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Monday, November 23, 2020

Ahoy There, Charleston!

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South Carolina’s cradle of culture, history, and shrimp & grits exceptionalism is a beautiful spot to begin your voyage at sea. 

Vacation Extenders

Ever wonder why there are so many native South Carolinians on the PGA Tour? Chalk it up to the amicable climate coupled with ages of short game practice. Along with the first shots of the Civil War, Charleston also can claim some of the nation’s earliest golf shots. Players at Harleston Green, America’s first golf club, began knocking around balls filled with boiled feathers on a rectangular field bounded by Calhoun and Beaufain streets from Rutledge to Barre in 1786. In contemporary times the place to play is Kiawah Island which features a quintet of rave-worthy courses including designs by Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Fazio and Pete & Alice Dye. The latter designed The Ocean Course, a seaside stunner that has hosted a gaggle of major tournaments and is poised to add another chapter to its legacy with the 2021 PGA Championship. While The Ocean Course is the most sought-after tee time in the Charleston area, Wild Dunes’ pair of tracks on Isle of Palms are also magnets for visiting golfers. RiverTowne, an Arnold Palmer design routed along the Wando River and Horlbeck Creek, is a lesser-known gem well worth playing. 

If teeing it up is not your thing, consider tea-ing it up at Charleston Tea Plantation on Wadmalaw Island. Get steeped on the tea cultivating process and sip on some bush-to-cup American Classic Tea. Educational tours of the tea production factory and trolley tours of the 127-acre grounds will leave visitors with an enhanced appreciation for everything that goes into their daily cup.  

Stay to Play

Cruisers often tack on an extra couple days before shipping out or after they return to port to reacquaint themselves with the landlubbing Southern charms of the Holy City. A genteel horse drawn carriage ride provides just the right pace and vantage to soak up the grandeur of Charleston’s steepled skyline and antebellum architecture. The ride will whet one’s appetite for that bowl of plump shell-stripped crustaceans bathed in maize porridge or perhaps a Frogmore stew. Carnival’s cruise ship passenger terminal is perched on Union Pier on the edge of the historic district so it’d be easy to fit in a quick tour and nibble prior to departure on embarkation day. If you plan on visiting attractions beyond downtown, adding a couple nights will provide a lot more leeway.

All Aboard

On your round-trip journey to the Bahamas, Bermuda, or the Eastern Caribbean and then back to Charleston, chances are you’ll be aboard the Carnival Ecstasy, a Fantasy class 855-foot floating resort. Last year’s refitting added a burger concept courtesy of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives host Guy Fieri, a vintage “cocktail pharmacy” dubbed Alchemy Bar, Blue Iguana Cantina and Cherry on Top, a confectionery sanctuary that’ll fulfill your sweet tooth desires. 

The majority of cruises out of Charleston are 4- to 5-day affairs and the most popular ports of call on these shorter routes are Nassau, Freeport, Half Moon Cay and Princess Cays. When you get into 7- to 12-day duration territory you’ll reach beyond the Bahamian isles hitting destinations like Bermuda, Turks & Caicos, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, St. Thomas and more. High season is February through April and June through August, but cruises are offered year round. 

Where to Stay

If you’re overnighting it in Charleston, save on your stay with your AAA Membership at one of these AAA Four Diamond hotels.  Visit AAA.com and book your room today!

  • The Restoration, 75 Wentworth St.
  • Belmond Charleston Place, 205 Meeting St.
  • Harbourview Inn, 2 Vendue Range
  • Planters Inn, 112 North Market St.

Explore historic Charleston before your ocean adventures. Call 800-398-0379 to book your Carnival cruise and arrange your Charleston accommodations.

(Jan/Feb 2018 Go Magazine)

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