They call it the Low Country — the deeply indented shoreline along the coast of South Carolina, Georgia, and northeastern Florida. History was defined by the many rivers and waterways that cross the region; early European settlements gave rise to vibrant cities like Charleston, Savannah, and Jacksonville. In much later days, barrier islands near the mouth of these rivers evolved into stylish vacation resorts. Whether you cruise in search of food, fishing, or other outdoor fun, the region provides a fascinating insight into a part of the South that religiously clings to old ways and means.
The season runs from February though April, pauses during the (sweltering) summers, and picks up again at the end of the year with departures in November and December.
What We Love
Gullah-Geechee Culture: This fascinating African-American subculture developed after the Civil War when the white plantation owners abandoned the islands to their former slaves. More than a hundred years of isolation spawned unique language, crafts, and foods on Sapelo Island, Hilton Head, and elsewhere.
Cumberland Island: Reached by ferry from Amelia Island, Florida, and mainland Georgia, this huge barrier island at the mouth of the St. Marys River is now a flora- and fauna-rich national park that offers a glimpse at what this entire coast was like before Columbus.
Best Known For
The Grub: Food lovers flock to the region for marvelous Low Country cuisine that blends fresh seafood and locally grown garden goodies. She-crab soup, Low Country boil, and roasted oysters are just a few of the iconic dishes.
Posh Resorts: Hilton Head, St. Simons Island, Amelia Island, and Jekyll Island are among the most luxurious vacation outposts in the nation, a Dixie Riviera offering golf, tennis, and sailing as well as upscale shopping, dining, and entertainment.
Shop for Cruises
Charleston: Antebellum mansions line the waterfront and streets of this sultry Southern belle, and historic Fort Sumter lies just offshore. There's also great shopping in the old market and pretty good nightlife too.
Savannah: Laid out around 24 squares, this Georgia peach of a city flaunts a fascinating waterfront, hundreds of historic structures, a lively arts scene, and vibrant nightlife.
Beaufort: Set along the Harbor River, this laid-back South Carolina town is renowned for its gourmet restaurants, antebellum mansions, and the dozens of movies that have been filmed there over the years such as "The Big Chill," "Forrest Gump," "The Great Santini," and "The Prince of Tides."
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
No Large Ships: Vessels that ply the river and island route between Charleston and Jacksonville are generally on the smaller side (100 passengers or less) with far fewer amenities.
Joe Yogerst is a California-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Travel + Leisure.