Moored off the coast of Cuba is a giant cruise ship often going by the name of America. Though this vessel is permanently berthed between Mexico and Canada, that doesn’t stop people wanting to be its captain.
Right now Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are slugging it out for that honour. But whoever wins one thing is sure – the opportunities for sailing alongside the good ship USA and stepping on board remain as abundant as ever.
Even if you’ve never set foot in the States, you probably feel like it’s a place you know well. And the reason is not hard to see. No other country in history has exported its culture as widely or as effectively as the USA.
From popular music to cinema, from TV shows to technology, from burger bars to coffee shops, we’ve all had massive exposure to American creativity and enterprise.
However, if we really want to understand what makes this great country tick, I think we have to do more than watch a movie, listen to a rock song or down an icy frappuccino.
We have to pay it a visit.
Former British colony
But to do real justice to the land that gave us KFC and the Hubble space telescope, it can’t be any kind of visit. We have to recognise that the USA is highly diverse – a bit like several countries rolled into one.
To fully appreciate this we need to sample more than one location.
For that reason taking a cruise to this former British colony makes a lot of sense. In a single holiday you can drop in on a number of cities and observe the American way of life in its many different flavours.
World’s greatest cruisers
One point to remember is that Americans themselves are probably the world’s greatest cruisers, stepping aboard cruise ships in their millions.
You won’t be surprised to learn, therefore, that there is no shortage of packages available to help you explore their country.
Many east coast cruises will not only introduce you to some of the great cities on the American eastern seaboard but will also provide access to the Caribbean.
A good example is this 8 night Grandeur of the Seas cruise. Besides giving you a taste of Baltimore in Maryland, plus Port Canaveral and Key West in Florida, it will also transport you down to Cococay and Nassau in the Bahamas.
As always with fly cruises, prices vary depending on which airport you fly from. For an inside cabin it should be around £1,350 per person.
Having done the east coast, you may feel you understand America a lot better, but there’s still another side of this land that you really ought to experience.
A typical west coast cruise will serve up cities in California and Oregon, while in many cases allowing you to explore one or more Canadian ports as well.
How about something like this 8 night Celebrity Century package? It sails from San Diego on 27 April 2013 and includes in its itinerary California’s Santa Barbara and Monterey, as well as Astoria in Oregon. And if all that wasn’t enough you get Victoria and Vancouver in British Columbia thrown in for good measure.
Prices start from around £1,677 and include flights from and back to the UK.
This most northerly part of the US is like a giant magnet for cruise ships. Every year hundreds of thousands of cruisers are drawn by its promise of unspoilt scenery and stunning wildlife. They are rarely disappointed.
With nearly 200 packages to select from, the choice of options is impressive. Take this 7 night cruise on Radiance of the Seas.
It gets under way on 6 September 2013, sailing out of Vancouver to take a northerly direction. After a day at sea you hit four Alaskan attractions in four days: Icy Strait Point, Hubbard Glacier, Juneau and Ketchikan. Then it’s back to Vancouver.
Prices per person start from around £1,550.
Whoever wins the campaign to be President of the USA, whether it’s Barack Obama for the Democrats or Mitt Romney for the Republicans, and whatever policies they may introduce, some things will never change.
America’s love affair with cruising is likely to continue for a long time to come. That means the USA will remain a cruiser friendly destination, with lots of interesting options for you to explore well into the future.
With all this talk about the US presidency, I’m starting to feel left out of the whole experience. Maybe I should sign up for an American election cruise so I can watch the results coming in from the comfort of my ship.
And while I’m at it, maybe I should book up the presidential suite.
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