Day 1: We board the cruise in Jacksonville, FL ( Amelia Island is a cheerful, artistic place).
First thing we notice is how large our cabin is over 255 sq. feet and beautifully decorated; these must be largest cabins on a small ship I have seen so far. Bathroom is also full size like a luxury hotel. At 12:30pm lunch is being served and it smells great!! At 1:00pm we head up the coast to Brunswick, GA. There is a briefing in the lounge on tours and we are introduced to Charlie Petrocci, our guest speaker for the week. Charlie’s talks through out the week were not only interesting but fun, he was fun and very passionate about nature and culture along the eastern inter-coastal way! Cocktail hour was at 5:30pm every evening any; drinks were free, along with assortment of wonderful hors d’oeuvres. Dinner was also fantastic; served at 6:30pm every night, great local cuisines and great service!! We stop in Brunswick for an overnight stay, and many of us get off and walk around this cute historical town. At 8:30pm Charlie does another one of his wonderful talks on the history of Brunswick and the Sea Turtle Center which is also on the tour for tomorrow. Wow, hard to believe we are only on our first day; it has been an exciting first day!!
Day 2: There is an early riser breakfast from 6:30am-9:00am which we don’t make; we do however make the sit-down breakfast which is very good. We then head out for a tour of St. Simons Island, it was really interesting to visit the Bloody March, the site of the famous 1742 battle. We also visit Retreat Plantation and stop at the beautiful Christ Church; there is no better way to experience true southern charm. We have plenty of time to shop or walk. That night we have some fantastic Jazz and Blues Music from “After Hours” local entertainers.
Day 3: We head out for a tour of Jekyll Island to the Sea Turtle Center, and the Historic District and the “Millionaires Village” the winter cottages of the rich and famous, which are unbelievable. The Sea Turtles are amazing – some almost 100 years old!! It all is so much fun and educational, and what we enjoy most is no packing or unpacking and no dressing up, all very casual.
Day 4: We have met some of the nicest people on this cruise, the ages vary from 40s to 90s but all are on this cruise to have fun and learn something wonderful about our own country. With only 94 passengers on the ship it is easy to get to know folks and you may sit anywhere for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Don and I decide to move around at every sitting and get to know everyone on the ship; it is so nice talking to people and making new friends from all over the country, a few from other countries. This day we cruise through the Inland Passage sometimes so close to land you feel like you can reach out and touch it, it is so beautiful. Lots of eagles, hawks, pelicans all sorts of marsh critters (I am sure Charlie would not appreciate my lack of knowledge here). At 6:00pm we pull into the gorgeous dock of Savannah, GA, a place I have wanted to see ever since I was a little girl! It is more beautiful than I ever have imagined it to be. I can’t wait to get off and explore my dream city.
Day 5: Last night we had dinner at the Sapphire Grill which is located next to Paula Dean’s Lady and Son’s restaurant and store. It was one of the most romantic places we have ever eaten, and to make it even more romantic on our anniversary a huge thunder storm came in and we had our dinner by candle light as the power went out for almost 1 hr, but you would never know it since they use gas stoves. Everything was prepared perfectly; how much more romantic can you get??
Today we took the Trolley tour and visited the house of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts. It was classic southern home with a beautiful courtyard garden. We visited all the local spots were famous movies were shot, such as Forest Gump, Prince of Tides, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, just to mention a few. Once you see all the historic homes and statues and gardens you can understand why they would do so many movies here. The history is overwhelming and you can understand why Union General William T. Sherman presented Savannah to President Lincoln as a gift, it is truly one of our countries most colorful, historical cities to visit.
We also did an afternoon tour of the Mighty Eight Air Force Museum. Boy, this tour did not get enough kudos; it was one of the biggest, best Air Force Museums that my husband and I have seen, and believe me with Don, we have seen quite a few. 2 ½ hours was not near enough to see this huge memorial to all our men and women who have served in the air force. We saw many exhibitions from WWII through today. It was so inspiring. They even had a visual, oral exhibit that allowed you to really feel like you were riding in a WWII airplane, being shot at and getting ready to bomb the enemy. It was a shocking but realistic sensation, something we will never forget and we hope to go back there someday and spend an entire day there.
Day 6: Well we pull into Daufuski Island, SC for the night, or so we thought. At about 12:00am a big storm comes in and we have to leave Daufuski because our ship is pulling the pier too much, and our Captain decides to leave before we cause any damage to this small local dock. Once away from the pier you really don’t even know what is happening in fact most of the passengers slept right through it all. Daufuski is an interesting place; Charlie tells us it is an island that is not connected by bridge to mainland so the culture is somewhat isolated and they speak their own language of Gullah. On the opposite end is Hilton Head, another stop along the way, very modern with golf courses and huge beautiful homes, but deep in the middle of this island is somewhat a jungle filled with all kinds of plant and animal life and you can take an Alligator boat cruise to see it all.
Day 7: We are now in Beaufort, SC and off on a carriage tour of the City that was so educational, our guide was a retired college professor and he knew so much about the South and slavery and all the stories of the Civil War. It was so interesting, entertaining and fun to sit in a horse drawn carriage and learn all about Robert Small’s and many other great heroes of the south. In the late afternoon we headed for Charleston, SC.
Docking there in late afternoon and than taking a city tour that night gave us a real good feel for this big, colorful southern city. We spent most of the evening walking around and taking the local trolley all over this unbelievable city.
Day 8: Our most memorable cruise finally ended, with so many wonderful, lifetime memories! We have to leave our new found friends, but we have extended our stay in Charleston for two more days and as we find out so many of our friends have done the same. So our fun continues for a little longer!!
Best part of the cruise, making new friends for a lifetime including the wonderful staff of the American Spirit and learning more about this great country we live in and what has made it was it is today; not forgetting all the sacrifices and victories!!
What makes this cruise exceptional: The service, they were professional but took their jobs very personally in making every passenger happy. Cabins, lots and lots of space. And very comfortable. Educational speakerssuch as Charlie, and local entertainment, both fantastic!!
Meals were very good and exceptional wines were served with dinner every night and plenty of food all day long, including root beer floats and ice cream sundaes every evening. It was hard to come home and break that habit!!
Many wonderful choices of reasonably priced shore excursions and because these ships can park on the docks you can spend your time just wandering the cities and enjoying the locals as we did many days.