The U.S.A. is a major centre of the global cruising industry, with ports of embarkation for almost all ships that sail round the Mexican Riviera, Canada and the Caribbean. But the USA is more than just ports of origin -- it's home to some of the world's most sought-after cruise itineraries, including the US eastern seaboard, the West Coast, and amazingly scenic rivers.
From the majestic beauty of New England to the historic southern charm of Charleston, the East Coast of the USA offers a varied and enticing range of unique cruise ports. Along this coast are the oldest cities in America, and the whole area exudes an air of culture and sophistication. The most popular time to visit is the autumn, or Fall as it's called there, for the incredible foliage colours, but spring and summer cruises also bring many delights.
The most popular starting point for East Coast cruises is New England, where you will discover the rugged beauty of coastal Main, the quaint coastal villages, and historic harbours reflecting the area's majestic seafaring heritage. The port of New York and New Jersey is one of the biggest natural harbours in the world, and further south, the great port of Baltimore is dotted with historic sites, and is near enough to the capital, Washington DC, to allow a visit from the boat. Beautiful Chesapeake Bay spanning Maryland and Virginia is full of historic coastal towns, Norfolk, Virginia being one of the oldest cities in the USA, and your cruise may finish in enchanting Charleston, South Carolina, full of cobblestone streets, grand southern mansions and secret gardens.
A sail along the Pacific coast offers a contrasting picture, starting with the spectacular Puget Sound and San Juan Islands archipelago off the Washington coast, dominated by the towering snow-capped Mount Rainier. You can enjoy a sightseeing tour around dazzling San Francisco, taking in the Golden Gate Bridge and the Alcatraz Island, and visit California's famous Catalina Island off Los Angeles, with sensational views from its highest point, and fabulous sea-life to be viewed in its unique marine preserve. A stop at Santa Barbara, California, offers the chance to travel through the Santa Ynez Valley and enjoy wine tastings at several acclaimed wineries.
Though not generally seen as a cruising destination, the USA has many pleasures to offer. The glories of New England in the autumn, the grandeur of the Pacific North-west, the glitz and glamour of West Coast cities, all draw cruisers from all over the world. There is no limit to the delights to be discovered on these iconic coastlines.