Philly is one of America's premiere cities and well worth making your pre-cruise destination.
Mention cruising to most people and Philadelphia won't be the first place that comes to mind. But Philly has proven itself as an exciting destination unto inself - sure to make your cruise vacation more memorable in many unexpected and rewarding ways. Many cruises leave from nearby Baltimore - so why not stay in Philly?
Two Vacations in One
A lot of us, born and bred on the west coast, have never had a true "American history" vacation. If you haven't, it is far more rewarding and fascinating than you ever realized. The U.S. east coast cities are more metropolitan than the west, with subway systems and downtowns bustling with people in suits and sidewalk cafes. Add in the experience of seeing how this great country was created, with a visit to a historic city like Philadelphia, and your vacation is as interesting and exciting as a trip to Europe in many ways.
The City of Brotherly Love truly welcomes tourists with open arms as a part of its historic heritage. Is very easy to navigate, and the downtown and port areas are easily accessible from the airport and the train facilities. In fact, you can arrive by plane, take a train to downtown easily, and once in the city you can do all the sightseeing you want with day-passes on the trolly system. Taxis are rarely needed, and very reasonable when they are. So, if you are considering a cruise to Bermuda, definitely consider taking it from Philly. You will glad that you did.
Philadelphia – Full of Life, Alive with History
Philadelphia is uniquely positioned -- some 25% of the population (62.2 million people) lives within a five hour drive. But even if you must fly to get to Philadelphia, you will discover a world-class city full of American history, a place that every one of us should see in our lifetime. A three-day pre- or post-cruise stay is a minimum amount of time to see Philadelphia, though if you have less time you can tailor your visit to make the best of it.
Today's Philadelphia offers gourmet restaurants, first-class hotels, affordable public transportation, and neighborhoods ranging from colorful and arty to solemn and historic -- all within walking distance of each other.
Philadelphia was our nation's capital before Washington D.C. was a twinkle in George Washington's eye, and it's no coincidence that our democracy was born there, since it was also the spawning ground for many ideals of American independence. The state of Pennsylvania was created as a sanctuary for religious freedom, and Philadelphia deserves its moniker "the city of brotherly love" because of its reputation for tolerance and diversity. Philadelphia is not only where our nation was born in 1776, with the Declaration of Independence and the ringing of the Liberty Bell (which is still there); but also where our government was born with the writing of the U.S. Constitution decades later.
Forget the old W.C. Fields joke, "I went to Philadelphia last weekend, but it was closed." Philly is a real city, alive with activity day and night. But the heart of Philadelphia is its historic role in the founding of American democracy.
The square mile in the city center is known as "Society Hill," and also as America's Most Historic Square Mile. In the center is Independence National Historical Park ( http://www.nps.gov/inde/ ), which contains Independence Hall (in actuality, the original Pennsylvania Statehouse), beautifully maintained since its historic days as the first meeting place of colonial representatives and later as the seat of U.S. government. Independence Hall contains the chair George Washington sat in while he presided over the Constitutional Convention, and Thomas Jefferson's walking stick lies on the desk he occupied as his countrymen debated his handiwork.
The Liberty Bell Pavilion, across the street from Independence Hall, is the museum for the history of the bell and all the events associated with it throughout our history. One exhibit depicts Susan B. Anthony reading the "Declaration of Rights of Women of the United States" on July 4, 1876, for the centennial celebration. Near the pavilion is Carpenter's Hall, the site of the first meetings of Congress.
The National Constitution Center ( http://www.constitutioncenter.org/ ), adjacent to these attractions, is a large interactive museum/exhibition hall dedicated to the Constitution (the actual document is in Washington D.C.). It offers a great presentation on the role Philadelphia played in our history, and also happens to be a great place for buying souvenirs.
The Independence Visitor Center is also nearby. This is where you get tickets to Independence Hall. Since security has been ratcheted up several notches in the last few years, it is mandatory to arrive early to get your tickets if you want to see Independence Hall on that same day.
Between Independence Hall and the banks of the Delaware River is the old city of Philadelphia. Spend a day walking here with a map in hand and you are sure to discover treasures around every corner.
Betsy Ross' House ( http://www.betsyrosshouse.org/ ) is a must-see. During the summer, actors in period costumes on a makeshift stage recreate historic moments with generous amounts of artistic license and good humor. The tour of the Ross household (admission $3), which starts at ground level, goes upstairs and down through the cellar, presenting room after room of daily life from the period, and breathes life into this birthplace of liberty.
Christ Church ( http://www.christchurchphila.org/ ), the oldest church in continual service in North America and for 75 years the tallest building on the continent, was built in 1754 for the Church of England. In 1776 it became the birthplace of Episcopalianism, and if you are lucky, the original version of the King James Bible (where the sections blessing the King of England and his family had been unceremoniously crossed out, an act of treason at the time) will be on display. The burial ground that includes Ben Franklin's grave is a few blocks away.
Lights of Liberty ( http://www.lightsofliberty.org/ ) is a nighttime walking tour of the city center, with headphones playing a pre-recorded program while slides and lighting effects show on screens around the historic buildings and on their walls. It is a bit pricey and will appeal mostly to pre-teens, but it certainly makes history come alive and is a great way to spark an appreciation for the l events surrounding the birth of our nation.
The Delaware River Waterfront is of special interest to those who love the sea. Be sure to see the Independence Seaport Museum at Penn's Landing, which includes the USS Olympia and USS Becuna, a 1900-era U.S. Navy battleship and a WWII-era submarine, both anchored in the river and open to visitors.
Reading's Market, 12th and Arch Sts., is the oldest continually running marketplace in the United States, and one of the best European-style city marketplaces anywhere in the U.S. The Amish (Pennsylvania Dutch) bring their handmade wares on Wednesdays through Saturdays. Another must there is the home of the original Philadelphia Cheese Steak, Rick's. (Story & recipe: http://search.yumyum.com/recipe.htm?ID=20802 ).
For easy and affordable dining and souvenirs close to the city center attractions, stop in the Bourse, a huge galleria-type food court surrounded by memorabilia shops. It is directly east of Independence Square Park.
Philadelphia has many museums, and a few are truly world-class. The Franklin Institute, founded more than 175 years ago, is considered a "must-see" attraction by many visitors. It contains tributes to inventions over the centuries, with many hands-on exhibits. It includes everything from Franklin's original lightning rod to the world's largest pinball machine.
The Independence Seaport Museum at Penn's Landing includes the USS Olympia and USS Becuna, a 1900-era U.S. Navy battleship and a WWII-era submarine, both of which are anchored in the river and open to visitors.
Art lovers will enjoy the Rodin Museum, which holds the best collection of this artist outside of France, including an original cast of the famous statue "The Thinker." The Philadelphia Museum of Art's large collection includes Van Gogh's Sunflowers, Cézanne's The Large Bathers, and Picasso's Three Musicians. The most famous site there, however, is probably the museum's front steps, which Sylvester Stallone scaled in the movie Rocky.
Philadelphia's Port Facilities
The Philadelphia Cruise Terminal at Pier 1, on Broad Street in South Philadelphia, is less than five minutes from Interstate 95, just eight minutes from Philadelphia International Airport, and only 10 minutes from Center City Philadelphia and Amtrak's 30th Street Station.
Parking is available at the port for $10 per day (cash only). Short-term parking is provided for passenger and crew pick-ups and other guests who have written permission from the cruise line or The Port of Philadelphia and Camden to visit the cruise terminal or the ship. For security reasons, every vehicle driver must be prepared to show a valid photo driver's license. All vehicle passengers must be prepared to show a valid photo ID.
Port Parking Information: http://www.cruisephilly.com/pages/visitors/parking.html
Driving Directions: http://www.cruisephilly.com/pages/visitors/directions.php
2007 Cruise Schedule: http://www.cruisephilly.com/pages/visitors/destinations.html
Getting To Town/Public Transportation Philly isn't just for people who want to drive to their cruise. The city is tops for travel convenience with or without a car. The Philadelphia airport is a quick trip from downtown, and Southwest Airlines has many affordable flights from throughout the U.S. The city's rail service (http://www.septa.org) will get you directly from your terminal to within a $5 cab ride of almost any hotel in the city center area, or to the pier.
Taxis are plentiful enough that one will come along every few minutes, and are very affordable. One can travel almost anywhere in the city center for under $5. Want to go even cheaper? You can ride the Phlash (http://www.gophila.com/phlash/) bus all day long for $4 per person, senior discount available. 2007 service begins May 25.
Taxi fees from the airport to downtown or to the cruise terminal are a flat $20.
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