A Syndicated Column By Vacation Rewards

Travel the World, Close to Home

With the rising price of gas and airfare fees, many are looking for travel experiences closer to home. Recognizing this, leaders within the cruise industry have expanded their ports of call to include departure locations that are driveable from most U.S. cities. As an added bonus, these cities are amazing destinations on their own and well worth a visit! Vacation Rewards has easy access to everything you need to plan your next local getaway!

San Francisco, California

Born during the California Gold Rush of 1849, San Francisco is truly one of the most magical cities in the United States. The city has been named No. 1 for both Best U.S. Vacations and Best Summer Vacations in U.S. News & World Report's first-ever Best Vacations rankings. It's hard to beat San Francisco, with its fine dining, world class museums and shopping. Cruise ships launch for Alaska and Mexico near the famous Fisherman's Wharf, where sea lions bask in the sun, and seafood stalls with steaming crab cauldrons invite hungry travelers to sit down and have a bite to eat. Plus, you can explore the city either on foot, by cab or, our favorite way, on a historic cable car!

Miami, Florida

Miami is flavored with the sounds, smells and tastes of the Caribbean. It is one of Florida's most popular vacation spots and is famous for its beaches. From South Beach and the Art Deco district to Little Havana, this South Florida city has a lot to offer pre- or post-cruise adventure seekers. Cruises from Miami visit all the popular Caribbean hot spots, including the Bahamas, Jamaica, Mexico, the British and American Virgin Islands, St. Maarten, St. Kitts, the Caymans and many other destinations. For those looking for a longer adventure, you can even set sail for Europe or South America from this close-to-home port!

Galveston, Texas

Galveston Island, approximately 48 miles from downtown Houston, is the departing location for most Texas cruises. This quaint island is small enough that most places can be reached by walking. From sunny beach fun to sizzling nightlife, there is something fun for the entire family every day on Galveston Island. It has a rich history, as has served as the main port for the Texas Navy during the Texas Revolution and also served briefly as the capital of Texas. Several cruise lines operate out of Galveston, with sailings to the warm waters of the Caribbean or to more exotic destinations like Central and South America.

Charleston, South Carolina

Attracting nearly 4 million visitors a year, Charleston is a city full of tradition, history and Southern charm. The historic part of town has buildings that are hundreds of years old, and the skyline is dominated by church steeples (contributing to the city's moniker, The Holy City) and the stunning Arthur Ravenel Jr. cable-stayed bridge. The Cruise Passenger Terminal is in the city's Historic District, just two short blocks from Charleston's famous public market. Sailings depart for the gorgeous waters of Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Caribbean regularly.

New York City, New York

What can we say about New York that has not already been said or sung about? There's no other way of arriving in or departing from New York quite as extraordinary as on a cruise ship. The city recently completed a $250 million Cruise Terminal renovation, turning both the Manhattan and Brooklyn Cruise Terminals into two of the finest in the world. Locals often joke that it is the one place in the city where parking is easy! Members can sail north to New England and Canada to view the fall foliage or head east on a transatlantic cruise to London, England. Those looking for more tropical destinations can travel to Bermuda or through the Panama Canal to Costa Rica, Acapulco or Cabo San Lucas. New York is also the only northern port that offers winter departures to 11 different warm-water and exotic locations in the Caribbean.

Choosing a port of call close to home gives travelers many vacation choices both before and after their cruise. Extending the adventure in and around the departure city can be a rewarding experience. The United States is overflowing with amazing places, and we have only highlighted a few.

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