Friday, August 1, 2008

Driving to Your Cruise Ship

For passengers–first timers or experienced sailors alike–a cruise vacation is all about choice, flexibility and value. While spectacular new ships tend to grab the headlines and symbolize the remarkable growth and diversity of the industry, a quieter and very timely trend is the growth of domestic ports of embarkation to more than 30, from Anchorage to Jacksonville, Boston to New Orleans. In fact, virtually the entire population of the United States is within driving distance of a cruising homeport. This not only adds significantly to the convenience factor of a cruise vacation–driving to the ship and leaving the car a short walking distance away–but can also represent significant savings during times of economic uncertainty, even allowing for the high price of gasoline.

When the modern cruise industry began in the 1960’s, the vast majority of voyages departed from a handful of big city ports, notably New York, Miami and Los Angeles. Today, cruisers can choose an itinerary from such East Coast embarkation points as Bangor, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Norfolk, Charleston, Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Port Canaveral, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami. Passengers embarking in the New York metropolitan area have three ports to choose from: Manhattan, Brooklyn and across the Hudson River in New Jersey. On the West Coast the choices include four ports in Alaska, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. On the Gulf Coast, cruisers can opt for such cities as Galveston, New Orleans, Mobile, and Tampa.

Equally significant, the cruises offered from these domestic ports represent the entire spectrum of the cruise experience: large ships and small; the newest vessels; itineraries in Alaska, Mexico, Canada/New England, Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Caribbean, the Panama Canal, even transatlantic and world cruises and adventure voyages. In short, you can find a convenient domestic port of embarkation for virtually any kind of cruise you want.

“No other type of vacation offers the variety of experiences–worldwide destinations, diverse itineraries, varying cruise lengths, types of ships, different onboard experiences, and shore side activities–that the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) fleet provides,” said Terry Dale, president and CEO of CLIA. “The aim is to enable every vacationer to choose the cruise that is exactly right for individual tastes, interests and budget. A big part of that for millions of travelers is having a departure port close to home.”

Find out more about embarkation ports at

Port of Long Beach Image Courtesy of Andy Newman/CCL
Additional Information Courtesy of CLIA

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