Historic South and Golden Isles Cruise

The Intracoastal Waterway, home to some of the most beautiful historic cities in America, is a protected network of bays, rivers, and canals. Start your journey in Charleston, lined with cobblestone streets and antebellum houses, and where the first shots of the Civil War were heard.

Continue to scenic Beaufort and learn what life was like on a southern plantation from our resident expert in period costume. Enjoy the scenic beaches and abundant wildlife at Hilton Head, before traveling to Savannah to tour its historic districts showcasing 19th-century wealth and opulence.

In Jekyll Island, visit “Millionaire’s Village,” a National Historic Landmark with 240-acres of extravagant homes and winter cottages built over 100 years ago. On your final stop at Amelia Island, take a river cruise and walking tour through the Victorian seaport of Fernandina Beach.

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Cruise Itinerary

Day
Ports of Call
1
Charleston, SC
2
Beaufort, SC
3
Hilton Head Island, SC
4
Savannah, GA
5
St. Simons Island, GA
6
Jekyll Island, GA
7
Amelia Island, FL
8
Amelia Island, FL

Historic South and Golden Isles Cruise

As you cruise between ports, expansive wildlife refuges and remote islands stretch out before you, offering an extraordinary view of the wilderness of the South. This is a region of history, legend, grace, and beauty that will leave you inspired.

Ports of Call

  • Charleston, SC
  • Beaufort, SC
  • Hilton Head Island, SC
  • Savannah, GA
  • St. Simons Island, GA
  • Jekyll Island, GA
  • Amelia Island, FL
  • Amelia Island, FL
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Day by Day

Reverse itineraries available. Please contact your Cruise Specialist for more information. Excursions subject to change.

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Day 1
Charleston, SC

The port city of Charleston is known for its cobblestone streets, gas-lit lamps, and pastel antebellum houses. The scene of Revolutionary War naval battles, legendary pirate tales, and Civil War sieges, the city is considered by many to be a living museum. Visit historic Fort Sumter National Monument, where the first shots of the Civil War rang out. Learn how Charleston’s African-American heritage has contributed to the city’s history and unique culture. Enjoy the beauty of the area with a stroll through its magnificent parks and gardens.

coastal cruises

Charleston Experience

The city of Charleston is exquisitely preserved and aesthetically pleasing with its charming blend of antebellum architecture, cobblestone streets, and historic landmarks.  Travel through narrow streets lined with the townhouses of colonial planters. Witness where generations of patriots lived, and worshiped in some of America’s oldest religious buildings. Listen to fascinating stories of the American Revolution and the War between the States. Your journey will include a stop at the Battery Waterfront and a tour of the elegant interior of a restored historic home, the Joseph Manigault House.

Note: Only offered on cruises ending in Charleston, SC or on the East Coast Inland Passage cruise.

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Fort Sumter

Take a ferry ride over to historic Fort Sumter, where the Civil War began. Once aboard the ferry, experience a relaxing narrated cruise to historic Fort Sumter. 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 as you explore a captivating onsite museum.

Note: Only offered on cruises ending in Charleston, SC or on the East Coast Inland Passage cruise.

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Day 2
Beaufort, SC

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. As you explore this amazing city, discover why Beaufort was once heralded as the “Newport of the South."

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Beaufort History & Movies Walking Excursion

Explored by the Spanish, the French, and the English, Beaufort has a rich historic charm that abounds in beautiful antebellum homes, moss-draped live oak trees, and friendly local charm. On this guided walk through the historic district, learn about its over 300 years of fascinating history, as well as the many Hollywood films shot on location here. Among some of the iconic movies that have used this charming town as a backdrop include the Great Santini, The Big Chill, Forrest Gump, and Rules of Engagement, among many others.

coastal cruises

Lowcountry Heritage Experience

Enjoy a trip “Back in Time” with guides in period dress who tell stories and sing songs. Visit the Gullah communities and learn about the life of southern planters and their slaves. While on the tour, visit Lady’s Island and St. Helena, where you will view the grounds of a plantation, a slave cemetery, and an old praise house. Learn the history of Penn Center, the first school for newly freed slaves in the Deep South, and discover what happened to the former slave communities from the Civil War days to the present.

coastal cruises

Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride

Take an enchanting narrated horse-drawn carriage ride through the lovely tree-lined streets of historic Beaufort, a sophisticated and charming town offering visitors a true Lowcountry experience. Listen as your guide tells stories about the past and present owners of lovely southern antebellum homes, many of which were spared destruction during the Civil War as Union officers commandeered them as hospitals, offices, and residences.

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Day 3
Hilton Head Island, SC

Hilton Head is a first class resort known for its championship golf courses and miles of scenic beaches. A boat tour of The Sea Pines Forest Preserve gives you a close-up view of Hilton Head's indigenous plant and animal life, including the American Alligator.

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Dolphin Discovery Cruise

Take a cruise to find out how playful, endearing, and amazing bottle-nose dolphins truly are. Not long into your tour, someone will catch sight of a pod of dolphins swimming nearby, as they come up for air every few seconds. You will witness dolphins riding alongside the boat, or surfing in the wake behind, so be sure to bring your camera for this excellent photo opportunity. Your knowledgeable guide will share bottle-nose dolphin facts with you, such as how the shallow waters around the island provide the perfect place for dolphins to find food. With this insight, you will able to appreciate these intelligent and beautiful water creatures even more.

coastal cruises

Alligator & Wildlife Excursion

We will anchor in Hilton Head and tender into shore, where you will be greeted by our local guide for one of our most popular shore excursions in the area. 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. Your guide will provide an engaging and educational tour while you enjoy the breathtaking views of the freshwater lake. In the afternoon, take to explore Hilton Head’s popular shopping district or relax back on board before the evening’s entertainment.

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Day 4
Savannah, GA

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. Join a narrated tour of Savannah’s “Historic and Victorian Districts," brave an evening Ghost Walk, or explore the area's magnificent shops.

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The Secrets of Savannah

When darkness falls on Savannah, the city takes on a different personality. As daylight fades and gas lamps illuminate the Historic District, enjoy a beautiful, romantic, and haunting view of Savannah. Our local guide will offer a fascinating narrative delving into history you may not have read in school, sharing juicy anecdotes about the colony's beginnings, as well as tales from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Learn the stories behind notable monuments and statues in Savannah's famous squares.

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Savannah Comedy Trolley Escapade

Enjoy this high-energy, whirlwind comedy trip through some of the wildest and most hilarious history that Savannah has to offer. A witty history lesson, this excursion features entertaining comedy skits, musical numbers, costume changes, a few absurd appearances, and loads of Savannah history. Hosted by the infamous twins, Johnny and Danny Moron, this mad romp around Savannah will give you all the inside gossip on practically every important moment that has transpired throughout Savannah’s past and present, from the Civil War to why every tourist must take a selfie on the Forrest Gump bench.

coastal cruises

Savannah Exploration

Amid the bustling River Street section of Savannah, meet with our local guide who will lead the group on a narrated walking tour of historic Savannah. Visit key attractions including Savannah’s oldest neighborhood, Colonial Park Cemetery, the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, and a few of Savannah’s 22 squares that provide greenery amid all of the businesses and historic houses. As you explore the various gardens, admire the architecture, and learn about the city’s history, your guide will tailor the tour to suit the group’s interests.

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Day 5
St. Simons Island, GA

Recently voted among the most romantic destinations in the U.S., St. Simons is abounding in rich history, southern charm, and unspoiled natural beauty. Explore its monumental 18th-century battlefields and sprawling antebellum plantations and admire the lovely Southern Oaks draped with Spanish moss that adorn the island.


coastal cruises

Lady Jane Shrimp Boat Experience

After a hearty breakfast, meet your skipper for the day at the gangway of the ship, before making your way to the Lady Jane. Relax as the refreshing scent of salt water fills the air and the retired shrimping vessel makes its way through the scenic Marshes of Glynn south of St. Simons Sound. Be on the lookout for wildlife such as dolphins and pelicans. Once you arrive at your captain’s favorite spot, you will have the opportunity to pull in your very own catch!

St. Simons Island

St. Simons Island Exploration

St. Simons Island is the largest of the Golden Isles with 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. Our lively private guide will take you through the battlegrounds and explain the military strategies employed by both sides. Afterward, visit Christ Church, one of St. Simons most treasured landmarks, with magnificent stained glass art that is sure to impress. 

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Day 6
Jekyll Island, GA

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

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Howfyl Broadfield Plantation

Enjoy a guided exploration of this beautiful estate, a rice plantation founded by Williams Brailsford in the early 1800s, which continued to produce rice until 1913. Generations later, Hofwyl-Broadfield became a dairy farm run by enterprising family descendants, thereby preserving the family legacy. In 1973, the last heir, Ophelia Dent, left the plantation to the state of Georgia.

Visit the onsite museum which features silver from the family collection and a model of Hofwyl-Broadfield during its heyday. Watch a brief film on the plantation’s history, before a short walk to the antebellum home. Led by an expert guide, witness the home as Ophelia kept it with family heirlooms, 18th and 19th-century furniture, and Cantonese china. The site also includes a nature trail along the edge of the marsh where rice once flourished, which leads back to the Visitor Center.

Note: Only offered on cruises ending in Charleston, SC

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Jekyll Island Exploration

Visit the Sea Turtle Center, devoted to the study, care, and rehabilitation of sea turtles and their environment. On a guided exploration, learn about marine turtles, their conservation and rehabilitation, as well as their life cycle. Hop on a tram to the Historic District, where you will travel through Millionaire’s Village, 240 acres of extravagant homes and cottages. Some of the wealthiest American men of the 19th century vacationed on the island, including J.P. Morgan, Joseph Pulitzer, William Rockefeller, and Cornelius Vanderbilt. Next, visit the Jekyll Island Mosaic Museum which celebrates the past and present of this multi-faceted Island.

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Richland Rum Distillery

Explore Richland Rum Distillery, an artisan copper pot distillery, dedicated to crafting Richland Single Estate Old Georgia Rum. Gain firsthand knowledge of all aspects of the creating rum, including processing of unrefined pure cane syrup, fermentation, distillation, aging, and bottling. At the conclusion of your excursion, enjoy a tasting of their award-winning rum, named by Forbes as the best rum in America.

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Jekyll Island Beach Excursion

Enjoy a narrated ride through beautiful Jekyll Island! Your expert guide from the 4-H Tidelands Nature Center will take you around the island, visiting a couple of Jekyll’s beaches. Learn about the natural history of the island and what makes each beach look so different. See Driftwood Beach, Glory Beach, and some of the marshes so integral to the ecosystem of Jekyll Island.

Note: Only available on cruises ending in Charleston, SC.

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Day 7
Amelia Island, FL

Discover the natural beauty of Amelia Island, with its miles of quartz beaches and rolling sand dunes. Fernandina Beach, the island's only city, now harbors a treasure trove of history, antiques, and collectibles. Join a walking tour of Centre Street's Historic District, with 50 blocks of restored 19th-century Victorian homes and shops.

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Ocean Kayak Eco-Exploration

Enjoy a relaxing paddle that winds through the forested wetlands of Yulee, Florida. An ancient waterway, this creek features a unique ecosystem, reminiscent of an old south bayou – brackish water teeming with unique plants, animals, and reptiles. It’s an intimate nature experience, where you can expect to get up close to turtles, alligators, otters, and occasionally, manatees. The terrestrial nature of the forest attracts a variety of birds including woodpeckers, red shoulder hawks, and the curious anhinga, sometimes referred to as the “water turkey.”

This is a Signature shore excursion and should be reserved in advance. Please call (800) 460-4518 for information.

Note: This excursion is only offered on cruises ending in Amelia Island, FL.

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Coastal Discovery Walk

Fort Clinch State Park sits at the intersection of Civil War history and natural splendors. Enjoy a relaxed walk under towering live oaks, out to vast stretches of pristine beaches, and along meandering rivers. The park’s salt and freshwater marshes offer a variety of habitats, including over 100 species of birds that live here permanently or a stop by during the migratory season. Alligators, deer, manatees, gopher tortoises, and river otters have all been spotted within the 1,400 acre park. Along your guided exploration, learn about the wildlife, the native communities, and the role that Fort Clinch has contributed to American history.

This is a Signature shore excursion and should be reserved in advance. Please call (800) 460-4518 for information. 

Note: This excursion is only offered on cruises ending in Amelia Island, FL.

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Fort Clinch State Park

Visit Fort Clinch State Park, located on a peninsula near the northernmost point of Amelia Island at the entrance to the Cumberland Sound. Admire the scenic landscapes that surround you, including sand dunes, planes, maritime hammock, and estuarine tidal march. Explore the 19th-century Fort Clinch, which served as the area base of Union operations throughout the Civil War.

Note: This excursion is only offered on cruises ending in Amelia Island, FL.

coastal cruises

Amelia Island River Cruise

Take in the view of Florida’s third oldest city, beautiful Fernandina Beach, on a relaxing river boat tour. A benefit of touring the island from the water is the increased chance of seeing the unique wildlife that inhabits the islands’ surrounding waters, including the American Alligator. In addition, your tour will include the island’s main attractions such as Fort Clinch and the Amelia Island Lighthouse.

Note: This excursion is only offered on cruises ending in Amelia Island, FL.

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Fernandina Beach Seaport Exploration

Join a local guide for a leisurely walking tour through the lovely Victorian seaport of Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island. Your walk will begin at the City Marina. Continue to the seafood house for an enlightening discussion on the pelican population and fisherman duties. Stroll through the historic streets and admire blocks of restored Victorian homes, inns, churches, and more.

Note: This excursion is only offered on cruises ending in Amelia Island, FL.

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Day 8
Amelia Island, FL

Take in the beautiful weather of northern Florida as you disembark in lovely Amelia Island. Reflect on the great time you had and the wonderful memories you made along way. American Cruise Lines offers complimentary transportation to Jacksonville Airport for your convenience.

Experiences

On this 8-day cruise, experience the charm and hospitality of the South. The fascinating sites you visit, the warm people you meet, and the delectable cuisine you taste, come together for an unforgettable journey.

Your Cruise Includes

American Star

American Star offers guests a friendly and accommodating atmosphere, a hallmark of American Cruise Lines.

From charming small towns to gracious ports, the American Star brings guests to places of historic interest and magnificent beauty. On board, enjoy personalized service and gracious hospitality provided by an attentive, all-American staff.


Click a Category

Owner's Suite (Private Balcony)

Deckplan

Experience complete comfort in this spacious private sanctuary where you can feel right at home. At 350 sq. ft. the Owner’s Suite is quite roomy and offers a full-size bathroom. Enjoy a large sitting area, a writing desk, closet, and a private balcony offering expansive views from a stunning vantage point.

AAC (Private Balcony)

Deckplan

These 283 sq. ft. staterooms are located on the top deck which provides privacy and great panoramic views. The living space is comparable to that of a fine hotel room and offers a writing desk, a closet, a full-size bathroom and a private balcony.

AAL (Private Balcony)

Deckplan

AAL staterooms are a spacious retreat with all the amenities a modern traveler expects. Each room offers 263 sq. ft. of space encompassing a full-size bathroom, a private balcony, and a large opening picture window.

AA

Deckplan

AA Category staterooms are the perfect place to unwind after a day of exploration. Each 258 sq. ft. room has a large opening picture window with views of the passing scenery. The rooms also offer full-size bathrooms and plenty of closet space.

A

Deckplan

A category rooms are a quiet enclave for total relaxation. They come equipped with a full assortment of modern amenities and a large opening picture window. Each room is 258 sq. ft. and is ideal for cruising the inland waterways of the East Coast.

 

Single (Private Balcony)

Deckplan

The intimate atmosphere of each Single stateroom is ideal for the solo traveler. At 248 sq. ft. each room has a twin bed, a full-size bathroom, a private balcony, and plenty of room to spread out and make yourself at home.

American Star Deck Plan

Deck

Independence

With the latest in navigation and safety technology, the Independence is fully stabilized, allowing American Cruise Lines to reach even more fascinating destinations in smooth comfort.

The ship is equipped with the largest staterooms in the industry, most featuring a private balcony. Complete with an exercise area and putting green, the Independence offers guests a relaxed and casual atmosphere.


Click a Category

Owner's Suite (Private Balcony)

Deckplan

Experience complete comfort in this spacious private sanctuary where you can feel right at home.  At 350 sq. ft. the Owner’s Suite is quite roomy and features a full-size bathroom. Enjoy a large sitting area, writing desk, closet, and a private balcony offering expansive views from a stunning vantage point.

AAC (Private Balcony)

Deckplan

These staterooms are centrally located on the top deck which provides stunning panoramic views. Enjoy 283 sq. ft. of comfortable living space, comparable to a fine hotel room. All also offer private walk-out balconies and a generously sized bathroom.

AAL (Private Balcony)

Deckplan

AAL staterooms are a spacious retreat with all the amenities a modern traveler expects. Each room offers 263 sq. ft. of space encompassing a full-size bathroom and a private balcony with scenic views.

A

Deckplan

These comfortable staterooms located on the main deck offer 258 sq. ft. of living space and are a perfect place to unwind after a day of exploration. They feature full-size bathrooms, interior entrances, and large opening picture windows for scenic views.

Single (Private Balcony)

Deckplan

Single staterooms offer the solo traveler a quiet enclave to rest and relax. At 248 sq. ft., our Single suites feature twin beds, spacious bathrooms, and your very own private balcony.

Single

Deckplan

Located on the main deck, our Single staterooms offer guests 207 sq. ft. of space with premium beds, spacious bathrooms, and an opening picture window with private views.

Independence Deck Plan

Deck

The Spirit of the Season Cruise


Celebrate the holidays on our Spirit of the Season Cruises which sail from late November into the New Year. Aboard our ship decked out in festive décor, travel to some of the most fascinating destinations in the country as you are treated to the best in holiday-inspired cuisine, music, and onboard and onshore enrichment.

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Reserve Cruise

Thanksgiving Cruise


Celebrate Thanksgiving with American Cruise Lines, as we cruise the Historic South from Jacksonville to Charleston.

Enjoy festive decorations aboard the ship and a holiday-inspired cocktail reception, as you revel in the holiday spirit of each community we visit along the way. Our culinary team has prepared a traditional Thanksgiving feast with roast turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and stuffing. Every detail will be handled precisely for you, making for a relaxed and memorable holiday.

American Cruise Lines will continue its annual "Give-Back" program this holiday season. For each ticket sold on our Thanksgiving cruises, we make a donation to the Food Bank. Last year we raised over $13,000 to help alleviate hunger.

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Reserve Cruise

Christmas Cruise


Join us for a joyful celebration aboard our Historic South & Golden Isles Christmas cruise. Enjoy sailing the warm waters of the Intracoastal Waterway on our ship adorned with festive décor. Dine on traditional holiday favorites prepared with a regional flair, partake in our holiday gift exchange, and enjoy classic holiday music, caroling, and cookies throughout the cruise.

Experience festive holiday-themed shore excursions, including a tour of the renowned Amelia Island Gingerbread Display at the Ritz-Carlton, a complimentary afternoon tea at the Ritz, and Charleston's famous Festival of Lights.  Each holiday cruise celebration includes a complimentary night aboard the ship before your cruise, with a special holiday dinner and welcome reception.

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New Year's Eve Cruise


 Let American Cruise Lines help you ring in the New Year as we explore the most captivating destinations from Charleston to Jacksonville.

On your ship decked out in holiday décor, enjoy a special menu and musical entertainment throughout the cruise. We will also host a unique Southern Style themed New Year’s Eve Gala.

Guests are invited to a complimentary night on board, the evening before the cruise begins, and will be treated to a welcoming reception and special holiday dinner.

 

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Civil War Cruise


Delve deep into the history of the American Civil War by exploring the battlefields, monuments, and museums of this pivotal event. Visit historical sites including Charleston and Beaufort to gain better insight into the circumstances that led to war. The onboard program is perfectly tailored to the itinerary, emphasizing the personalities and strategies of the Confederate and Union generals, as well as the incredible sacrifice made by millions of Americans.

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Eagle Society Cruise


Step back in time on this historically rich itinerary that features horse-drawn carriage rides, renowned seaports, and salt marshes with a variety active wildlife. Eagle Society members will enjoy the abundance of natural beauty, delicious regional cuisine, and architectural treasures from plantation homes to centuries-old towns.

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* Prices displayed are per person based on double occupancy.

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The American Cruise Lines Difference

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First-Class Staterooms
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Delicious Cuisine
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