American Cruise Lines

Cruise the East Coast Inland Passage through a rich past that has influenced our country since the days of early exploration. Enjoy the maritime spirit of Baltimore aboard the decks of celebrated ships and Norfolk where tall schooners share waters with naval vessels. Continue in Kitty Hawk and hear the fascinating story of the Wright brothers’ first flight. View mansions on a narrated trolley tour through Wilmington’s historic district. After departing Myrtle Beach, arrive in Charleston, a city with a blend of antebellum architecture, cobblestone streets, flickering lanterns, and historic landmarks. Step back in time in Beaufort, and learn about living on a southern plantation from an expert who greets you in period costume. Explore Savannah with its renowned historic districts that preserve 19th Century wealth and opulence. Learn the history of Jekyll Island once owned by the wealthiest men in America. I’ve been in Baltimore and Norfolk back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but not to the other ports at all.

Day 1, Fri, Nov 1, Baltimore, MD
There is no “complimentary” pre-cruise day. I’ll have to book a hotel for the night of the 1st.

This trip is in mid-latter November. What is the weather going to be like??? I will have to schedule the SuperShuttle pickup about 5AM. I am flying in a day early (extra night hotel needed) to have time to go explore the Inner Harbor and maybe Fort McHenry – either this afternoon, or early tomorrow before we embark. I’m flying into the Baltimore / Washington Airport since the cruise starts in Baltimore.

United UA 1801IAH – Baltimore/Wash7:35A-11:473:12

Take a taxi 10 miles from the airport to the hotel, the Hyatt-Regency Inner Harbor, which puts me right in the middle of where I most want to see/visit. I should get there about 1pm and will have a few hours this afternoon to see things though by November it gets dark fairly early.

Day 2, Sat, Nov 2, Baltimore, MD
Baltimore is bustling with excitement, colonial history and a rejuvenated maritime spirit. There is only a short time to see much of anything before it is time to head for the "cattle barge." Explore its history aboard the decks of celebrated ships and on the cobbled streets of the charming waterfront Inner Harbor, or visit Fort McHenry, where Francis Scott Key was inspired to pen "The Star-Spangled Banner". There is only a short time to see much of anything before it is time to head for the "cattle barge" about 11. There is no pre-cruise local tour.

I have to be onboard by 1PM. Check out and take a taxi about one mile to the barge about 10:30 or 11. Getting onboard about noon, is lunch included? There will be the usual safety drill and some kind of Disorientation meeting / presentation before we are allowed to go to the Feeding Trough. Is there another presentation after dinner?

Day 3, Sun, Nov 3, Norfolk, VA
Located at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, Norfolk has enjoyed a dramatic history dating back to 1607, when British settlers first arrived on American shores. Today, the city embraces its colorful past while thriving as a modern metropolis. Tall schooners share the surrounding waters with naval vessels and oystermen. Enjoy tours of historic districts, museums, restored homes and the Norfolk Naval Station.

Narrated Beach Tour
Explore Virginia Beach on a riding tour. This guided bus tour includes stops at the Old Cape Henry Lighthouse as well as the breathtaking Norfolk Botanical Gardens, which are made up of 155 beautiful acres intertwined by bridges, coastal waterways, and 12 miles of pedestrian trails.

** Narrated Bus Tour
Enjoy a historic, narrated bus tour of the city including the Norfolk Navy Base, the largest naval installation in the world. Ride through Norfolk's lovely historic district and restored areas dating back over 300 years. The tour will also stop at the MacArthur Memorial, a memorial celebrating Army General Douglas MacArthur, one of the most controversial figures in American history.

Day 4, Mon, Nov 4, Kitty Hawk, NC
Learn about the birth of flight in Kitty Hawk, where the Wright Brothers successfully piloted sustained powered flights in the first incarnations of modern airplanes.

** Wright Brothers Memorial
Learn about the history, legends and lore of the Outer Banks as you travel to the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, NC. Enjoy an introduction by a park ranger and learn about the fascinating history of aviation that took place at this site. After the introduction, tour the Visitor Center, where the Wright brothers' story is told through exhibits and reproductions. You may also climb Big Kill Devil Hill for a breathtaking view of the area from sound to sea.

Day 5, Tue, Nov 5, CruZZZing
Enjoy a leisurely day of cruZZZing as you continue your journey through the East Coast Inland Passage. “Delight” in views of the shoreline or relax in one of the ship's lounges.

Day 6, Wed, Nov 6, Beaufort, NC / Morehead City, NC
Tour the meticulously restored town of Beaufort, NC. Beaufort is the third oldest town in North Carolina and has a 21-block historic district that includes a boardwalk lined with boats on one side and unique shops perfect for browsing on the other. Just across the Newport River is Morehead City which is always bustling with boat activity.

Beaufort City and House Tour
From atop a 1967 English double-decker bus, local narrators weave stories about Beaufort’s past, featuring pirates, star-crossed lovers, and Confederate spies. After you finish making your way through the historic district, you will visit two of Beaufort’s most beautiful historic homes. Depending on the timing, maybe I can do this in the morning, and the Museum in the afternoon.

Other Morehead City Attractions
* N.C. Maritime Museum

This museum is dedicated to the coastline of North Carolina, displayed through exhibits and various education programs. Take a tour and see many artifacts from the ocean, including an exhibit featuring the travels of the infamous pirate Blackbeard.

* National Park Service Cape Lookout
A trip to this lookout is well-worth the three-mile boat ride. Discover North Carolina’s coastline from off-shore on this island, home to many fishermen and whalers since its establishment in 1966.

Day 7, Thu, Nov 7, Wilmington, NC
Founded in 1739, Wilmington prospered during its early years as a major port and ship-building center. Today, the city continues to flourish and boasts an outstanding reputation as a leader in preservation efforts. Explore Georgian, Victorian and antebellum-style homes restored to their original grandeur. Stroll through beautiful gardens and city streets lined with shopping venues.

City Tour & Bellamy Mansion
Take a narrated trolley tour of Wilmington’s historic district where you can view numerous historical sites and magnificent mansions. Following the tour, you will visit Bellamy Mansion, one of North Carolina’s most spectacular examples of antebellum architecture. Make sure you take the time to browse the many attractions within walking distance from the ship. This tour just doesn’t appeal to me at all.

Other Wilmington Attractions
** Wilmington Blackwater Adventure

Remaining largely unpopulated since its inception in the late 17th century, Cape Fear has become an intriguing region to visit during a stop in Wilmington. As you travel by boat from the Rose Hill Plantation to the mysterious Black River, you will hear stories of early explorers that illuminate the history of this enigmatic region.

Day 8, Fri, Nov 8, Myrtle Beach, SC
Recognized as one of America's most spectacular beaches, Myrtle Beach is an exciting city with dazzling theaters and unique shops located on Broadway on the Beach. Its fascinating lakeside entertainment includes the Grand Strand with over 100 specialty shops, the Palace Theatre and Ripley's Aquarium.

St. Simons Tour
St. Simons Island is the largest of the Golden Isles and has a deep-rooted history spanning over four centuries. Nowhere is the island’s rich history better told or preserved than the Bloody Marsh Battle Site or Christ Church. Our lively private tour guide, Bunny, will take you through the battlegrounds and explain the military strategies employed by both sides. Afterwards, visit Christ Church, one of St. Simons most treasured landmarks. The magnificent stained glass art is sure to impress.

Day 9, Sat, Nov 9, Charleston, SC
This is the only port that is also on the Oceania cruise next April. The port city of Charleston is known for its cobblestone streets, gas-lit lamps, and pastel antebellum houses. The scene of Revolutionary War naval battles, legendary pirate tales, and Civil War sieges, it is considered by many to be a living museum. Visit historic Fort Sumter National Monument, where the first shots of the Civil War rang out. Learn how Charleston’s African-American heritage has contributed to the city’s history and unique culture. Enjoy the beauty of the area with a stroll through magnificent parks and gardens.

No excursions are currently listed for this port. The Charleston City Tour is offered only for cruises ending in Charleston. So do I just stay onboard and wait until next April to see things?

Day 10, Sun, Nov 10, Beaufort, SC
Beaufort’s history includes European explorers, Native American inhabitants, British settlements and Civil War battles. Today, horse-drawn carriages bring you through the narrow streets of this district, past 18th and 19th century homes, famous for unique Beaufort-style architecture. View historic forts, elegant homes and majestic plantations and discover why Beaufort was once heralded as the “Newport of the South."

* Low-Country Heritage Tour
Take a step back in time as we visit scenic Beaufort, and explore what life was like living on a southern plantation. The experience begins the moment we dock when you will be introduced to our resident expert, Evelyn. She will greet you warmly in her period-specific hoop-skirt and with a welcoming smile. Evelyn will remain with as your guide as we depart for Lady’s Island, St. Helena where you will walk the grounds of a former plantation. Explore the main plantation house, manicured grounds, and as a special treat, be entertained by a live performance that highlights some of the soulful plantation-life songs. In the evening, Evelyn will return to the ship to perform a memorable private onboard concert for everyone to enjoy.

Carriage Tour
After a southern inspired luncheon, embark on a tour of Beaufort’s popular Bay St. from the comfort of a horse-drawn carriage. This narrated journey follows the historic tree-lined streets of Beaufort as you make your way to the area’s antebellum homes, parks, and shops. Many of the local buildings remain untouched and are preserved as they were originally constructed after being used as hospitals, offices, and commander’s quarters during the Civil War. At the conclusion of the tour, you will have free time to experience Beaufort and its southern charm on your own.

Other Beaufort Attractions
* The Parris Island Museum

This free museum is perfect for the military buffs in your travel group. A large collection of artifacts and exhibits will highlight the history of the United States Marine Corps.

Day 11, Mon, Nov 11, Hilton Head, SC
Hilton Head is a first class resort known for its championship golf courses and miles of pristine beaches. A boat tour of The Sea Pines Forest Preserve gives you a close-up view of Hilton Head's indigenous plant and animal life, including the American Alligator.

** Wildlife Tour
We will anchor in Hilton Head and tender into shore, where you will be greeted by our local guide for one of our most popular shore excursions in the area. Embark on a private boat tour of the Sea Pines Resort Forest Preserve. This 600-acre preserve features some of Hilton Head’s many indigenous plants and animal species, including the native American alligator. Your guide will provide an engaging and educational tour while you enjoy the breathtaking views of the freshwater lake. In the afternoon, take time to explore Hilton Head’s popular shopping district or relax back on board before the evening’s entertainment.

Day 12, Tue, Nov 12, Savannah, GA
With its emerald tree canopy, quaint cobblestone streets, and majestic architecture, Savannah is a bustling seaport with renowned historic districts that preserve its 19th Century opulence. Join a narrated tour of Savannah’s “Historic and Victorian Districts," brave an evening Ghost Walk.

** Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum
The Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum houses an impressive collection of WWII aviation memorabilia. Upon entering the museum, you will immediately be awed by the breathtaking collection of fully restored aircraft that helped serve our brave troops during the war. You will be welcomed by a tour guide who will provide the group with an overview of the museum and a brief history lesson regarding the famed Eighth Air Force Division. After introductions, you are welcome to either experience the museum on a self-guided tour or stay with your guide to be personally escorted around the museum grounds. Your visit includes an educational film, engaging World War II exhibits, airman memorials, and the rare collection of planes that served the Mighty Eighth men and women.

Trolley Tour of Savannah
Our ship will dock directly in the famous River Street area, known for open-air shopping, world-class restaurants, and southern hospitality. On the dock, meet your guide who will take you on a personalized tour of the areas’ most popular attractions including Factor’s Walk, the Cotton Exchange, and the various squares that make up the city. After the tour, you can retreat to the boat or continue to explore the city on your own. As part of the trolley tour experience, you can continue to use the trolley system throughout the remainder of the day. Trolleys run all day and meet at designated spots within the city limits.

Guided Walking Tour
NO THANKS. Amid the bustling River Street section of Savannah, you will meet with our local guide who will lead the group on a narrated walking tour of historic Savannah. Visit key attractions including Savannah’s oldest neighborhood, Colonial Park Cemetery, the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, and a few of Savannah’s 22 squares that provide greenery amid all of the businesses and historic houses. As you explore the various gardens, admire the architecture, and learn about the city’s history, your guide will tailor the tour to suit the group’s interests.

Day 13, Wed, Nov 13, Sapelo Island, GA
Experience the forested uplands, salt marshes, and beach dune systems as you spend the day in Sapelo Island. Take a narrated island tour to visit the top attractions of Sapelo's Hog Hammock Community, the local lighthouse, and the mansion of the last millionaire to own the island, R.J. Reynolds.

Narrated Island Tour
NO THANKS. As you tender in from just offshore, you will have a grand view of the Sapelo Island Lighthouse on your way to meet up with “J.R.,” your private local guide for the day. Once you arrive, he will take you on a tour of the island, including a stop at the famous R.J. Reynolds mansion. After your visit to this 29 bedroom estate, partake in a delicious oyster roast before tendering back to the ship.

Day 14, Thu, Nov 14, St. Simon's Island, GA
St. Simons Island offers guests a view of the area’s rich past, including the momentous 18th century battlefields and sprawling, antebellum plantations. Enjoy its diverse wild live as well as the moss-draped oaks that shade walkways. Make sure to visit St. Simons Lighthouse, which houses a fantastic museum devoted to the history of the Georgia Coast.

* St. Simons Tour
St. Simons Island is the largest of the Golden Isles and has a deep-rooted history spanning over four centuries. Nowhere is the island’s rich history better told or preserved than the Bloody Marsh Battle Site or Christ Church. Our lively private tour guide, Bunny, will take you through the battlegrounds and explain the military strategies employed by both sides. Afterwards, visit Christ Church, one of St. Simons most treasured landmarks. The magnificent stained glass art is sure to impress.

Day 15, Fri, Nov 15, Jekyll Island, GA
Discover the fascinating history of Jekyll Island. At the end of the 19th century, wealthy men in America, including J.P. Morgan, William Rockefeller and Cornelius Vanderbilt, purchased the entire island as a hunting resort prized for its “splendid isolation." Today, Jekyll Island is part of Georgia’s Sea Isles and boasts “Millionaire’s Village,” - 240 acres of extravagant homes and winter cottages recognized as a National Historic Landmark.

* Jekyll Island Tram Tour & Sea Turtle Center
Aside from its renowned history of wealth and opulence, the geography of Jekyll Island has made it an ideal nesting ground for sea turtles. Your adventure will begin with a self-guided tour of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, where you learn about the hardships of a young sea turtle as it grows from an egg to adulthood. Afterward, take a tram tour of the Jekyll Island Historic District and learn all about the Jekyll Island Club, once named “the richest, most inaccessible club in the world,” and even tour one of the famed mansions on the island.

Day 16, Sat, Nov 16, Jacksonville, FL area (Amelia Island)
Take in the beautiful (in late November?) weather of northern Florida as you disembark from your tour of the South at 8:30 and head for the airport for the flight home. Transfer pre-purchased. ACL says flights after 11 should be fine.

United UA 3805Jacksonville - IAH11:45 – 12:552:10

Home about 2:30, maybe.


The INDEPENDENCE will offer guests the same style of cruising that has become the hallmark of American Cruise Lines. From small towns to gracious ports, the Independence will bring guests to places of historic interest and magnificent beauty. Onboard, each guest will be able to unwind in the friendly atmosphere, serviced by an all-American staff.

Passengers: 100; Crew: 26; Length: 188’; Beam: 45’; Speed: 14k

Complimentary Wi-Fi
Satellite TV and DVD player in all staterooms
Open Picture Window
Private balconies
Elevator access to all decks
Grand dining room accommodates all guests together (no optional buffet or café)
Evening entertainment focuses on music and history
Onboard historians and naturalists

Life onboard revolves around two things: going ashore in port every day, and the friendly ambience highlighted by the 5:30 p.m. cocktail hour (are diet cokes available?) with dinner and a lecture following. Open seating in the dining room encourages everyone to mix. Nightly talks given by the guest lecturer or river historian are eagerly anticipated and well attended.

With the destination so much a part of each cruise, there is usually only a morning or afternoon sailing each day -- otherwise you are tied up at the dock. Shore excursions are available for an additional fee on the coastal cruises. Tours are scheduled for nearly every port, and they may be as simple as a two-hour town walk with a local historian or a bus tour to a museum or beauty spot. They are sometimes fairly priced between $20 and $50. Docking in the center of town means independent exploring is possible, allowing those who want the opportunity to wander off on their own.

Breakfast features freshly baked breads and muffins, and lunch and dinner feature fresh pies with, for example, fresh Maine blueberries in the summer season (but November isn't summer). Lunch is generally a light meal and runs to soups, salads, sandwiches and wraps. Dinner is traditional American cuisine, usually prepared with some ambitious and creative offerings on the menu. Regional American fare is the norm.

Cabin: Single staterooms offer the solo traveler a quiet enclave to rest and relax. Our Single suites feature twin sized beds, spacious bathrooms, and your own private balcony. They are 248 square ft. There are only 4 of them, in purple on deck 3. My cabin is #320. I am on the starboard side so will be able to watch the mainland as we cruise south.

Pre-Cruise Hotel: Hyatt-Regency Baltimore Inner-Harbor (10 miles from the airport) offers a refreshing hotel experience for business and vacation travelers. Our Baltimore Inner Harbor hotel offers rooms overlooking the scenic harbor. A comfortable urban hotel on the Inner Harbor waterfront, it is only “a couple of blocks” to the Inner Harbor itself. Complimentary Wi-Fi.