Great Cruise Opportunities Closer to Home – Plenty of options for ocean, river and lake cruising exist right in our own backyard.

Let’s face it: Air travel is no longer the joy it once was.
But cruise travel most definitely still is.
Thankfully, for those living in the United States, there are plenty of options to take a great cruise without the need to ever hop on a plane, and they range from the largest cruise ship in the world to some of the most intimate cruising experiences.
Miami: The Cruise Capital of the World
Floridians often rejoice over their many homeports accessible from the east or the west. However, Miami remains the cruise capital of the world, with some of the biggest ocean ships frequently pick up thousands upon thousands of new passengers each and every week.
Because of its status, most of the newest ships slated for the North American market end up here too.
Soon to be the largest ship in the world when it launches in 2018, Royal Caribbean International’s Symphony of the Seas will be the newest and biggest ship sailing from Miami by November of next year.
Other Domestic Homeports
Of course, Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas holds the title as the biggest cruise ship for the time being, and that one is based out of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Remarkably, Florida also has Port Canaveral and Jacksonville on its east coast plus Tampa on the west.
In other words, there are plenty of other options outside of Miami for those who wish to drive to instead of fly to their port of embarkation.
Farther north are opportunities to depart from Baltimore, Maryland; Boston, Massachusetts; Charleston, South Carolina; Norfolk, Virginia and, of course, New Jersey and New York. In the south, there are also Mobile, Alabama; New Orleans, Louisiana and Galveston, Texas. On the west coast, cruisers can leave from Seward and Whittier, Alaska; Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, California and Seattle, Washington.
Last but not least is the chance for islanders of the 50th state to travel directly from Honolulu (Oahu), Hawaii.
What’s more, most ocean cruise ships leaving from a US homeport are required to call on at least one foreign port prior to returning to the States. This stems from a law for passenger vessels registered outside of the US, (and the vast majority of cruise ships are). Thus, it’s necessary to have the proper documentation to sail onboard.
One notable exception is Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America, which is regionally registered and permitted to sail exclusively within the Hawaiian islands.
Rivers and Lakes
Not all cruise vacations sail only on the ocean from the United States, however. There are also river cruises and lake cruises that depart from our shores.
Among available waterways are the Mississippi, Columbia and Snake rivers as well as the Great Lakes and more. Cruise lines making these rounds include American Cruise Lines, American Queen Steamboat Company, National Geographic Expeditions, Pearl Seas Cruises and UnCruise Adventures.
These cruises starkly contrast those on mega ocean ships, with passenger complements sometimes under a hundred people. Not only are these vessels more intimate but so are usually the ports situated at quieter towns. Adventures also await in many instances for those wishing for a little more excitement, such as speedy boat jaunts into Hells Canyon along the borders of Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
Best of Both Worlds
If you can’t choose between a local river or ocean cruise, there’s always the option of doing both back to back.
Consider New Orleans, Louisiana as a departure port for the Mississippi River and the Caribbean Sea. Enjoy a weeklong ocean voyage joined with another weeklong river journey for a mighty fine hybrid vacation—all without the need to fly, of course.

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