As the nation celebrates Presidents' Day, a time to honor George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and other U.S. Presidents, Travel Agent looks at spots where cruisers can explore Presidential history or delve into discussions of politics and Presidents.
Baltimore as a Gateway
Clients who board ships home ported in Baltimore, including Royal Caribbean International’s Grandeur of the Seas or Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Pride, might tour nearby Fort McHenry, whose bombardment by the British in 1814 inspired Francis Scott Key to pen a poem that was transformed -- with the addition of music -- into the U.S. National Anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner."
But even more enticing for many consumers is a chance to visit the nation’s capital, Washington D.C., just 40 miles south. Cruisers can easily visit the city's Presidential sites on a pre- or post-cruise stay.
What's to see? Top Washington D.C. sites with a Presidential twist include the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, the White House or nearby Mount Vernon, Washington’s former estate and home in northern Virginia.
The Smithsonian Institution's museums with such features as First Ladies' inaugural gowns are also of interest, as is Arlington National Cemetery, the final resting places of Presidents John F. Kennedy and William Howard Taft. For all the touring options, check out www.washington.org.
On the small ship side, American Cruise Lines’ American Constellation, American Star or Independence operate a “Chesapeake Bay Cruise” from Baltimore on multiple dates this May or in late fall, as well as in 2018.
On these ships' itineraries, cruisers can explore Colonial history at Yorktown, Williamsburg and Jamestown, VA, as well as savor savory crabs at Crisfield, MD.
Another option for a D.C. visit? Some ships feature Baltimore port calls. Among the options is Crystal Cruises’ “Colonial Passage” voyage on Crystal Serenity, departing October 13 from Quebec City to Fort Lauderdale, FL. The vessel calls at Baltimore from 8 a.m. to 12 midnight on Oct. 23, leaving plenty of time to explore ashore.
What's to see? Crystal offers guests a roundtrip transfer to Washington D.C. by motorcoach or guests can also book shore excursions that visit Arlington National Cemetery and the National Mall's memorials; the White House and U.S. Capitol; or Mount Vernon and Old Town Alexandria.
In addition, clients can opt for Crystal's Gettysburg, PA, shore excursion to see the southeastern Pennsylvania Civil War battlefield and the spot where Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address.
Ports With Presidential Links
Other home ports, including New Orleans and Seattle, as well as such ports of call as Key West, FL and Bridgetown, Barbados, to name a few, also delve into the Presidential links to American history.
In New Orleans, for example, one popular tour is a journey outside the city to the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park (Chalmette Battlefield), administered by the U.S. National Park Service. In his pre-Presidential service to the country, Andrew Jackson defeated the British here during the War of 1812's Battle of New Orleans.
In Seattle, which is a highly popular embarkation port for summer season Alaska cruises, one fun option is to visit Boeing’s Museum of Flight, home to the 1959-era Air Force One. Now retired, this flying “Oval Office" once transported Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon.
During port calls at Key West, FL, cruisers can head out to visit President Harry Truman's "Little White House." For those who like to plan a long time in advance, Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Pearl will call at Key West during its January 17 and February 7 cruises sailing roundtrip from Tampa in early 2019.
For Caribbean cruises that call at Bridgetown, Barbados, Americans often opt for a tour that includes views or or a tour of the George Washington House, where the first U.S. President lived for two months in 1751.
Barbados was the only foreign country the first U.S. President ever visited. Celebrity Cruises' Equinox calls at the island during its September 4 cruise roundtrip from Miami.
Independently, depending on their political bent or Presidential interests, cruisers might head out to see sites associated with former President Barack Obama on Oahu, Hawaii; the George H. W. Bush Monument in downtown Houston; or the Trump Tower in New York City, the home of President Donald Trump and his family.
Speakers With Political Intel
While some Americans dislike discussing current political affairs, others truly love the opinions, banter and insider "intel." On some cruises, cruise line speakers lecture about such topics as history, art, cultural pursuits and world affairs.
Two upcoming voyages that may be of interest for Presidential fodder? Tom DeFrank, an award-winning journalist and author from Washington D.C., will speak to guests on Crystal's May 17 transatlantic sailing from New York to Reykjavik, Iceland.
A respected "President-watcher," DeFrank has covered the White House since the Nixon administration as well as the last 12 Presidential elections.
In addition, Silversea Cruises will welcome Alexander Heffner, host of The Open Mind on PBS, on Silver Muse's Voyage 6801, departing January 3, 2018, from Port Everglades, FL, to Valparaiso, Chile.
Heffner has covered American politics, civic life and Millennials since the 2008 presidential campaign.
So, whether cruisers are interested in close-up experiences with storied Presidential places of the past or present, or in discussing political insight with Washington insiders, they'll find some good options.
Happy Presidents' Day to all our readers!