The Village at Gulfstream Park has shops and restaurants for day trippers to Port Everglades, FL
Increasingly, cruisers are turning a one-week cruise into a 10-day vacation that includes a land pre- or post-stay. And there are others who want to spend a few hours exploring a destination before catching their flight home. As the summer family cruise season gets under way, here is a sampling of what’s new, different or enticing for clients embarking at major East Coast ports from South Florida to New England.
Port of Miami, FL
The port and Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau’s new website has details and links for visitors traveling to Miami for cruise embarkation, a port call or a pre- or post-cruise stay. Another site that’s a great resource for cruisers headed to South Beach is www.southbeach-usa.com.
One of the most popular local attractions with cruise passengers is Jungle Island, a brief taxi ride from the port. The attraction’s 45-minute Lemur Experience brings small groups of guests—a maximum of six—into the park’s Lemur Nursery, home of young ring-tailed lemurs and the rare red ruffed and black-and-white ruffed lemurs.
Port Everglades, FL
Cruisers don’t have to set sail for Gilligan’s Island. The Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB has an aptly named Three Hour Tour for those who want to explore the destination after disembarking their ship. The CVB also has a Cruise and Play section on its website that gives agents information on hotel, restaurant and attraction offers for cruisers.
But if “shop till you drop” is a cruiser’s philosophy, agents can tell clients about South Florida’s newest dining, shopping and entertainment venue. Adjacent to the area’s horseracing track on South Federal Highway in Hallandale Beach, the Village at Gulfstream Park boasts a collection of retail shops and boutiques, trendy restaurants, outdoor cafés and nightclubs.
Port Canaveral, FL
Cruisers sailing from Port Canaveral on certain dates in September or November may have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view one of the final two Space Shuttle launches—one each for Discovery and Endeavor. During other times of the year, cruisers might witness a rocket launch. While limited in availability, tickets for viewing Space Shuttle and Expendable Launch Vehicle launches (including transportation to a launch viewing site) can be purchased from the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex at www.kennedyspacecenter.com.
Separately, for clients headed pre- or post-cruise to Orlando, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Orlando Resort’s newest blockbuster draw will open June 18 at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Park goers will enjoy multiple attractions with a Harry Potter theme, including two different dragon-like roller coasters, themed shops and a signature dining venue.
Port of Jacksonville, FL
New this year, AirTran Airways now flies twice daily between Baltimore and Jacksonville, which has unique draws. Clients disembarking a ship and wishing to sightsee a bit before a late afternoon flight may delve into the beer-brewing process on a Budweiser Brewery Tour; learn about the city’s maritime history at the Jacksonville Maritime Museum; or visit the Jacksonville Fire Museum, housed in a 1903 fire station.
Cruisers who wish to stay in Jacksonville for a few days may try out the Jacksonville Family Pass ticket. The $32.99-per-person ticket saves up to $7 and allows entry to the area’s three top family attractions—Adventure Landing, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, and the Museum of Science and Industry. Tickets are available at www.visitjacksonville.com.
Further up the coast, Carnival Cruise Lines just began year-round cruising from the Port of Charleston with Carnival Fantasy. To learn about the diverse destination options in Charleston for your cruisers, check out the redesigned Charleston Area CVB site, www.explorecharleston.com.
Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2010, Wild Dunes Resort is home to the signature Links Course; Tom Fazio helped redesign the 18th hole in 2009. And in the “coming soon” category, Southwest Airlines confirms it will begin flights to and from Charleston within a year.
Port of Norfolk, VA
The USS Wisconsin, built in 1944, is one of the world’s largest battleships. Beginning this year, the ship will be maintained and run by the City of Norfolk rather than the U.S. Navy. Visitors will now be able to tour its interior decks and get a fresh perspective about naval history. Nauticus, a maritime attraction/museum, and the battleship are both adjacent to the cruise terminal.
Virginia Zoological Park will open an Asian-themed Trail of the Tiger exhibit area this fall, with apes, tigers, tapirs, gibbons, buffalo and a tree-dwelling bear species. Families will have access to an underwater viewing deck and a 60-foot window in the orangutan exhibit.
Cruisers can take a relaxed tour of Baltimore's Inner Harbor aboard a Water Taxi
A new Baltimore diversion for cruisers who can’t get enough water adventure is Seadog’s 50-minute historical sightseeing narrative and a speedboat tour roundtrip from the Inner Harbor to Fort McHenry and the Key Bridge.
“Fast, frequent and free” is how Baltimore describes its 21 sleek hybrid-fuel buses that comprise a new Charm City Circulator downtown shuttle system. Visitors hop on and off to shop, visit attractions, dine out or view historical neighborhoods. Free shuttles run every 10 minutes from early morning to late night on three routes.
Port of New York, NY
For the latest updates on touring, discounts, upcoming events and visitor perks, refer clients to the NYC & Company website, www.nycgo.com. Out-of-town visitors often love being at the taping of a TV show such as Rachael Ray or Regis and Kelly, and the site lists available options and how to best secure tickets.
Cruisers are often keen on exploring two iconic attractions—the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. At the Empire State Building, visitors who have purchased a ticket online in advance will save time; they’ll skip the ticket line after clearing security and head directly to the elevator line. For the Statue of Liberty, visit the website of the National Park Service for ticket options and reservations; the site’s new eTour boasts 360-degree panoramas, audio-videos and pictures.
Port of Boston, MA
Upper Deck Tours has unveiled a green-and-yellow trolley for the longest-ever Boston area tour route with 21 stops from Boston’s Seaport District to Harvard Square in Cambridge. Cost is $36 for two days of unlimited use and choice of either a free Boston Harbor or Charles River boat ride.
The Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau has created an iPhone app enabling visitors to search for events, find deals, decide what to do, and purchase attraction and tour tickets. Each attraction and event page comes with a built-in GPS “Map It” function. Details and the download link are at www.BostonUSA.com.