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Cruising in The United States: More Options Than You Think

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When most people think “cruise”, they think about international waters, struggling with passports and tropical drinks. Caribbean cruises are extremely popular with travelers in the United States, but did you know you can get all the benefits of a cruise without stressing about customs, making sure your passport is up-to-date or claiming the items you bought on vacation? Cruise domestic – it could solve all of these problems!

When I first started looking into this topic, I had no clue domestic, United States based cruises were so plentiful!  You can pretty much satisfy any traveler without even ordering a passport! Let’s highlight the different areas you can choose from:

River Cruisin’

Once again, the last location you think about for a luxury river cruise is the United States. Fear not. If you are looking for a river cruise, but weary of the high priced flight to get you to Europe, you have options right here in the United States. Best of all – you’ll find the most popular river cruise lines sailing here too!

The largest river you can float down is the Mississippi. There are several choices for the Mississippi, but the popular European river cruise company Viking is expecting to start running cruises in 2018. Until then, the current companies all provide luxurious trips down the central river.

Smaller rivers, like the Hudson, Columbia and Snake, are all open to river cruise lines. These trips are sometimes shorter and are best at various times of the year, depending on the region. The Hudson, for example, would be most popular during the Fall for leaf peepers.

West Coast Cruisin’

Pacific coastal cruises can provide a wide range of activities and climates in one trip. If you are looking for cruises specific to the United States, you could experience itineraries from Seattle to San Diego. Also, several cruises are available through the frozen tundras and glaciers of Alaska.

If you are looking for a diverse cruise, the western seaboard may be for you. Some popular ports include Puget Sound in Seattle, wine tastings in Wine Country, Catalina Island and San Diego Animal Safari.

Look at the itinerary carefully. Sometimes, while a cruise is marketed as a United States cruise, it will include a Mexican or Canadian port of call.  

East Coast Cruisin’

Much like the West Coast, cruises along the eastern seaboard have a very diverse itinerary. You can choose an itinerary that travels between regions or stays within each region. The biggest regions for domestic cruising are New England and the “Old South”.

If you want to experience New England, you’ll have a lot of different options. From New York (although not technically New England) to the tip of Maine, you can see it all. The most popular time to cruise New England is the Fall. The summer time is often ideal for a large part of the region, as well, due to the festivals, seafood and summer time on-shore tourism available. These itineraries can sometimes include stops in Canada, which would require a passport or passport card.

The “Old South” is an excellent option for people who are looking to see the Carolinas, Georgia and parts of Florida. You can visit historical sites from the Civil War, plantations from a time past and experience the beauty and hospitality linked to the intercoastal waterways in the south. This area is prone to hurricanes and can get very hot during the summer months.

Hawaii Cruisin’

Travelers interested in a Hawaiian cruise have a few options for departure: Los Angeles, San Francisco or Honolulu. No matter where your port of call, you’ll be in for a treat if you cruise the Hawaiian Islands. Port of calls to look out for in itineraries are Hilo, Kauai, Maui and Kona.

Smaller cruise lines are great for tailored luxury experiences. Holland America Line, which claims to have “signature of excellence ships” provides a variety of luxury cruises themselves. You can choose a 2-week itinerary that stays within the Islands or an itinerary up to 2 months which would take you to other countries.


Photo Credit: AmericanCruiseLines.com


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