No doubt travel is going to be quite different as we adjust to life during and after the coronavirus pandemic.
We think more people are bound to choose driving trips within their own countries until they feel more confident that they can safely travel by trains or in planes. That's what we're looking to do for the rest of 2020, with plans to visit friends and family via relaxing drives to Wisconsin, New York, New England and North Carolina.
We do plan to dip our toes into a bit of air travel, as well, with trips on the books to go to Las Vegas and Scottsdale, Arizona. We're hopeful but not certain that the process won't be too painful to get through the airport while navigating any new rules for screening, social distancing and face coverings.
Leaving the country is a whole different ball game, however. I really don't want to face the hassles and unknown factors involved with possible 14-day quarantines upon arrival to a new destination. Also, there is no guarantee the rules or conditions won't change in the middle of our trips, leaving the whole experience stressful and unpleasant.
No, there are too many unknowns for me to recommend heading overseas at this point in time -- as we approach summer 2020. I am hopeful that this virus will go away fairly soon and we'll all be fully enjoying our lives and travels again. It could happen, right?
You know that we have always enjoyed cruising as a fun and interesting way to travel. And no matter what the immediate future holds and whether international travel becomes too cumbersome to enjoy, we think you can still enjoy a cruise vacation by taking advantage of several U.S. ports that are located with a short drive away.
While these will serve as fantastic options for cruise lovers and travelers to consider while we transition out of the pandemic era, these drive-to ports are always a great way to save money on travel.
If you live close enough to easily drive to any of these cities, you can save a bundle on airfare and hotels, which traditionally take a big bite out of a travel budget.
Envision yourself easing into a cruise vacation without having to endure the inconvenience, cost and frequent frustrations from everything that goes into flying to your embarkation city -- getting to and from the airport, parking, early arrival, TSA screening lines, flight delays (or cancellations) and pricy hotel stays.
If you're fortunate and live close enough to drive to a port for your cruise, you can simply hop into your own vehicle and be aboard your ship within a few hours. No airport security, no waiting for your luggage (or lost items) or hefty costs of flying.
You realize that the less you spend to get to your ship, the more you'll have in your pocket to fully enjoy your cruise. Plus, you can probably afford to take more cruises, more often when you live close to these ports. Here are our eight best U.S. cruise ports that you can drive to for your cruise.
Baltimore. Baltimore Cruise Terminal is designed for the "drive-to" cruiser. Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line offer itineraries out of Baltimore Cruise Port, a facility that features a vast amount of parking and is located within an hour of Annapolis, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.
The voyages sail out of the city to the Bahamas, Bermuda, Caribbean and Canada/New England. It's a gorgeous sail away as your ship makes its way along the Chesapeake Bay and past lighthouses, forts and beautiful bridges.
Boston. Out-of-towners would be well served to spend an extra day or two before or after their cruise. Boston is a spectacular city filled with great history, culture, food, sports and museums that you won't want to miss.
Boston's Black Falcon Cruise Terminal (also known as CruisePort) serves more than 500,000 passengers a year and offers cruise itineraries from April to November, with roundtrips to Bermuda and leaf-peeping cruises to Canada/New England, as well as long voyages to the Caribbean and Europe. Ships from Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean and Seabourn call Boston's CruisePort home.
Charleston, South Carolina. The city is less than a five-hour drive from Atlanta, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Jacksonville, Florida. Charleston owns a rich history, and South Carolina's largest city if full of charms. Visitors delight in indulging in Southern Low-Country cooking and exploring the cobblestone streets to explore the pastel-colored pre-Civil War homes. Try a horse-carriage ride for a special romantic outing. This city offers a range of historic sites (Fort Sumter), plantations, parks and museums.
Carnival Cruise Line places ships in Charleston (Carnival Sunshine as of 2020) that sail itineraries in the Caribbean, Bahamas and Bermuda.
Galveston, Texas. Just an hour from Houston and less than four hours from San Antonio, voyages from Port of Galveston take you through the Gulf of Mexico and southward to the Caribbean. Expect your ship to filled with plenty of cruisers from the Lone Star state, as well as neighboring states Louisiana and Arkansas.
Galveston is a fun island city with much to enjoy. Check out the Historic Pleasure Pier amusement park, which is filled with restaurants, shops, rides and other entertainment and amusement.
Port of Galveston is the homeport for ships from Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and Disney Cruise Line. You can find cruise itineraries all year long to the Caribbean and Bahamas.
Mobile, Alabama. Mobile Alabama Cruise Terminal is situated in the heart of downtown on scenic Mobile Bay, so you're close to eateries and attractions such as the Battleship Alabama, History Museum of Mobile and bustling Dauphin Street. The facility features a convenient 500-space attached parking structure.
Mobile is the home port to Carnival Fantasy, which offers mostly four- to six-day cruises to Mexico and the Western Caribbean, visiting destinations like Grand Cayman, Roatan (Honduras), Progreso and Cozumel.
New Orleans. The Big Easy offers a great gateway to fun, via the vibrant French Quarter and its jazz music, dancing, food and festivals, as well as through its cruise port.
The Port of New Orleans is located in the heart of the city, with easy access to the French Quarter, downtown and popular museums and gardens. The port has parking facilities at each of the terminals, with the cost to park just over $20 a day.
Carnival Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line offer ocean cruises from New Orleans to the Bahamas and Caribbean. This is also an embarkation point for Mississippi River cruises with American Queen Steamboat Company, Viking Cruises and American Cruise Line.
New York City/New Jersey. Cruisers have three options for sailing out of the Big Apple and along the scenic Hudson River past a majestic skyline that is filled with bridges, skyscrapers and the Statue of Liberty.
New York is home to millions of people -- with millions more in the immediate region within an easy drive. Visitors enjoy limitless choices of sightseeing, dining and entertainment. Plan to stay a few extra days to explore the city properly.
Visit Central Park, catch a Broadway show, check out the Museum of Modern Art and take a boat ride out to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Manhattan Cruise Terminal at Pier 88 and Pier 90 on the Hudson River welcomes ships year-round from Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas, Crystal Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and others. Sailings go all over the world, with transatlantic crossing to Europe, voyages to Canada/New England, the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Caribbean.
Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, in Red Hook close to Governor's Island, is home to Cunard's Queen Mary 2 and Princess ships. And Cape Liberty Cruise Port, in Bayonne, N.J., is at the footsteps of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. You can sail on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises' ships.
New York City is a special destination that owns a special aura and energy, and the best part of sailing from these cruise ports are evening departures that take you up the river and past the shimmering Lady Liberty and the iconic city skyline.
Tampa, Florida. Port Tampa Bay offers a nice small-town feel. It's easy to get around, with hotels and restaurants conveniently located close to your ship. You'll drive to the city to join your cruise, and you'll likely want to stay an extra day to enjoy the activities and attractions. Perhaps you'll want to explore Busch Gardens or grab a meal in the historic quarter of Ybor City.
Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, MSC Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line offer cruises from Tampa to itineraries all over the Caribbean. There is plenty of affordable parking at surface lots and in garages close to the port.
Thanks for reading,