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

Starting at: $5,945 * Price includes special offer 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 Charleston and Jacksonville Aboard the Independence

9 days from $5,945

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

or Call 855-330-1542

SPECIAL OFFER

Save $250 per person on our 2020 departures when you book by December 2, 2019!

Overview

Savor the splendors of the South on this delightful coastal voyage! Explore the historic gems of Charleston and Savannah and see how the vivid and varied culture of the Low Country has evolved from colonial beginnings to modern day. Plus, discover white-sand beaches, wooded barrier islands, and vast stretches of golden marshes that are home to a myriad of wildlife.

Highlights include:

  • South Carolina: Enjoy tours of the architectural treasures of Charleston and Beaufort, lined with antebellum houses. Plus, view the scenic beaches and abundant wildlife of Hilton Head.
  • Georgia: In Savannah, tour the historic district showcasing 19th-century opulence and learn about plantation life. Cruising along barrier islands, arrive at Jekyll Island to visit "Millionaire's Village," a National Historic Landmark with extravagant winter cottages built more than a century ago. St. Simons features 18th-century battlefields and sprawling antebellum plantations. 
  • Florida: Discover Amelia Island's natural beauty, with its miles of quartz beaches and rolling sand dunes.
  • Independence: Perfect for coastal cruising, our ship features a spacious sun deck and lounge deck with panoramic windows. Master chefs prepare superb regional menus, and spacious staterooms feature upscale amenities. Please note that the direction of the cruise varies depending on departure date and is outlined under the Itinerary section below. Each voyage will also host other leading cultural and educational institutions, which will add to the excitement and energy of the experience.

Charleston to Jacksonville Itinerary - April 3-11, 2020

Day 1 — Arrive Charleston, South Carolina

Arrive into Charleston and transfer to the Francis Marion Hotel

This evening, gather for a private Smithsonian Journeys welcome reception and briefing at the hotel. The remainder of the evening and dinner is 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 St. Michael’s Church, colorful Rainbow Row, the famous Battery, and more.

Transfer to the Independence where a light lunch will be served onboard. Later sail south from Charleston en route to Beaufort, South Carolina. Each evening, pre-dinner cocktails and hors d’oeuves will be served. 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.

This morning, depart for Lady’s Island and St. Helena to explore the grounds of a former plantation. You’ll also stop at the Penn Center built in 1855, one of the first schools in the country for freed slaves. After lunch aboard the ship, depart on a carriage tour of charming Beaufort lined with colonial and antebellum homes.

Get together for camaraderie and conversation in the Smithsonian Travelers Corner. (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. Depart 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 further explore Hilton Head 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 for a trolley tour of the most popular attractions including Factor’s Walk, the Cotton Exchange, the Massie Heritage Center that showcases the cultural development of Savannah. As part of the trolley tour experience, you can continue to use the trolley system throughout the remainder of the day.

You can continue to explore the city independently or return to the ship for lunch. 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. Back on board the Independence early this evening, gather with your fellow participants in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Cruising the Intracoastal Waterway

Georgia’s coast is marked by a multitude of rivers that drain into a vast network of salt marshes, tidal flats and meandering creaks. Spartina cordgrass forms a protective 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. Before dining, get together with fellow travelers in the Smithsonian Travelers Corner. (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 then tour one of the famed mansions on the island.

After lunch aboard ship, visit St. Simons Island the largest of the Golden Isles. The island 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 where on July 7th, 1742, an outnumbered force of British troops ambushed and defeated Spanish troops, halting a planned attack on Fort Frederica. Tour the battlegrounds and learn about the military strategies employed by both sides based on the unique terrain. Then 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 - November 16-24, 2019

Day 1 — Arrive Jacksonville, Florida

Arrive Jacksonville International Airport and transfer to the ship docked in downtown Jacksonville. Luncheon will be served after boarding. Your Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director will be available to assist with ship and port information.Enjoy a late afternoon of cruising as the ship travels to Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island. Fernandina Beach, the island’s only city, harbors a treasure trove of history, antiques, and collectibles. 

Each evening during your cruise pre-dinner cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be served. This evening, gather for the Captain’s welcome and dinner. (L,D)

Day 2 — Amelia Island/Brunswick, Georgia Independence

A full breakfast is served each day aboard ship. This morning, tour Fernandina Beach and 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.

Return to the ship for lunch. The balance of the day is free for independent exploring.

Early this evening, the ship departs for Brunswick, Georgia, where it arrives late tonight. (B,L,D)

Day 3 — Brunswick / Jekyll Island / St. Simons Island, Georgia

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 where on July 7th, 1742, an outnumbered force of British troops ambushed and defeated Spanish troops, halting a planned attack on Fort Frederica. Tour the battlegrounds and learn about the military strategies employed by both sides based on the unique terrain. Then visit Christ Church, one of St. Simons most treasured landmarks, with its magnificent stained glass art. (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 trolley 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 for lunch 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.

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 arrival, depart with 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 onboard. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — 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.

Depart for Lady’s Island and St. Helena to explore the grounds of a former plantation. You’ll also stop at the Penn Center, one of the first schools in the country for freed slaves. After lunch aboard the ship depart on a carriage tour of charming Beaufort lined with colonial and antebellum homes.

Get together for camaraderie and conversation in the Smithsonian Travelers Corner. (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Charleston, South Carolina

This morning, there’s a leisurely scenic cruise from Beaufort to historic Charleston. This afternoon, take a ferry ride to historic Fort Sumter, where the Civil War began. Once aboard the ferry, experience a relaxing narrated cruise to the historic fort. Learn about the events which led to the outbreak of America’s most bloody war. When you arrive, you will be greeted by National Park Service Rangers who will provide further details on the history of Fort Sumter and its pivotal role in the American Civil War. Afterward, explore a fascinating onsite museum.

This evening the ship will overnight in port. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Charleston, South Carolina

Disembark the ship for a half-day motor coach and walking tour of Charleston’s most beautiful historic district. The city of Charleston is remarkably preserved and aesthetically pleasing with its blend of antebellum architecture, cobblestone streets, and historic landmarks like St. Michael’s Church, colorful Rainbow Row, the famous Battery, and so much more. Lunch will be at your leisure and the balance of the day is free of planned activities.

This evening, gather for a farewell reception. (B,R)

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)