Savor the charm of the South and gain insight into its history during a cruise along the Intracoastal Waterway.

(Cruise formerly known as "Springtime in the South")

Starting at: $5,695 * Price includes special offer Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Mansion on Rainbow Row, Charleston  Great White Egret, Everglades National Park  The beautiful beaches of Hilton Head South Carolina

Cruising Southern Coastlines

A Cruise between Jacksonville and Charleston aboard the 100-guest Independence

9 days from $5,695

Savor the charm of the South and gain insight into its history during a cruise along the Intracoastal Waterway.

(Cruise formerly known as "Springtime in the South")

or Call 855-330-1542

SPECIAL OFFER

Save $250 per person when you book by January 4, 2019!

Overview

White-sand beaches, wooded barrier islands, vast stretches of golden marshes, and a carpet of spring flowers await you as you sail from port to port. In Charleston, take a tour of the city's highlights, including Rainbow and Catfish Row. Explore the architectural treasures of Beaufort and Savannah as well as the natural history of Hilton Head, and cruise Georgia’s coast, along with the barrier islands. Sail to Jekyll and St. Simons islands, with its 18th-century battlefields, sprawling antebellum plantations, and “Millionaire’s Village.” Discover the natural beauty of Amelia Island, with its miles of quartz beaches and rolling sand dunes, then disembark in Jacksonville, Florida.

Highlights include:

  • Picturesque Ports: Savor Charleston’s colorful hues and see antebellum homes embellished with fanciful wrought ironwork.  Take a carriage tour of Beaufort, South Carolina’s tree-shaded community, which is included on the National Register of Historic Places. Dock directly in the famous River Street area of Savannah, Georgia then tour Factor’s Walk, the Cotton Exchange, and some of the picturesque squares that make up the city. Visit Amelia Island’s Fernandina Beach, with its treasure trove of history, antiques, and Victorian-style mansions and cottages
  • Natural Wonders: Embark on a private boat tour of Hilton Head’s 600-acre Sea Pines Resort Forest Preserve, featuring indigenous plants and animal species, including the American alligator. On Jekyll Island tour the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. Take in spectacular views from the ship’s deck as you meander the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, where spartina cordgrass forms a band behind the barrier islands, creating one of the most extensive and productive marshland systems on the planet.
  • U.S. History: See Beaufort’s gracious homes and St. Helena Episcopal Church (1712), one of the oldest functioning churches in the United States. Tour Savannah’s 40-block historic district through its cobblestone streets lined with classic wrought-iron fences and 150-year–old, moss-draped oaks predating the Civil War. Visit the Mighty Eight Airforce Museum with its impressive collection of WWII aircraft.

During this voyage, we will share the ship with other leading cultural and educational institutions, which will add to the excitement and energy of the experience.

*Please note: The November 16-24, 2019 departure will be going to all the same stops but will be operating in the opposite direction starting in Jacksonville, Florida and ending in Charleston, South Carolina. 

Charleston to Jacksonville Itinerary

Day 1 — Arrive Charleston, South Carolina

Arrive into Charleston transfer to the Francis Marion Hotel. 

This evening, enjoy a private Smithsonian Journeys welcome reception and briefing at the hotel. The remainder of the evening and dinner independently. (R)

Day 2 — Charleston, South Carolina / Embark Independence

Enjoy a buffet breakfast at the hotel followed by checkout. The city of Charleston is as exquisitely preserved and aesthetically pleasing with its blend of antebellum architecture, cobblestone streets, and historic landmarks. In the company of an expert local guide explore sights like colorful Rainbow Row, Catfish Row, the famous Battery, and more.

Late morning, transfer to the Independence. A light lunch will be served onboard. Later sail south from Charleston en route to Beaufort, South Carolina. This evening enjoy a festive Captain’s welcome dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 3 — Beaufort, South Carolina

Beaufort’s history includes European explorers, Native American cultural influences, British settlements and Civil War battles. Today, horse-drawn carriages clatter along the narrow streets of this historic district, past 18th and 19th-century homes famous for unique Beaufort-style architecture.

View historic forts and elegant homes and travel back in time to learn about plantation life. This narrated journey follows the historic tree-lined streets of Beaufort as you make your way to visit the area’s antebellum homes, green parks, and local shops. Many of the local buildings remain untouched and are preserved as they were originally constructed after being used as hospitals, office, and commander’s quarters during the Civil War.

At the conclusion of the tour, you will have time on your own in Beaufort. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Hilton Head, South Carolina

The island is named after Captain William Hilton, who in 1663 identified a headland near the entrance to Port Royal Sound. Leave the Independence and embark on a private boat tour of the Sea Pines Resort Forest Preserve. This 600-acre preserve features some of Hilton Head’s many indigenous plants and animal species, including the American alligator.

In the afternoon, there will be time independently to explore Hilton Head’s popular shopping district or relax back on board the ship. (B,L,D)

Day 5 – Savannah, Georgia

With its emerald tree canopy, quaint cobblestone streets and majestic architecture, Savannah is still a bustling seaport with renowned historic districts that preserve its phenomenal 19th-century wealth and opulence. The Independence will dock directly in the famous River Street area, known for open-air shopping, world-class restaurants, and southern hospitality. On the dock, meet your local guide who will take you on a personalized tour of the most popular attractions including Factor’s Walk, the Cotton Exchange, and the various squares that make up the city.

After the tour, you can return to the ship or continue to explore the city independently. Lunch will be served onboard. This afternoon journey by motor coach to the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum which houses an impressive collection of WWII aviation memorabilia. Enjoy an overview of the museum and a brief history lesson regarding the famed Eighth Air Force Division. Then enjoy a guided tour of the museum.

Back on board Independence early this evening gather with your fellow participants for a Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Cruising the Intracoastal Waterway

Georgia’s coast is marked by a consistent geography. A multitude of rivers drain into a vast network of salt marshes, tidal flats and meandering creaks. Spartina cordgrass forms a band behind the barrier islands, creating one of the most extensive and productive marshland systems in the United States.

Today you’ll spend a full day sailing the coast. Soak in the atmosphere from the panoramic deck and lounges aboard the Independence. (B,L,D)

Day 7 — St. Simons Island / Jekyll Island, Georgia

Discover the compelling history of Jekyll Island and St. Simons Island. Today, Jekyll Island is part of Georgia’s Sea Isles and boasts “Millionaire’s Village," 240-acres of extravagant homes and winter cottages, now recognized as a National Historic Landmark.

St. Simons Island offers guests a view of the area's past including the momentous 18th-century battlefields and sprawling, antebellum plantations. This morning take a self-guided tour of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, where you learn about the hardships of a young sea turtle as it grows from an egg to adulthood. Afterward, take a tram tour of the Jekyll Island Historic District and learn all about the Jekyll Island Club, once named “the richest, most inaccessible club in the world,” and even tour one of the famed mansions on the island.

After lunch aboard visit St. Simons Island, the largest of the Golden Isles and has a deep-rooted history spanning over four centuries. Nowhere is the island’s rich history better told or preserved than the Bloody Marsh Battle Site or Christ Church. A lively tour guide will take you through the battlegrounds and explain the military strategies employed by both sides based on the unique terrain. Afterward, visit Christ Church, one of St. Simons most treasured landmarks, with its magnificent stained glass art. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Amelia Island, Florida

Discover the natural beauty of Amelia Island, with its miles of quartz beaches and rolling sand dunes. Fernandina Beach, the island's only city, harbors a treasure trove of history, antiques, and collectibles. Take a walking tour through the Victorian seaport of Fernandina Beach. Stroll through the town's historic Centre Street, past the Florida House, and into the Silk Stocking District.

Have time independently to explore this charming town. This evening gather back on board the Independence for a festive farewell reception and dinner. (B,L,R,D)

Day 9 — Jacksonville, Florida / Home

After breakfast disembark the Independence and transfer to Jacksonville Airport for flights home. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)

Jacksonville to Charleston Itinerary

Day 1 — Arrive Jacksonville, Florida

Arrive Jacksonville International Airport and transfer to the ship docked in Jacksonville. The afternoon is at leisure to get acquainted with the ship before it sails toward Jekyll and St. Simons Islands. A Smithsonian Travel Director will be available on the ship to help with ship and port information.

This evening, gather with fellow Smithsonian Journeys travelers for the Captain’s welcome and dinner. (L,D)

Day 2 — Jekyll Island and St. Simons Island, Georgia

A full breakfast will be served each morning aboard ship. Today, learn about the geography of Jekyll Island that has made it an ideal nesting ground for thousands of sea turtles. Take a self-guided tour of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, where you’ll learn about the struggles of a young sea turtle as it hatches and grows to adulthood.

Afterward, take a tram tour of the Jekyll Island Historic District and learn about the Jekyll Island Club, said to be “the richest, most inaccessible club in the world.” and visit one of the famed mansions on the island. St. Simons Island is the largest of the Golden Isles and has a deep-rooted history spanning over four centuries. Nowhere is the island’s rich history better told or preserved than at the Bloody Marsh Battle Site or at Christ Church. A local tour guide will take you through the battleground and explain the military strategies of both sides based on the unique terrain.

Afterward, you’ll visit Christ Church, one of St. Simons most treasured landmarks. The magnificent stained glass is sure to impress. Join fellow travelers for an exclusive Smithsonian Journeys welcome reception. (B,L,D) 

Day 3 — Cruising the Intracoastal Waterway

Georgia’s coast is marked by a consistent geography. There is a multitude of rivers that drain into a vast network of salt marshes, tidal flats, and meandering creeks. Spartina cordgrass forms a thick band behind the barrier islands, creating one of the most extensive and productive marshland systems in the United States. Sail the coast today and soak in the atmosphere from the panoramic deck and lounges. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Savannah, Georgia

With its emerald tree-canopy, quaint cobblestone streets and majestic architecture, Savannah is still a bustling seaport with renowned historic districts that preserve its phenomenal 19th-century wealth and opulence. The ship will dock directly in the famous River Street area, known for its open-air market, world-class restaurants, and southern hospitality.

An expert local guide will take you on a personalized tour of the most popular attractions including Factor’s Walk, the Cotton Exchange, and the various squares that make up the city. After the tour, you can retreat to the ship or continue to explore the city on your own. As part of the trolley tour experience, you can continue to use the trolley system throughout the remainder of the day. Trolleys run all day and meet at designated spots within the city limits.

Return for lunch back on-board the ship. Afterward, visit the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum that houses an impressive collection of WWII planes and fascinating aviation memorabilia. Late this afternoon, join your Smithsonian Journeys Expert and fellow travelers in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner for lively conversation. (B,L,D)

Day 5 – Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Hilton Head is a first-class resort known for its championship golf courses and miles of beaches. After dropping anchor off Hilton Head, tender to shore, where you’ll be greeted by a local guide for an engaging shore excursion of the area. Embark a private boat tour of the Sea Pines Resort Forest Preserve. This 600-acre preserve features Hilton Head’s many indigenous plants and animals, including the American Alligator. The guide will provide an engaging and educational narrative while you enjoy the beautiful views of the freshwater lake and the vibrant ecosystem.

In the afternoon, take time to further explore Hilton Head or relax on board ship. This evening, enjoy local entertainment on-board. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Beaufort, South Carolina

Take a step back in time and explore what life was like in America’s Old South. The experience begins with a local guide, who will greet you in period costume and a welcoming smile. Depart for Lady’s Island and St. Helena where you will explore the grounds and main house of a former plantation. There, you’ll attend a live performance of expressive plantation-life songs. Enjoy lunch on board.

Afterward, embark on a leisurely carriage tour of Beaufort’s popular Bay Street. See historic tree-lined streets, antebellum homes, green parks, and other points of interest. Many of the local buildings remain untouched and are preserved as they were during the Civil War. At the conclusion of the tour, you will have time on your own to experience Beaufort and its southern charm.

Join your Smithsonian Journeys Expert in the Travelers Corner. After dinner, enjoy a memorable onboard concert by a local musician. (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Charleston, South Carolina

This morning, there’s a leisurely scenic cruise from Beaufort to historic Charleston. After an afternoon arrival, there’s time to follow your own path and explore Charleston at your own pace. This evening the ship will be in port. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Charleston, South Carolina

Disembark the ship for a half-day excursion en-route to the centrally located Francis Marion Hotel for your overnight stay. The city of Charleston is as remarkably preserved and aesthetically pleasing with its blend of antebellum architecture, cobblestone streets, and historic landmarks.

Tour the city with a local guide who will take you to discover the sights like the colorful Rainbow Row, Catfish Row, the famous Battery, and so much more. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant and the balance of the day is free of planned activities.

Your Smithsonian Travel Director will be available at the hospitality desk in the hotel to assist with local information and help with planning free time in Charleston. This evening, gather with fellow Smithsonian Journeys friends for a farewell reception. (B,L,R,D)

Day 9 — Charleston, South Carolina / Home

After breakfast depart the hotel for the airport and return flights home. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)