Historic South & Golden Isles - 2021


The name for my sixth American Cruise Lines cruise, “Historic South & Golden Isles”, turned out to be more literally true than was perhaps intended.  We actually made history!

This was the first cruise, by any cruise company, on any North American waterway, to depart in 2021 -- or really since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, except for a few failed attempts early in 2020!  Lots of precautions had been taken.  There were only 24 passengers (and a reduced crew), all passengers had been vaccinated, everyone had tested negative a few days before boarding and again as soon as we boarded, everyone had to use masks and physically distance, the crew had all been in quarantine, etc.  Also, we were in a “bubble” so no wandering around or shopping on your own, no dining ashore, stay together on excursions, etc.  So it was safe, relaxed, and truly historic!  And FUN!

After a few email exchanges, I think I should clarify a few things.

(1) The cruise was rescheduled to March 2021 back when a 2020 cruise was canceled; it was pure luck that it turned out to be the first cruise of 2021.

(2) The CDC has different departure rules for “small” ships (less than 250 passenger capacity) - all of the ACL ships are less than 200, and Independence is 100.  As noted earlier, this cruise had only 24 passengers.

(3) Everyone had to be vaccinated, but my second Pfizer shot was 4+ weeks prior to departure.

The cruise was scheduled to depart on Saturday, March 13 from Jacksonville, FL and disembark in Charleston, SC.  Since it was the first cruise, we were offered the opportunity to board and have a “night on board” on Friday, prior to departure.  For whatever reason we actually boarded in Fernandina Beach, FL, just below the Georgia border, about 37 miles NE of Jacksonville.  And, due to an impending snow storm (that dropped almost two feet of snow back back in Colorado!) I headed out a day early, on March 11, and spent the night in a Jacksonville hotel.  An Uber ride got me to Fernandino Beach.

Most of the cruise was along the “Intracoastal Waterway” (ICW), between the Atlantic shoreline and the offshore barrier islands.  We had onshore excursions every day but one, both on the mainland and on the barrier islands.

Most of the photos are geotagged, so you can see exactly where they were taken, usually to within a few meters.  The photos are arranged by day; the menu at the top of each page shows links for the days.  They’re all size-reduced for the web, but I’d be happy to send you a copy of any photos you want, or all of them on a DVD.

March 12 - 20, 2021