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Homeport Cruises 101

Hit the high seas from your own backyard with this comprehensive overview to homeport cruises

By Andrew Hickey, Amber Nolan & Elissa Richard

February 23rd, 2009

Now, more than ever, travelers are seeking out vacation options that offer the best bang for their buck. And time and time again, a cruise vacation from a nearby "homeport" tops this list not only for its tremendous value, but for its sensible convenience, too. With a surplus of cost-conscious cruise lines operating in a healthy state of competition, our expert deal hunters have seen bargain cruises sell for as little as $99 of late, ranging from one-night dinner-and-dancing “cruises to nowhere” to quickie trips to the Bahamas. Even for more exotic and lengthy sailings to locales like Hawaii or Latin America, it’s rare to see cruise starting rates quoted above triple digits (there seems to be a psychological barrier that the cruise companies don’t wish to cross by pricing base rates above $999). Good luck stretching your dollar that far – with lodging, meals, transportation, and many activities thrown in – back on land. Plus, save loads of cash by skipping out on the expensive international or long-haul domestic flights and opting for ground transportation or quick flights to nearby homeports instead.

You’ll find that the landscape of homeport cruising has expanded quite dramatically over the last decade, with hundreds of itineraries disembarking from some 30 U.S. and Canadian homeports right in your own backyard – we’ve set out here to road map the options for your perfect cruise vacation. We’ve also outlined what to expect from each of the homeports, so you’ll know which ones are worth tacking on an extra day or two in – from stretching out on sandy Florida beaches to star-spotting in LA, the vacation can easily continue (or start up) on dry ground.

Read on for regional overviews to homeport cruises from the Northeast; the Southeast with Florida; the Gulf Coast; California; the Pacific Northwest with Alaska; and Hawaii. We've also outlined some top tips on booking homeport cruise vacations

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