Historic South and Golden Isles Cruise

Historic South and Golden Isles Cruise

Explore South Carolina and Georgia on a seven-night cruise of the Intracoastal Waterway, with two additional nights in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina. While cruising, choose from many optional excursions, such as carriage and trolley tours, alligator and shrimping tours and more in these ports of call: Beaufort, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina; Savannah and the Golden Isles of St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island, Georgia; and Amelia Island, Florida. On your first-class, small-ship cruising experience, relax in well-appointed, spacious staterooms, and savor an extensive meal program featuring low country and Southern cuisine. Enjoy first-class accommodations in Charleston.

Trip Itinerary:

February 21 Depart gateway city/Charleston, South Carolina

AHI FlexAir passengers depart for Charleston, South Carolina. Please check your luggage from your gateway city to your arrival city. Your claim checks should have the following airport code: CHS.

Arrive at Charleston International Airport. Proceed to the baggage claim area and retrieve your luggage. AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for the group arrival transfer and Land/Cruise Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer should exit the baggage claim area and proceed to the designated meeting spot, where an AHI Travel representative will meet them. The meeting location will be provided with your final documents.

Transfer to the Francis Marion Hotel. Please note that if you arrive at the hotel before check-in time, your room may not be immediately available.

Tonight, meet and mingle with your fellow travelers at a Welcome Reception in the hotel.

Accommodations – Francis Marion Hotel
Meals – Appropriate in-flight meal service

February 22 Charleston

Featured Excursion: Charleston. (No sign-up required.) Bask in romantic, genteel Southern charm in the region’s best-preserved city. Founded by English colonists in 1670, Charleston is considered by many to be a living museum — the scene of Revolutionary War naval battles, legendary pirate tales and Civil War sieges. In the historic district, feel as though you’ve stepped into another era, as horse-drawn carriages amble by on cobblestone streets lined with grand antebellum mansions and palmetto trees. With a guide, stroll to see landmarks including Catfish Row; the brightly painted Georgian row houses on Rainbow Row; and the picturesque Battery promenade, where the Ashley and Cooper Rivers meet.

Take a break for a satisfying lunch at a restaurant in the area.

Free Time: Explore more on your own this afternoon. You may wish to take a ferry to the historic Fort Sumter National Monument in Charleston Harbor, where the first shots of the Civil War rang out in April 1861. Or savor Charleston’s beauty by meandering through magnificent parks like Waterfront Park. The Pineapple Fountain, representing the city’s renowned hospitality, is the perfect spot for a memorable photo!

Accommodations – Francis Marion Hotel
Meals – Breakfast and lunch

February 23 Charleston

Free Time: Spend the morning at leisure in Charleston.

Later, embark the ship and enjoy a delicious lunch on board. During the afternoon, get settled in your stateroom and then familiarize yourself with the ship’s layout and amenities as the ship cruises to Beaufort. Begin your journey on the scenic Intracoastal Waterway, a protected network of bays, rivers and canals.

This evening, gather in the dining room for the Captain’s Welcome and a wonderful dinner filled with the exquisite flavors of the Southeast.

Accommodations – Independence
Meals – Breakfast, lunch and dinner

February 24 Beaufort

Relish the rich heritage and laidback character of Beaufort, voted “The South’s Best Small Town” in 2017 by readers of Southern Living. Its history includes European explorers, Native American cultural influences, British settlements and Civil War battles. Today, horse-drawn carriages clatter along the narrow streets of the historic district, past 18th- and 19th-century homes famous for unique Beaufort-style architecture.

Premium Excursion: Beaufort Carriage Tour. Embark on a tour of Beaufort’s popular Bay Street 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 visit 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 quaint charm on your own.

Premium Excursion: 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 and our resident expert, Evelyn, greets you warmly in her period costume with a welcoming smile. She will remain your guide as we depart for Lady’s Island, St. Helena, where you will explore the grounds and main house of a former plantation. As a special treat, listen to a live performance of soulful plantation-life songs.

Travelers’ Corner: Join your fellow travelers for a casual get-together and enjoy drinks and conversation.

Later this evening, find a cozy chair in the lounge and enjoy an entertaining performance by a local musician.

Accommodations – Independence
Meals – Breakfast, lunch and dinner

February 25 Hilton Head Island

Hilton Head Island is a first-class resort area known for its championship golf courses and 12 miles of pristine beaches.

Premium Excursion: 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 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.

Premium Excursion: Dolphin Cruise. Take a cruise to find out how playful, endearing and amazing bottle-nose dolphins truly are. Not long into your tour, someone will catch sight of a pod of dolphins swimming nearby as they come up for air every few seconds. You will witness dolphins riding alongside the boat, or surfing in the wake behind, so be sure to bring your camera for this excellent opportunity to take some great photos. Your knowledgeable guide will share bottle-nose dolphin facts with you, such as how the shallow waters around the island provide the perfect places for dolphins to find food. With this insight, you’ll appreciate these intelligent creatures even more.

Delight in the evening’s entertainment program while the ship sails to Savannah, where it will overnight.

Accommodations – Independence
Meals – Breakfast, lunch and dinner

February 26 Savannah, Georgia

With its moss-draped oaks, secluded gardens and majestic architecture, the beautiful seaport of Savannah exudes a singular charm that invites exploration. Tour the colorful Victorian District and stroll through nearby Forsyth Park, brave one of the spooky evening ghost tours, or discover unique finds in the shops on City Market and Broughton and Whitaker Streets.

Premium Excursion: Guided Walking Tour. 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 city’s history, your guide will tailor the tour to suit the group’s interests.

Premium Excursion: The 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 collection of fully restored aircraft that helped serve our brave troops during the war. 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.

Premium Excursion: Trolley Tour. 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 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.

Travelers’ Corner: Join your fellow travelers for a casual get-together and enjoy drinks and conversation.

The ship will remain in Savannah for the night.

Accommodations – Independence
Meals – Breakfast, lunch and dinner

February 27 Cruising the Georgia Coast

As you cruise between ports, expansive wildlife refuges and remote islands stretch out before you, offering an extraordinary view of the wilderness of the South.

At dusk on board, settle into a rocking chair on the sun deck and watch a glorious sunset over the quiet marshes and serene bays.

Accommodations – Independence
Meals – Breakfast, lunch and dinner

February 28 St. Simons Island/Jekyll Island

Today, you’ll encounter the pretty landscapes of the Golden Isles, nestled along the Georgia coast. Discover the compelling history of two of these islands, Jekyll and St. Simons. Jekyll Island boasts “Millionaire’s Village,” 240 acres of extravagant homes and winter cottages, now recognized as a National Historic Landmark. St. Simons Island offers a view of the region’s intriguing heritage, including 18th-century battlefields and sprawling, antebellum plantations.

Premium Excursion: St. Simons Island 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. Afterward, visit Christ Church, one of St. Simons most treasured landmarks. The magnificent stained-glass art is sure to impress.

Premium Excursion: Jekyll Island Tour. Aside from its history of wealth and opulence, the geography of Jekyll Island has made it an ideal nesting ground for sea turtles. Your tour begins with a visit to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center where you will view exhibits on sea turtle conservation, rehabilitation and their fascinating journey of life. Following your visit to the center, board a narrated tram tour of Jekyll Island’s Historic District, also called “Millionaire’s Village.” Many of the historic cottages owned by tycoons of the Gilded Age, such as J.P. Morgan, Joseph Pulitzer, Marshall Field, William Rockefeller and Cornelius Vanderbilt, have been restored.

Premium Excursion: Lady Jane Shrimp Boat Tour. After a hearty breakfast, meet your skipper for the day at the gangway of the ship before making your way to the Lady Jane. Relax while the refreshing scent of salt water fills the air as you sail to your captain’s favorite shrimping grounds. As the retired shrimping vessel makes its way through the scenic Marshes of Glynn, south of St. Simons Sound, be on the lookout for wildlife such as dolphins and pelicans. Once you arrive at your captain’s favorite spot, you will have the opportunity to pull in your very own catch!

Travelers’ Corner: Join your fellow travelers for a casual get-together and enjoy drinks and conversation.

Accommodations – Independence
Meals – Breakfast, lunch and dinner

March 1 Amelia Island, Florida

Relish the natural beauty of Amelia Island with its miles of quartz beaches and rolling sand dunes. Fernandina Beach, the island’s only city, harbors a treasure trove of history, antiques and collectibles.

Premium Excursion: Historic Walking Tour. Join a local guide for a leisurely walking tour through the lovely seaport of Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island. Your walk will begin at the City Marina. Continue on to the seafood house and learn about the area’s pelican population and the duties of a fisherman. Next, meander past the many charming, restored Victorian-era homes, inns, churches and much more.

Premium Excursion: Amelia Island River Cruise. Take in the view of Florida’s third-oldest city, Fernandina Beach, on a relaxing riverboat tour. A benefit of touring from the water is the increased chance of seeing the unique marine life that inhabits the water surrounding the island. Your tour will also include the island’s main attractions such as Fort Clinch and the Amelia Island Lighthouse.

Tonight, as your cruise concludes, raise a toast to your exciting journey with newfound friends at a Farewell Reception.

Accommodations – Independence
Meals – Breakfast, lunch and dinner

March 2 Jacksonville | Depart for gateway city

After breakfast, disembark the ship from Amelia Island. AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for a group transfer and Land/Cruise Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer depart for Jacksonville International Airport for your return flights home. Your Travel Director will provide the details.

Meals – Breakfast

NOTE: Itinerary schedule may change due to local conditions. Walking is required on many excursions, and surfaces may be uneven or unpaved, guests should be able to walk through train corridors whether the train is in motion or stopped.

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