you need to cancel your reservation, call 1-800-327-7799 and provide your confirmation number. You may cancel your reservation up to 7 days prior to the pick-up date and you will be refunded your reservation down payment. With less notice and with all one-way reservations, you will forfeit your reservation down payment.

DEALS

Cruise America offers many deals, but unfortunately, as we were looking, none of them applied to us. Examples of their deals that were available during the time this post was written are as followed:

One-way specials: One-way trips happen all the time, just like we did, and the RVs need to get back to their original location somehow. Cruise America has special reservations such as the one below. If this works for you, you can receive a discount… just have the RV to its destination by the return date.

Half Price Miles: Check their website and see what is offered for half-price miles. Bookers can receive 50% off rentals between September 7 and December 31, 2019 using the discount code (FRDM). *Not combinable with any other discount or promotional offer, and applied to new reservations only. Not available on one-way rentals. The offer may be withdrawn at any time.

Enjoying a Free Night: This special offer applies to any size motorhome for rentals of 4 nights or longer from any North America RV Rental Centers departing September 7 to December 31, 2019. To make a reservation call our reservation center or reserve online using the discount code (FRD31). *Maximum of 1 night free. This special offer is applied to new reservations only and is not combinable with any other specials or promotional rates and may be withdrawn at any time. One-way rentals are not available with this special.

Alaska- 300 Miles Free: This special offer applied to any size motorhome from Anchorage AK Rental Center returning by October 15, 2019. Call to make a reservation or book online using the discount code FRD300. *Not combinable with any other discount or promotional offer and applies to new reservations only. Not available for one-way rentals. This offer may be withdrawn at any time.

PRICING

To check specific pricing or obtain a quote, visit their website and put in the appropriate information for your trip. From there, you will be able to select the RV of your choice and select add on options as you desire- click Next and that’s it, you have your quote! If you have questions click the online chat or call their number 24/7.  

For us- As this blog is meant to help others, I have no problem sharing what we spent on the RV.

We chose to add the kitchen kit, we believe this was a good add on for the price (plates, cups, bowls, utensils, pots, pans, strainer, cutting board, broom).

We chose to pass on the other add on options (personal kit for bedding, zero deductible plan), we stopped at Wal-Mart before we began our trip- this ended up saving us money.

We were charged $400.00 for a one-way rental.

We estimated our trip would be 2,800 miles at .35 cents a mile, we only drove 2,500 miles so we were refunded $105.00.

We were refunded our $500.00 security deposit.

Our total cost for the RV was- $3,368.13. A $300.00 deposit is required when you make your reservation and will be applied towards your fees. All other fees are due at the time of pick-up.

AFTER YOU BOOK/BEFORE YOUR TRIP

After you book, a confirmation e mail will be sent with all your information. We recommend you print this out and keep it with you during your trip.

Before your trip, Cruise America will contact you and send you videos you must watch before you pick-up your RV. They were very educational and answered questions we knew we would have. We also referred back to these videos during the trip when we could not figure out how to turn the shower on the first day.

RECOMMENDED PACKING LIST

As stated above, when booking, you have the option of adding on to your rental. Below is a recommended shopping/packing list if you do not choose ANY of the add on options or bring anything from home. We brought some items with us from home but made a stop at Wal-Mart as soon as we picked up the RV and saved a ton of money by doing this.

Plates, cups, bowls, utensils, pots and pans, dish soap, dishwashing sponge, napkins, paper towels, pillows, blankets, fitted sheet, top sheet, memory foam mattress topper (click HERE to see the one we purchased which was great for our 18 days), laundry detergent, bath towels (we bought 3, 2 for us and 1 for the floor as you exit the shower), washcloths, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, matches, phone chargers, car invertor (HERE this was great for nights we did not have electric hookup and could charge our phones and camera- it worked while the RV was not running), camera, and clothes .

You will also need to buy food but don’t buy too much… most places we stopped at had a general store where we could buy additional food as needed. We did have extra unopened food in the end we just gave to a neighbor.

For us- We packed liquids from home such as dish soap, detergent, body wash, sunscreen, shampoo, conditioner, mouth wash, etc. in THESE so we did not have to buy bigger bottles once we flew out, and it also saved room!

PICKING UP

A few weeks before your trip you will have to call to select your pick-up time slot. Pick-up times are Monday through Friday from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. Saturday pick-up times vary by locations with some closing as early as 12:00pm. No available pick up times on Sunday so plan accordingly.

For us- Picking up our RV was so much fun because we knew what we were in for the next 18 days. The process took about an hour because they will walk through the RV with you and go over everything including how to dump waste, hook up electric, hook up/refill water, etc. The staff will complete an inspection and write down everything they see so you are not charged upon your return… if you see something, let them know! There was a very small crack on our windshield from a rock we let them know about so we did not get charged for it upon delivery.

Download the Cruise America app before beginning your vacation.

DROPPING OFF

RV return times are between 9:00am and 11:00am, late charges are automatically applied starting after 11:00am.

Additional fees may be added during drop off if you do not refill the propane tank, do not empty your water, or if there is damage to the RV.

For us- Dropping off was a sad moment as it meant out trip of a lifetime was ending. When you drop off, they will walk through your RV and sign off if everything looks how it did when you picked it up. This process took about an hour as well so plan ahead if you have a flight to catch. We arrived at 9:00am and by 10:00am there was a line and people had to wait for their RVs to get inspected.

If you have extra food or items you would like to donate, you can do this at any of their locations for people just beginning their trip.

PURCHASING

Cruise America also sells their used RVs, check out their website for more information.

OUR EXPERIENCE

We had an amazing experience with this company and would definitely book again, if we don’t buy our own RV in the meantime. Cruise America was hands down the most common RV rental company we saw during our 2,800 miles on the road- it was fun waving to others while driving by and even talking to other renters.

If you have any other specific questions that we did not cover don’t hesitate to reach out. We learned a lot while spending 18 days in the RV!

Zion National Park Guide

(This post is part 4/6- make sure to read the others. While you’re reading, click anything blue and you will see I attached links and additional images for more information!)

*All times included time spent taking pictures/enjoying the views.

* We visited in the middle of June

Our honeymoon continued with a 3.5 day trip to Zion National Park. Despite most of our planned hikes being closed because of water levels and falling rock, we still enjoyed our time here so much. Our planned hikes that were closed include the following: Narrows, the Upper and Middle Emerald Pools, Observation Point, Hidden Canyon Trail, and Kayenta Trail.

Day 1- Friday

After our packed day from the Grand Canyon, we arrived at Zion National Park around 7:30pm. Upon getting to the entrance to show our National Park Annual Pass, we were told we must purchase a “tunnel ticket” in order to get through. This is something I did not find during my research- RVs must pay an additional $15.00 because in order to get through the tunnel they must stop traffic and allow for one way travel. The ticket is good for 2 trips so entering and exiting. Unfortunately, one of our planned hikes was on the other side of the tunnel so if we wanted to complete that hike, we would have had to buy another ticket. Because of this, we decided not to. The tunnel is “open” from 8am to 8pm but you are allowed to drive through whenever you want. * If you are an RV traveling through outside of these hours and something happens, you are on your own as it is not recommended.

Our first stop after driving through the park, (our campground was on the other side) took about 25 minutes. We stopped at the Zion Brewery for dinner and drinks. We LOVED this place. Greg ordered the elk burger, I ordered a regular burger with their specialty fries, and we ended our dinner with a brownie sundae. They have indoor and outdoor seating and if you can, sit outside to enjoy views as you eat. No worries about the heat, they have misters to cool you off!

After dinner we made our way to the Zion Canyon Campground and we both said this was the best campground so far. It was $54 a night for a full hook-up pull through RV spot, laundry, pool access, shower tokens, free shuttle to the park, a playground, WiFi, and GREAT views of Zion.

Day 2- Saturday

We woke up and headed towards the Visitor Center by foot. We decided not to take the Springdale shuttle so we could take in the views. When entering the park by foot, you must have your pass, a receipt from parking, or pay to get into the park. Once again, we were able to get information on recommended hikes as well as add to our patch collection here. Our first hike of the day was the Watchman Trail. We began around 10:00am.

The Watchman Trail

Distance- 3.3 miles (total out and back)

Time- 2 hours

Shuttle- Stop 1, start at the visitor center.

The Watchman Trail had great views but was a steep incline for the entire 1.75 miles leading up to the view. That okay, because that means a nice 1.75 miles of downhill on the way back. Greg and I found out we love hiking downhill, especially in the heat! The trail was not as crowded as we thought so we were able to enjoy ourselves starting. *Once you get to the top you must complete the Loop Trail in order to get to the scenic overlook (this is included in the trail distance).

From the Watchman Trail we hopped on the shuttle and got off at stop 9 for the Riverside Walk.

Riverside Walk

Distance- 2.2 miles (total out and back)

Time- An hour and a half

Shuttle- Stop 9

Handicap Accessible

We started this hike around 5pm and it was amazing; the sun was behind the canyon and walking next to the river gave off a nice cool breeze. We definitely recommend this hike later in the day. This trail has 2 access points- the first is a paved road and the second in a sandy path right by the water. Look for the sand access points as you will get a better view of the Virgin River while completing this trail. This trail is also handicap accessible with some assistance. The trail ends where you would begin the Narrows Hike so if you plan on doing the Narrows, wait to complete this then.

Our last hike of the day was the Lower Emerald Pool.

Lower Emerald Pools

Distance- 1.2 miles (total out and back)

Time- 1 hour

Shuttle- Stop 5

Unfortunately, we were very disappointed with this hike. Arriving to the Lower Emerald Pool, it looked more like a rain puddle to us. The views of the canyon were better. (This is not to say you shouldn’t visit! This is just what it looked like when we arrived)

Our day ended with dinner again at the Brew Pub where we had a great meal. Our service however, was not so good. We had a different waiter than the night before and we were not impressed.  

Day 3- Sunday

Well… we finally took a step back and had ourselves a day where we didn’t set our alarms and we SLEPT IN!! We knew this day was going to be short in anticipation for our strenuous hike on Monday so we decided to take in some much needed rest. We woke up around 10:00am and ate breakfast. We bought food from Hoodoos General Store– walking distance from Zion Canyon Campground. If you go, check out their market, they have almost anything you could possibly need. Following breakfast, we headed into the park.

We decided to plan our hikes from the furthest to the closest and riding the shuttle back to the campground stopping along the way. Our first hike of the day was Weeping Rock.

Weeping Rock

Distance- .4 miles (total out and back)

Time- 30 minutes

Shuttle- Stop 7

This was a great, easy hike with views of the canyon. The only downfall is that some of the trail was pretty steep. Also, the water runs off the rocks above so you may get a little wet even if it has not rained.

From Weeping Rock, we traveled to complete the Grotto Trail.

Grotto Trail

Distance- .5 miles

Time- 30 minutes

Shuttle- Stop 5 or 6, start at one and walk to the other.

The Grotto was a nice, relaxing hike with views of the canyon. The trails were mostly flat which made it more enjoyable. We were also almost all alone the entire time which we also enjoyed.

Our next hike was probably the shortest hike in the park, an uphill 100-yard hike to the Court of the Partiarchs.

Court of the Patriarchs

Distance- 100 yards

Time- 15 minutes

Shuttle- Stop 4

You will not find this hike on the hiking guide from the visitor center but all of the shuttles will inform you of it. Once at the top, you have views of 3 cliffs- Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Although this was a short hike, I would recommend if you need something to do in any spare time.

Our final hike of the day was hiking along the Pa’rus Trail.

Pa’rus Trail

Distance- 1.75 miles (1 way, we completed 1 way)

Time- 1 hour

Shuttle- Stop 1 or 3, start at one and hike to the other or complete a round trip

The Pa’rus trail was another trail where we were almost completely alone. The trail is almost all paved and has multiple bridges that provide a great photo opportunity. As you are completing this trail, turn around and look at the views of the canyons behind you.

We concluded our day of hiking with beers from the Zion Bew Pub. Greg and I loved their beer and this was a great way to unwind. If you go, let us know what beer was your favorite! While there, we asked for recommendations for dinner and were told the Bit and Spur and Oscars were great and nearby.

We chose to eat at the Bit and Spur (Springdale shuttle 6) for dinner and it did not disappoint. We both loved our meals! The prices were a little high but if you sit out back you have great views of the canyon. Watch out though, as we were eating a flash flood warning came in and we were rushed inside!

Day 4- Monday

Our alarms went off at an early 5:00am in preparation of Angels Landing. We were told to be at the visitor center by 5:30 as the 6:00am shuttle is almost always completely full. We arrived at 5:45 and were number 31 and 32 in line. Luckily, we made it on the first shuttle. Others weren’t so lucky however, and had to wait for the next shuttle.

Angels Landing

Distance- 5.4 miles (total out and back)

Time- 4 hours

Shuttle- Stop 6

This hike is not only listed as strenuous, but is also listed as one of the most dangerous hikes in the states.  Look up pictures and videos online and you will see why! The 2.75 miles to get there is completely uphill- I wanted to give up so many times but Greg was there to support me. He waited as I stopped about 15 times on the way up to “look at the views” aka catch my breath and make sure I was still alive (lol). After you complete 2 miles, there is a lookout point called Scouts Lookout where many people stop, take in the views, and turn around. If you decide to keep going, the rest of the trail is a narrow trail with people going up as others are coming down, with only a chain to hold onto on one side (scary!). I completed the first section of the chains but turned around after that. Greg continued on and is now able to say he completed Angels Landing (it gets its name because someone once said it is so high only angels can reach it). This hike is not intended for those with a fear of heights as there are 1,000 foot drop offs on either side as you are hiking up and down the trial. Prior to completing, there is a sign that warns you that many people have died completing this hike! Only complete this if you are 100% confident, if you start and do not feel comfortable like I did, turn around! The views from Scouts Lookout are just as nice.

After completing the first half of Angels Landing, we continued onto the West Rim Trail.

West Rim Trail

Distance- As long or as short as you would like- we hiked a half mile in and then a half mile out for a total of 1 mile

Time- As long or as short as you would like- 30 minutes

Shuttle- Stop 6

You can only access the West Rim trail from Angels Landing, it is a continuation and a complete 14 mile trip if you decide to do the entire trail. Greg and I hiked a half mile to a lookout point and then turned around as we were getting tired and hungry.

I guess you can say we were pretty tired after these hikes. We went back to the RV and both passed out for 3 hours. The rest of the day was spent sitting outside, drinking beers, making smores, and talking with our neighbors. We have made so many friends along the way so far that we hope to keep in touch with. We encourage you to make friends on your trip as you already have one thing in common- your love for traveling!

OTHER PARK INFORMATION

SHUTTLE SYSTEM- There are two shuttles at Zion National Park. The first is for the town of Springdale which we used to get to the entrance of the park and the other for inside of the park. The shuttles inside the park runs every 15 minutes until 8:30am where they then run every 5 minutes. The shuttle stops around 9:30pm depending on where you are inside the park and 10:00pm outside the park using the Springdale shuttle. Be aware when riding the shuttle, you are on the right side of the road depending on where you want to go. 

VISITOR CENTER- Definitely make a stop here, the rangers can provide you with any information or questions you may have, you can buy souvenirs at the gift shop, grab free maps (we lived off of using ours), and get a stamp for your National Park Passport! We added to our National Park patch collection here.  

SERVICE- We had service and WiFi at our campground which was nice for a change, we were immediately able to send pictures to our family. 

FOOD- We packed a lot of snacks for our hikes including trail mix, crackers, etc. Having the RV available after each hike was very convenient for meals as well. There are many restaurants, cafes, and stores in the town of Springdale- you will definitely be able to find what you are looking for foodwise here. Like I mentioned above, we ate at the Brew Pub, Bit and Spur, and Hoodoos and would recommend all three. Oscars was also recommended but we did not make it there this trip.  

LAUNDRY- There was a laundry facility at our campground open 24/7- $2.00 to wash and $2.00 to dry. 

WEATHER- It was hot but luckily, the sun was occasionally hidden by the canyon. The rangers recommend two liters per person while hiking. 

TRAILS- If you are limited on time, plan out your top trails and do them first; you might be surprised that you have extra time in the day that allows for more adventures.

FIREWOOD- You are not allowed to gather branches for firewood, it must be purchased.

OUR NUMBER 1 RECOMMENDATION- Find time to relax if you can.

OUR NUMBER 1 RECOMMENDED HIKE– Greg: Angels Landing or the Riverwalk, Meg: The Watchman.