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Homeport Cruises 101

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By: Andrew Hickey, Amber Nolan & Elissa Richard

Now, more than ever, travelers are seeking out vacation options that offer the best bang for their buck. And time and time again, a cruise vacation from a nearby “homeport” tops this list not only for its tremendous value, but for its sensible convenience, too. With a surplus of cost-conscious cruise lines operating in a healthy state of competition, our expert deal hunters have seen bargain cruises sell for as little as $99 of late, ranging from one-night dinner-and-dancing “cruises to nowhere” to quickie trips to the Bahamas. Even for more exotic and lengthy sailings to locales like Hawaii or Latin America, it’s rare to see cruise starting rates quoted above triple digits (there seems to be a psychological barrier that the cruise companies don’t wish to cross by pricing base rates above $999). Good luck stretching your dollar that far – with lodging, meals, transportation, and many activities thrown in – back on land. Plus, save loads of cash by skipping out on the expensive international or long-haul domestic flights and opting for ground transportation or quick flights to nearby homeports instead.

You’ll find that the landscape of homeport cruising has expanded quite dramatically over the last decade, with hundreds of itineraries disembarking from some 30 U.S. and Canadian homeports right in your own backyard – we’ve set out here to road map the options for your perfect cruise vacation. We’ve also outlined what to expect from each of the homeports, so you’ll know which ones are worth tacking on an extra day or two in – from stretching out on sandy Florida beaches to star-spotting in LA, the vacation can easily continue (or start up) on dry ground.

Read on for regional overviews to homeport cruises from the Northeast; the Southeast with Florida; the Gulf Coast; California; the Pacific Northwest with Alaska; and Hawaii. We’ve also outlined some top tips on booking homeport cruise vacations

Cruises from the Northeast

Cruisers from the Northeastern region of the United States are presented with a surprisingly diverse mélange of itineraries and cruise ship options, with departure ports available from four major coastal cities, as well as from a duo of Canadian ports just over the border. While New England and Canadian combo itineraries reign supreme in late summer and fall, homeport cruises to sunny ports of call in Bermuda, the Bahamas, and Caribbean dominate the cruise calendar over the remainder of the year. Meanwhile, Cunard’s luxury ships (based in Brooklyn) beckon with white-glove service and transatlantic sailings that recall the glory cruise days of yesteryear.

What homeports can I sail from?

* Baltimore
* Boston
* Montreal
* New York City
* Portland
* Quebec City

What cruise destinations can I sail to? 

* Bahamas (from Baltimore, New York)
* Caribbean (from Baltimore, Boston, Montreal, New York, Quebec City)
* Bermuda (from Baltimore, Boston, New York, Quebec City)
* Mexico & Central America (from New York)
* New England & Canada (from Baltimore, Boston, Montreal, New York, Portland, Quebec City)
* Panama Canal (from New York)
* Transatlantic & Europe (from Boston, New York)
* World (from New York)


PORT OVERVIEW: BALTIMORE
Native blue crabs seasoned with Old Bay are reason enough to visit Baltimore, but there’s much more to experience in this waterfront town. Take, for example, the city’s revitalized Inner Harbor area; the upscale neighborhood of Mount Vernon, home to the nation’s first large-scale Washington Monument; and Harbor East, where a number of hotels and restaurants are opening their doors.

Cruise Terminal: Baltimore Cruise Terminal

Destination Cruise Lines Length of Sailing Departures
Bahamas  Carnival, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean   7 – 10 nts     Year-round
Bermuda   Carnival, Royal Caribbean 5 – 7 nts Apr – Nov
Caribbean Carnival, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean 7 – 14 nts    Year-round

New England & Canada

Royal Caribbean 8 – 9 nts   June – Oct

 

 

 

 

 

Find cruise deals from Baltimore with ShermansTravel.com’s Travel Search.

PORT OVERVIEW: BOSTON
With a resurgence in fine dining and top-notch shopping options, and a nightlife scene ranging from raucous to refined, Beantown’s present is just as appealing as its storied past. Indeed, though deeply rooted in history, today’s Boston is as cosmopolitan as ever.

Cruise Terminal: Cruiseport Boston

Destination Cruise Lines Length of Sailing Departures
Bermuda   Norwegian     7 nts May – Sept
Caribbean (Repositioning)  Norwegian, Royal Caribbean 13 – 15 nts Oct
New England & Canada Holland America, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean  7 – 14 nts May – Oct

Northern Europe (Repositioning) 

Holland America 17+ nts   Oct

 

 

 

 

 

Find cruise deals from Boston with ShermansTravel.com’s Travel Search.

 

PORT OVERVIEW: MONTREAL
The world’s second largest French-speaking city, Montreal presents a captivating mélange of old-world charm infused with the up-to-the-minute energy of North America’s most modern cities. Set on the St. Lawrence River, this Canadian metropolis comprises an easily accessible patchwork of lively neighborhoods, each with its own unique joie de vivre.

Cruise Terminal: Port of Montreal

Destination 
Cruise Line
Length of Sailing 
Departures
Caribbean (Repositioning) Holland America, Regent 13+ nts  May – Oct
New England & Canada Crystal, Holland America, Silversea 7 – 14 nts  May – Oct

 

 

 

Find cruise deals from Montreal with ShermansTravel.com’s Travel Search.

PORT OVERVIEW: NEW YORK CITY
There are few more thrilling cities to visit than New York, with its dynamic, inimitable mix of world cultures, towering skyscrapers, and vibrant neighborhoods. It’s little wonder that visitors from around the globe arrive in droves to take a bite out of the Big Apple. No matter how many times you visit this famously fast-paced metropolis, there’s always something new waiting for you on the next trip.

Cruise Terminals:

The New York City metro area is serviced by three cruise terminals in Manhattan, Brooklyn (Red Hook), and New Jersey (Bayonne).

Bayonne, NJ – Cape Liberty Cruise Port

Destination    
Cruise Line 
Length of Sailing 
Departures 
Bahamas     Royal Caribbean 7 – 12 nts Year-round
Bermuda Celebrity, Royal Caribbean  5 – 9 nts  Apr – Nov
Caribbean Celebrity, Royal Caribbean 6 – 12 nts Year-round
New England & Canada   Celebrity, Royal Caribbean 7 – 14 nts June– Oct

 

 

 

 

 

Brooklyn – New York Cruise

Destination     Cruise Line
Length of Sailing Departures 
Caribbean  Cunard, Princess 8 – 15 nts May – Jan
New England & Canada Cunard, Princess 5 – 11 nts  May – Oct
Northern Europe  Cunard, Princess 18+ nts Apr – Sept
Panama Canal Cunard  16+ nts  Jan
Transatlantic   Cunard, Princess 7+ nts Apr – Nov
World Cunard  16+ nts Jan
        

 

 

 

 

 

Manhattan – New York Cruise

Destination       
Cruise Line   Length of Sailing 
Departures
Bahamas Norwegian   7 nts Year-round
Bermuda Carnival, Holland America, Norwegian, Silversea 6 – 10 nts Apr – Oct
Caribbean Carnival, Crystal, MSC Cruises, Norwegian, Silversea 8 – 13 nts Jan – Oct
Central America (Repositioning) Norwegian 12 nts Oct
Panama Canal Crystal, Princess 17+ nts July, Nov
New England & Canada Carnival, Costa, Crystal, Holland America, MSC Cruises, Norwegian, Seabourn, Silversea 14 – 17 nts Apr – Oc

 

 

 

 

 

Transatlantic/           Holland America, Norwegian     15+ nts       Apr – May
Europe 

Find cruise deals from New York City with ShermansTravel.com’s Travel Search.

PORT OVERVIEW: : PORTLAND, ME
The largest city in Maine is known for more than just great lobster and clam chowder – this New England seacoast setting is also home to great shopping, numerous art galleries, and top-notch entertainment options.

Cruise Terminal: Port of Portland

Destination     
Cruise Line 

Length of Sailing

Departures
New England     Blount Small Ship Adventures 7 nts July – Aug

 


PORT OVERVIEW: QUEBEC CITY
A hot spot for history buffs and antiques aficionados, Quebec City transports visitors to another place and time, yet still manages to impress even the most progressive of epicureans.

Cruise Terminal: Port of Quebec

Destination     
Cruise Line 
Length of Sailing
Departures
Bermuda  (Repositioning) Costa   14 nts Oct
Caribbean (Repositioning) Holland America, MSC Cruises 17 – 19 nts Oct
New England & Canada Costa, Holland America, MSC Cruises, Norwegian, Princess 7 – 15 nts Apr – May

Find cruise deals from Quebec City with ShermansTravel.com’s Travel Search

Cruises from the Southeast with Florida

The Southeast region of the United States is the irrefutable homeport cruise capital of America, touting six bustling ports in Florida alone (although Tampa is listed in our Gulf Coast section), as well as smaller, up-and-coming ports in Charleston and Norfolk, further up the coast. Cruisers from this region have plenty of vacation possibilities, with diverse Caribbean itineraries offering passengers the chance to awaken each morning on a new exciting tropical island, while sailings to the Bahamas provide rejuvenating quickie escapes. Several cruise lines offer longer voyages to Central and South America, including options to coast through the Panama Canal. This high volume of cruise traffic also translates to competitive rates year-round; expect higher discounts during hurricane season (which officially lasts from June 1 to November 30).

What homeports can I sail from?

* Charleston
* Fort Lauderdale
* Jacksonville
* Miami
* Norfolk
* Palm Beach
* Port Canaveral (Orlando)

What cruise destinations can I sail to?  

* Bahamas (from Charleston, Jacksonville, Miami, Norfolk, Palm Beach, Port Canaveral)
* Bermuda (from Charleston, Fort Lauderdale, Norfolk)
* Caribbean (from Charleston, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Norfolk, Port Canaveral)
* Mexico (from Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Port Canaveral)
* Panama Canal (from Fort Lauderdale, Miami)
* South America (from Fort Lauderdale)


PORT OVERVIEW: CHARLESTON
It’s hard to feel cynical in this gardenia-scented confection of a city, with its rainbow row houses, ornate churches, riverside parks, and tucked-away cafes. Founded in 1670, Charleston was once one of the most important ports in America. These days, around 4 million tourists hit the well-preserved downtown every year.

Cruise Terminal: Port of Charleston

Destination  Cruise Line
Length of Sailing   Departures
Bahamas Carnival  5 – 7 nts  Year-round
Bermuda Carnival  6 nts May
Caribbean Carnival, Celebrity   10 – 11 nts Apr – Oct

 

 

 

Find cruise deals from Charleston with ShermansTravel.com’s Travel Search.

 

PORT OVERVIEW: FORT LAUDERDALE
No longer a rowdy spring break mecca, Fort Lauderdale charms sophisticated beach bums with luxury resorts, culinary delights, and a burgeoning cultural scene to complement the year-round outdoor activities.

Cruise Terminal: Port Everglades

Destination
Cruise Line  
Length of Sailing Departures
Caribbean   Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, Holland America, MSC, Princess, Regent, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn,  Silversea 5+ nts Year-round
Mexico Carnival, Celebrity, Cunard, Holland America, MSC, Princess, Princess, Regent, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn 4+ nts Year-round  
Panama Canal Celebrity, Cunard, Holland America, Princess, Regent, Seabourn, Silversea 10+ nts Oct – May 
South America  Celebrity, Holland America, Princess, Regent, Seabourn, Silversea 14+ nts Year-round

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Find cruise deals from Fort Lauderdale with ShermansTravel.com’s Travel Search.

 

PORT OVERVIEW: JACKSONVILLE
As the third most populous city on the east coast (after NYC and Philadelphia), Jacksonville comprises a diverse Floridian destination with tons to see and do aside from beaches – hot spots include the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, Huguenot Memorial Park, and the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens.

Cruise Terminal: Jaxport

Destination     Cruise Line   Length of Sailing  Departures
Bahamas Carnival 4 – 5 nts Year-round

 

Find cruise deals from Jacksonville with ShermansTravel.com’s Travel Search.

PORT OVERVIEW: MIAMI
Sprawling, sexy, sometimes unruly, and occasionally outrageous, Greater Miami has become an urban mix unlike any other in America. The beach vacation city of Miami is one part sun-splashed resort playground, one part glamorama party capital, and one part bustling, Latin-flavored sprawl.

Cruise Terminal: Port of Miami

Destination   Cruise Line      Length of Sailing Departures
Bahamas Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian 3 – 4 nts Year-round
Caribbean Azamara, Carnival, Celebrity, Oceania, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean 4 – 14 nts Year-round
Mexico Azamara, Carnival, Celebrity, Crystal, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean 4+ nts Year-round
Panama Canal Azamara, Celebrity, Crystal, Norwegian, Oceania, Royal Caribbean 11+ nts Nov – Apr

Find cruise deals from Miami with ShermansTravel.com’s Travel Search.

 

PORT OVERVIEW: NORFOLK
Bordering Chesapeake Bay and the Elizabeth River, this Virginia city is surrounded by a spectacular waterfront. Take in nautical attractions like Nauticus (the National Maritime Center), or indulge in a savory seafood meal, followed by shopping on the waterfront or a stroll on the sandy beaches.

Cruise Terminal: Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center

Destination     Cruise Line Length of Sailing  Departures
Bahamas Carnival   6 nts May, Oct 

 

 

 
Find cruise deals from Norfolk with ShermansTravel.com’s Travel Search.

 

PORT OVERVIEW: PALM BEACH
Ever since Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway arrived in Palm Beach in 1894, this barrier isle north of Miami has basked in its reputation as a winter resort for golf aficionados and the wealthy set. In March 2010, the Port of Palm Beach landed itself on the cruise radar when it inked a five-year deal with Celebration Cruise Line.

Cruise Terminal: Port of Palm Beach

Destination     Cruise Line   Length of Sailing  Departures
Bahamas Celebration Cruise Line 2 nts Year-round

 

 

PORT OVERVIEW: CAPE CANAVERAL
An old-fashioned stretch of Florida oceanfront roughly an hour east of Orlando, Cape Canaveral went high-tech when NASA set up shop, earning the region the title “Space Coast.” A major departure point for all major cruise lines, this little slice of the sunshine state boasts wide, relatively empty beaches and plenty of family-friendly attractions to keep you occupied before hitting the high seas.

Cruise Terminal: Port Canaveral

Destination    Cruise Line    Length of Sailing Departures 
Bahamas Carnival, Disney, Royal Caribbean 3 – 4 nts  Year-round
Caribbean Carnival, Disney, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean 7 – 14 nts Year-round
Mexico  Carnival, Disney, Norwegian 7 – 16 nts Year-round

 

Find cruise deals from Cape Canaveral with ShermansTravel.com’s Travel Search.

Cruises from the Gulf Coast

The Gulf Coast region of the southern U.S. is heralded for its warm year-round temps and subtropical Gulf of Mexico waters – a winning combination that’s made homeport cruising extremely popular here. However, cruising from this area of the country does comes with a few conditions: For starters, its isolated Gulf location lends itself to itineraries that tend to lack much diversity, while more seriously, hurricane season has been known to cause major problems for these port cities – and for your cruising plans. 

What homeports can I sail from?

* Galveston
* Mobile
* New Orleans
* Tampa

What cruise destinations can I sail to?

* Bahamas (from Galveston, New Orleans) 
* Caribbean (from Galveston, Mobile, New Orleans, Tampa) 
* Mexico & Central America (from Galveston, Mobile, New Orleans, Tampa) 
* Panama Canal (from Tampa)
* Transatlantic & Europe (from Galveston)  

 

PORT OVERVIEW: GALVESTON
Its tagline might be “where the Texas coast begins,” but Galveston is much more than that. This small island of just 96 square miles is popular for its 32 miles of beaches, historic downtown, art galleries, and status as a premier international cruise port (which is back on track following the wrath of 2008’s Hurricane Ike).

Cruise Terminal: Port of Galveston

Destination    Cruise Line    Length of Sailing  Departures
Bahamas Carnival   7 nts Year-round
Caribbean Carnival, Royal Caribbean 4 – 8 nts Year-round
Mexico & Central America Carnival, Royal Caribbean 4 – 8 nts Year-round
Transatlantic & Europe  Royal Caribbean 14 nts May

 

 

 

 

Find cruise deals from Galveston with ShermansTravel.com’s Travel Search or at Travelocity.com.

 

PORT OVERVIEW: MOBILE
A melting pot for a diverse mix of cultures, from French to Spanish and African to Creole, this Gulf Coast city is the third most populous in Alabama, and the setting for some energized festivals (like Mardi Gras), as well as an up-and-coming cruise port.

Cruise Terminal: Mobile Alabama Cruise Terminal

Destination    Cruise Line Length of Sailing  Departures
Caribbean Carnival 7 nts May, July, Oct
Mexico & Central America Carnival 4 – 5 nts Year-round

 

Find cruise deals from Mobile with ShermansTravel.com’s Travel Search or at Travelocity.com.

 

PORT OVERVIEW: NEW ORLEANS
The Big Easy is a delectable gumbo of red-hot jazz, historic streetcars, lacy French-colonial balconies, powdery beignets, and zesty Cajun cuisine. Its unique blend of Southern hospitality, eccentric tradition, and unabashed debauchery give it a distinct character unlike anywhere else in the United States. Despite the devastation of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, the city’s tourism infrastructure – especially in the relatively unscathed French Quarter – has largely recovered.

Cruise Terminal: Port of New Orleans

Destination  Cruise Line   Length of Sailing Departures
Bahamas Carnival   7 nts Year-round
Caribbean Caribbean, Norwegian, P&O Cruises, Royal Caribbean     4 – 14 nts Year-round  
Mexico & Central America Carnival, Norwegian 4 – 7 nts    Year-round

 

 

 

Find cruise deals from New Orleans with ShermansTravel.com’s Travel Search or at Travelocity.com.

 

PORT OVERVIEW: TAMPA
The Tampa Bay area delivers a triple threat of tropical charm: St. Petersburg and Clearwater win over guests with 35 miles of powder-white beaches, unspoiled barrier islands, and a vibrant arts scene, while convention-minded bayside neighbor Tampa adds urban moxie and theme park thrills.

Cruise Terminal: Port of Tampa

Destination   Cruise Line
Length of Sailing  Departures
Caribbean Carnival, Holland America, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean 4 – 14 nts Year-round
Mexico & Central America Carnival, Royal Caribbean 4 – 15 nts  Year-round
Panama Canal Royal Caribbean 15 nts Apr

 

 

 

Find cruise deals from Tampa with ShermansTravel.com’s Travel Search or at Travelocity.com.

Cruises from California

California’s lengthy coast boasts four major homeport cruise ports, with the great emphasis of itineraries placed squarely on the very beach-worthy ports of call in Baja, as well as further south along the Mexican Riviera. Those with more than a week to spare at sea can opt to venture north to Alaska, or head out into the Pacific, hull pointed towards Hawaii, French Polynesia, or even far-reaching Asia. Consistently good year-round weather in Southern California translates to a robust annual calendar of cruises; sailings from San Francisco are largely concentrated outside of the winter months.

What homeports can I sail from?

* Long Beach
* Los Angeles
* San Diego
* San Francisco

What cruise destinations can I sail to?

* Alaska (from Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco)
* Hawaii (from Los Angeles, San Diego)
* Mexico & Central America (from Long Beach, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco)
* Pacific Northwest (from Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco)
* Panama Canal (from Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco)
* South America (from Los Angeles, San Diego)
* Tahiti (from Los Angeles)
* World (from San Francisco)

 

PORT OVERVIEW: LONG BEACH
Located approximately 25 miles south of Los Angeles, Long Beach is the fifth-largest city in California. Among its beachfront attractions are the Aquarium of the Pacific and the permanently docked ocean liner, Queen Mary, which features a great dinner and ghost tour.

Cruise Terminal: Long Beach Cruise Terminal

Destination Cruise Line  Length of Sailing
Departures
Mexico  Carnival 3 – 7 nts Year-round

 

Find cruise deals from Long Beach with ShermansTravel.com’s Travel Search or at Travelocity.com.

 

PORT OVERVIEW: LOS ANGELES
As the frontier of the American Dream, laid-back Los Angeles allows you to be a pampered star, an earnest culture vulture, a die-hard foodie, and anything else your heart desires. Head here for celebrity sightings, super shopping, and the chance to mix with the beautiful people.

Cruise Terminal: Port of Los Angeles’s World Cruise Center

Destination  Cruise Line
Length of Sailing   Departures
Alaska Celebrity, Norwegian 7 – 13 nts Apr – May
Hawaii Crystal, Cunard, Princess, Seabourn 14+ nts Sept – Apr
Mexico & Central America Crystal, Cunard, Disney, Norwegian, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn 4+ nts Year-round
Pacific Northwest Disney, Norwegian, Princess 6 – 7 nts  Apr – May
Panama Canal Celebrity, Cunard, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess, Seabourn, Silversea 13+ nts Sept – Apr
South America Crystal, Royal Caribbean 15+ nts Jan
Tahiti    Crystal, Princess, Seabourn, Silversea   13+ nts Jan – Aug
       

Find cruise deals from Los Angeles with ShermansTravel.com’s Travel Search or at Travelocity.com.

 

PORT OVERVIEW: SAN DIEGO
With world-class cultural events, a hip downtown scene, and numerous outdoor options, no other California locale offers big city tastes coupled with such a laid-back beach vibe like San Diego. Don’t miss its world-famous zoo, golden beaches, Mexican-flavored Old Town, and invigorating downtown Gas Lamp district.

Cruise Terminal: Port of San Diego

Destination Cruise Line 
Length of Sailing
Departures
Alaska  Royal Caribbean  12 nts May
Hawaii  Holland America, Celebrity 14+ nts Sept – Mar
Mexico & Central America Azamara Club Cruises, Carnival, Celebrity, Holland America, Silversea 4+ nts Sept – Apr
Pacific Northwest Celebrity 8 – 10 nts May
Panama Canal  Azamara Club Cruises, Celebrity, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Silversea   14+ nts Sept – Apr
South America   Holland  America  15+  nts    Feb; Sept – Oct

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Find cruise deals from San Diego with ShermansTravel.com’s Travel Search or at Travelocity.com.

 

PORT OVERVIEW: SAN FRANCISCO
One of the most diverse cities in the United States (hence its numerous distinct neighborhoods), San Francisco shines as the jewel of California with its pristine coastline, historic architecture, and progressive sensibility. Visitors come again and again for the Golden Gate Bridge, unmatched cuisine, funky neighborhoods, and free-spirited local culture.

Cruise Terminal: Port of San Francisco

Destination Cruise Line    Length of Sailing  
Departures
Alaska   Crystal, Oceania, Princess, Regent 10 – 14 nts  May – Sept
Mexico & Central America Holland America, Oceania, Princess, Norwegian, Regent 10+ nts Sept
Panama Canal Crystal, Holland America, Oceania, Princess, Regent 15+ nts Feb, Aug – Oct
World  P&O Cruises, Princess, Regent 16+ nts Jan, Sept – Oct

 

 

 

 

Find cruise deals from San Francisco with ShermansTravel.com’s Travel Search or at Travelocity.com.

Cruises from the Pacific Northwest with Alaska

Seattle and Vancouver boast the most abundant homeport cruise offerings of the region, including plenty of the predictable Alaskan-bound itineraries, as well as sampler cruises of the Pacific Northwest, and, for those with more time to spare, lengthier excursions to Hawaii or even Asia. Travelers from around the country (and world) come to the region from May through September to embark on stellar sailings to Alaska, with its scenic fjords and abundant wildlife – itineraries can start within the state itself at Whittier or Seward (Anchorage), in addition to the above-mentioned ports. Note that with the folding of Cruise West in September 2010, the futures of former homeports that they serviced, like Juneau and Portland, remain in flux, as they do not currently serve as embarkation points for any other cruise line’s itineraries.

 What homeports can I sail from?

* Seattle
* Seward (Anchorage)
* Vancouver
* Whittier

What cruise destinations can I sail to?

* Alaska (from Seattle, Seward, Vancouver, Whittier)
* Asia (from Seward, Vancouver, Whittier)
* Hawaii (from Vancouver)
* Mexico & Central America (from Seattle, Vancouver)
* Pacific Northwest (from Seattle, Vancouver)

 
PORT OVERVIEW: SEATTLE
Contrary to popular belief, Seattle is not the rainiest U.S. city (it ranks a lowly 44th in terms of rainfall). And while it may be home to Starbucks and Microsoft, it’s more than coffee and computer bytes too – the city is also rich in arts, recreation, shopping, and restaurants.

Cruise Terminal: Port of Seattle

Destination  Cruise Line   
Length of Sailing    Departures
Alaska Carnival, Celebrity, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess, Royal Caribbean 7 – 14 nts   Apr – Sept
Mexico & Central America (Repositioning) Celebrity, Holland America 16+ nts  Sept
Pacific Northwest Holland America, Princess 1 – 7 nts Apr – May, Sept – Oct

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Find cruise deals from Seattle with ShermansTravel.com’s Travel Search.

 

PORT OVERVIEW: SEWARD (ANCHORAGE)

In the state’s only true metropolis, that’s home to nearly half of its population, food, nightlife, shopping, and culture options abound. Most visitors use Anchorage merely as a transit hub, but the city warrants a few days’ exploration. Alaska’s commercial and financial center is hardly disconnected from the surrounding wilderness; don’t be surprised to spy moose loitering on city streets or anglers hauling 40-pound salmon from Ship Creek, right in the middle of downtown. The photogenic fishing town of Seward, at the head of magnificent Resurrection Bay on the Kenai Peninsula, serves as the cruise port for the city.

Cruise Terminal: Seward Cruise Port

Destination  Cruise Line  
Length of Sailing Departures
Alaska            Celebrity, Holland, Regent, Royal Caribbean, Silversea 7+ nts May – Sept
Asia Regent, Silversea    14+ nts   Sept

Find cruise deals from Seward with ShermansTravel.com’s Travel Search.

PORT OVERVIEW: VANCOUVER
If you’re looking for a city with spectacular natural surroundings, look no further than Vancouver, British Columbia. Surrounded by water on three sides and boasting more than 190 parks, the city is, besides being ideally suited for lovers of the great outdoors, filled with the cultural opportunities one would expect of a city of this caliber. Nestled beneath the dramatic, jagged Coast Mountains, it’s no surprise that it was chosen to host the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

Cruise Terminal: Port of Vancouver

Destination Cruise Line
Length of Sailing  
  Departures
Alaska  Carnival, Celebrity, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess, Regent, Royal Caribbean, Silversea 4+ nts May – Sept
Asia Princess, Regent, Silversea 16+ nts Sept
Hawaii  Carnival, Holland America, Princess, Royal Caribbean 10+ nts

Apr, Sept – Oct

Mexico & Central America (Repositioning) Holland America 12+ nts Sept 
Pacific Northwest  Celebrity, Holland America, Norwegian     4+ nts May, Sept – Oct

 
Find cruise deals from Vancouver with ShermansTravel.com’s Travel Search.

 

PORT OVERVIEW: WHITTIER
Tiny Whittier, Alaska, with a population of just under 200 residents, makes up for the small size of its town with the sheer grandeur of its beautiful natural surroundings, and its setting as a jumping off point for kayaking and fishing excursions, as well as glacier and pleasure cruises. Access is via a 90-minute drive from Anchorage, which includes a pass through a 2.5-mile-long tunnel that’s considered to be a feat of engineering.

Cruise Terminal: Whittier Cruise Port

Destination 
Cruise Line   Length of Sailing Departures
Alaska    Princess 3 – 7 nts May – Sept
Asia Princess  15+ nts Sept

 

 

Find cruise deals from Whittier with ShermansTravel.com’s Travel Search.

Cruises from Hawaii

While embarking on a Hawaiian island-hopper cruise is possible from several West Coast homeports in the Continental U.S., you’ll need to factor in lengthy itineraries for the additional days at sea it takes to sail from there (and back). If possible, opt to cut out the commute and sail directly from Honolulu. While there’s a flight involved (unless you’re a lucky Oahu native!), cruising this scenic slice of paradise is still a value-packed option, allowing travelers to curtail Hawaii’s notoriously hefty resort fees, and providing a sampling of much more than the one or two isles that most land vacationers are restricted to.

What homeports can I sail from?

* Honolulu

What cruise destinations can I sail to?

* Hawaii (from Honolulu)
* Tahiti (from Honolulu)

 

PORT OVERVIEW: HONOLULU
Brimming with luxury high-rise hotels, designer boutiques, and glitzy nightclubs, plus novelty shops where you can find everything from bobblehead hula girls to pineapple wine, Honolulu and its famed Waikiki Beach lure escapists of all stripes.

Cruise Terminal: Honolulu Cruise Terminal

Destination  Cruise Line Length of Sailing  Departures
Hawaii           Carnival, Celebrity, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean 7 – 12 nts Year-round
Tahiti  Princess, Royal Caribbean 12+ nts Sept

Find cruise deals from Honolulu with ShermansTravel.com’s Travel Search.

Tips for Booking Homeport Cruises

Read on for our expert tips on booking homeport cruises:

* Getting the best price on a homeport cruise

* What the fare covers on a homeport cruise

* Picking your homeport cruise cabin wisely

* Tips for traveling alone on homeport cruises

Getting the best price on a homeport cruise
•    Buy early or late: Prices can fluctuate a lot between the sale date and the sail date (usually a 12- to 18-month span). The sweet spots for purchasing are early in the process, when prices are generally favorable and availability is high, and late, when prices decrease but availability may be limited.
•    Use a cruise-only agency to make the purchase. Online travel engines may be the easiest way to book most trips these days, but when it’s time to buy a cruise, make sure to also try a cruise agent. They can offer you unadvertised discounts, group rates, and personalized service in case anything should go wrong.
•    Check out newsletters with cruise-bargain listings published by the cruise lines themselves, travel agencies, and online resources like our Cruise Deals page.

What the fare covers on a homeport cruise
•    On mainstream cruise lines, the fare includes meals, room service, entertainment, and the run of the ship. Not covered are tips, alcoholic beverages, soda, special dining venues, and shore excursions. Most ships have alternative dining venues, and service charges can range from $15 on Disney to an average of $25 on most mass-market cruise lines. Leave room in your budget for shipboard expenses, because those extra costs – like paying for espresso with dinner, or a service charge for pizza delivery to your stateroom – can quickly add up.
•    Luxury lines like Silversea and Regent Seven Seas Cruises include gratuities and all beverages in their fares, in addition to meals and entertainment.
•    Airfare is never included in a cruise price unless it’s specifically advertised. Some cruise lines, especially river cruises, do include airfare, which will be very clear in the wording of the price quote.

Picking your homeport cruise cabin wisely
Almost all advertised cruise prices are for the cheapest (often inside) cabins, so you may need to do some digging for the other prices.

Inside These have no windows but offer the same room service and room stewards as other cabins. Families often book these for the kids (many include additional pull-down beds at a lower fare).

Oceanview Also called an “outside cabin,” these have non-opening windows. The windows in “obstructed view” rooms are partially blocked by lifeboats and sell for less.

Balcony or Veranda The most popular choice: A sliding-glass door opens to a private deck with a table, chairs, and a safety railing.

Junior Suites These are balcony cabins with more square footage, larger bathrooms, a separate seating area, and larger closets.

Suites These come in several configurations but usually include separate bedrooms, larger bathrooms, walk-in closets, and extra services like butler, concierge, and Internet access. Some even have dining rooms, butler’s pantries, hot tubs, and baby grand pianos.

Location, Location, Location The smoothest-sailing part of a ship is on the lower decks, midship. There is no advantage to being on a higher deck – in fact, one feels more motion. Still, some ships charge more for the same cabin design just because it is higher up. Take the lower deck and save the money.

Tips for traveling alone on homeport cruises
Cruising is geared toward couples, as the rate is for a cabin with double occupancy. A solo cruiser pays a “singles supplement,” usually a 50 percent markup of the per-person rate. Here are smart ways to go solo:

Get a roommate: Certain lines, like Holland America, will match you up with a cabinmate.

Try a singles cruise: VacationsToGo.com and SinglesCruise.com bring singles groups on major boats for special activities, parties, dining, and roommate matching.

Go high-end: Several luxury lines like Silversea, Regent, and Crystal offer lower singles’ supplements than most other lines (around 25 percent). 

Check out the newest ships: The summer 2010-debuted Norwegian Epic offers a whopping 128 studio cabins that include private access to a solo-travelers’ lounge – with no single supplement. 

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