Cruises, Journey of a lifetime....

 Cruises, Journey of a lifetime........


CHARLESTON AND THE LOWCOUNTRY

🚢SOUTH CAROLINA/GEORGIA/FLORIDA

Excited spectators cheer on horses and riders at Churchill Downs
Excited spectators cheer on horses and riders at Churchill Downs

This tour is marked by antebellum mansions, unspoilt beaches, and tree-shaded canals. The Lowcountry, a gorgeous world of sea islands, genteel antebellum towns, and wildlife-filled salt marshes, is one of the most mysterious and captivating areas in the United States. 

As you head south from historic Charleston, hugging the shoreline along the blue highway of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, the ship is small—more like a huge motor boat than a cruise liner—and the scale of things is personal. The ship docks in Beaufort, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia, where rice and cotton barons' mansions line tiny streets shaded by moss-draped trees. 

Beyond that, extensive salt marshes teem with egrets and herons, while a plethora of streams wind their way through stands of golden cordgrass. An antebellum plantation mansion surrounded by its gardens can be seen here and there. Georgia's wild and magnificent Sea Islands, with vast stretches of unspoiled beach, are further south. 

On Jekyll Island, you may see the luxurious beachfront "cottages" of families like the Vanderbilts, Morgans, and Pulitzers, which were once a summer resort for the wealthy.

Historic Charleston is one of the most popular places in the southeast, so if you have a spare day or two, take advantage of it by seeing more of the magnificent historic neighbourhood and soaking up the genteel lifestyle.

When to Go ; The majority of cruises leave in April, which is a lovely time of year when the gorgeous gardens of Charleston and Savannah are in bloom.

How Long; A seven-day, eight-night trip between Charleston, SC, and Jacksonville, FL, covering 250 miles (402 km).


FRONTIER COUNTRY

🚢TENNESSEE / KENTUCKY / OHIO

Historic homes and gardens line the shore in Charleston, South Carolina
Historic homes and gardens line the shore in Charleston, South Carolina
While seeing America's historic centre by barge along the Cumberland and Ohio rivers, savour the essence of bygone days. The area was originally home to the Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Shawnee tribes, and was subsequently home to French fur traders and the early pioneers trekking west—and this voyage takes you back into America's past. Beginning in Nashville, Tennessee, the country music centre of the United States, you'll journey along the Cumberland and Ohio rivers to Cincinnati, Ohio, passing through lush agricultural terrain that drew numerous carly pioneers. While remaining on the Cumberland River, you'll transit Lake Barkley in the Land Between the Lakes and travel through a series of historic locks built by the Tennessee Valley Authority during the Great Depression. You'll soon be on the Ohio River, passing through Paducah, Kentucky, with its railroad museum, River Heritage Museum, and American Quilters Society Museum. You'll be gliding along the Ohio River to Louisville, Kentucky, home of the Kentucky Derby, for the next few days. Most cruises include a bus tour of Churchill Downs, where you may see the Kentucky Derby Museum, stroll the track, and see the graves of legendary thoroughbreds, among other things. Following a pit stop in Aurora, Indiana, and another day of slogging. The journey ends in Cincinnati, historically known as the Queen City of the West and one of the busiest ports on the Ohio River during the steamboat era.


When to Go ; From April through November is the best time to visit. The Kentucky Derby takes place in the first week of May, so race enthusiasts should plan their trip around a day at the races.

How long ;  The cruises span eight days and travel from Nashville to Cincinnati.

Planning ; There are a few cruises that run from Cincinnati to Nashville.


Seattle to Alaska

🚢Alaska

Blocks of ice
Blocks of ice, calved from glaciers reaching the sea.

On this voyage to North America, see a world of fjords and humpback whales. The ship cruises through mountains that rise to 15,000 feet (4,575 metres) above sea level, their snowcapped summits mirrored in the fjord's mirror-like waters. Waterfalls tumble down mountain sides, and bald eagles soar overhead. The voyage departs from either Seattle or Vancouver and travels north through the Inside Passage, a 1,000-mile (1,600-kilometer) network of water channels that connects the mainland of British Columbia to the panhandle region of southeastern Alaska and its outlying islands. You'll be engrossed in the passing drama of the shoreline from the deck. Wisps of cloud cling to 3,000-foot (915-meter) cliffs towering from the steely-dark water in Misty Fjords near Ketchikan, at the panhandle's southern extremity. The Tongass National Forest, a temperate rain forest of old conifers and broadleaf trees sustained by the region's moist climate on both sides of the Passage, is one of the world's rarest ecosystems. You cruise further north into Glacier Water, where 16 glaciers reach the sea and calve, sending thousand-year-old, house-sized pieces of ice tumbling into the bay with a deafening roar. Small coastal settlements, hidden around harbours at the foot of mountains, are also visited by the ship, each displaying a variety of influences: Tsimshian, Tlingit, and Haida totem poles; Scandinavian-style structures in reds, oranges, and greens; Klondike gold rush relics; and the domes of a Russian Orthodox cathedral.


When to Go; In May and September, the beginning and finish of the cruise season, ships are less busy. Early September is known for its beautiful weather.

How long; Cruises can run anywhere from 7 to 14 days, but make sure you plan beforehand. Longer journeys may travel the Inside Passage in both directions. Shorter trips may skip parts of the Inside Passage in order to spend more time in remote northern Alaska.

Planning; For the finest vacation options, book a year in advance. Small cruise ships with 50 to 100 guests offer a more personal, nature-based experience.


THE TRENT-SEVERN WATERWAY

🚢Canada

Trent-Severn Waterway
Boasts pass through one of the many lock systems on the Trent-Severn Waterway
This trip into the Canadian countryside is a popular among boaters and nature enthusiasts. This 240-mile (386-kilometer) network of canals, lakes, and rivers connects Trenton on Lake Ontario to the picturesque coasts of Lake Huron's Georgian Bay, forming an easily navigable way through the intimate landscapes north of Toronto. Charming European-style villages, farmlands, mountainous gorges, and sapphire-clear, forest-lined lakes are just a few of the ever-changing scenery that has made this a popular water tour. 

The journey's pace varies from demanding in the easternmost part between Trenton and Frankford—six locks and a height difference of 115 feet (35 metres) to negotiate in just 6 miles (10 kilometers)—to leisurely in the Kawartha Lakes' tangle of canals. These are ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and grilling fresh-caught fish at the lake's edge. In the nearby forests, keep a look out for white-tailed deer and black bears searching for food. 

Because the canals are narrow, no large cruise ships can navigate them. The majority of visitors bring their own boats or rent one. Canoes and kayaks are available for people who enjoy wilderness camping, as well as 50-foot (15-meter) houseboats that provide travellers with the amenities of a nice hotel.

Houseboats are easy to operate and come fully furnished with all of the conveniences of home. For lock transit, boaters must pay a small fee.


When to Go: Late May to October is the best time to visit. Long, warm days characterise late June. September is characterised by bright, sunny days and cold evenings. The finest fishing season is from late September until mid-October, when the leaves change colour.

How long: It takes around seven days to paddle the Trent-Severn under power. The majority of houseboaters go between Peterborough and Lake Simcoe on four to seven-day loops.

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