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Hitting the High Seas? First, Hit the Road
by Roy Witman © 2010

What's not to love about cruising? Five-star dining, exotic excursions and extravagant entertainment equate to a near-perfect vacation. Once you feel the ocean breeze in your hair and have that frosty margarita in hand, your worries are forgotten. But when you think about coordinating travel arrangements, the thought is enough to take the wind out of your sails.

If you love cruising but hate the logistical nightmare and outrageous price of flying, there is now a better alternative: finding a departure port within driving distance of home.

Homeports = Significant Savings + Increased Convenience

A drivable homeport makes cruising more economical and convenient than ever. Once limited to select waterfront cities such as Miami or New York, a growing number of ports are now within driving distance of many cities across the U.S.

Take Carnival Cruise Lines for example: they have more than 20 ports all around the world, and 18 in the U.S. alone, including:

Seattle, WA
Los Angeles, CA
San Diego, CA
Galveston, TX
Mobile, AL
New Orleans, LA
Tampa, FL
New York, NY
Baltimore, MD
Norfolk, VA
Charleston, SC
Jacksonville, FL
Port Canaveral, FL
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Miami, FL
Anchorage, AK
Honolulu, HI
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Vancouver, Canada
Ensenada, Mexico

By driving to one of these cities, you could drastically reduce your overall vacation expenses.

The ability to stretch your vacation dollar is priceless-as is the convenience factor of coordinating logistics. The hassles of air travel have gotten worse with strict regulations, charges for checked bags and hidden fees. When you couple that with potential weather delays, missed connections or lost luggage, it's enough to make any traveler dreaming of a cruise settle for a staycation.

Besides the value of cost-savings and convenience, close-by port cities offer yet another benefit: they're incredible destinations full of great sightseeing opportunities. Seattle and Charleston are two examples of homeport cities with a rich array of activities.

Charleston: Where Colonial History Meets the New South

Known for its historical lure and southern charm, Charleston, SC consistently ranks as one of the top 10 tourism destinations in the world by Conde Nast magazine. There's so much to see and do in Charleston, you're going to want to leave some time to drive in, park your car and explore this much-loved city before you board your ship. You can enjoy many activities customized for your interests:

*The Market is an open-air shopping market popular with both residents and tourists. For more upscale shopping, don't miss the chic experience of King Street with its fashionable boutiques and stores.

*Magnolia Plantation and The Charleston Museum are perfect for history buffs and will transport you back in time.

*Battery Park is a beautiful waterfront park with incredible views of Fort Sumter, Castle Pinckney and the Sullivan Island Lighthouse. It comes alive with its vivid history and stories of pirates, sunken treasure legends and Civil War heroes.

Seattle: A Progressive City with a Laid-Back Attitude

Seattle, WA is another vibrant homeport city. Known for its energetic music scene and tantalizing coffee shops, the city offers something to delight every sense. Seattle is perfect for visiting either before or after your cruise. You will have a range of activities to choose from:

*Space Needle is an icon for Seattle. Take an elevator ride up to the observation deck to experience the city's spectacular views.

*Pike Place Market is a world-famous attraction where you can check out the original Starbucks, visit a farmer's market and purchase antiques and handmade crafts.

*The Seattle Center Campus houses not only the Space Needle and other attractions, but also Paul Allen's Experience Music Project, an interactive music museum that features Jimi Hendrix memorabilia, multi-media exhibits and hands-on music activities.

Thanks to the growing trend of homeports opening within driving distance of your city, the opportunity to take a cruise is more attainable, economical, and attractive than before. So book your cruise, pack your bag and relax- it'll be smooth sailing ahead.

Read more about the Carnival Cruise Line.

*We can't publicly discount Carnival Cruises on our web site. Please call ( 800.803.7245) for the best price.