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Savannah, Georgia (Photo: f11photo/Shutterstock)
Savannah, Georgia (Photo: f11photo/Shutterstock)
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

Andrea M. Rotondo
Cruise Critic Contributor

Port of Savannah

As American cities go, Savannah is positively ancient. The British established it in 1733, but Georgia didn't become a U.S. state for 55 more years. This port city, nestled along the Savannah River, was a major player in both the American Revolution and American Civil War, and plenty of historic buildings date from those eras. And, while you might think that a visit is relegated to reliving the past, the truth couldn't be any more different.

To be honest, Savannah is a bit of a shape-shifter. Depending on who you are and how you like to experience a new destination, this grand dame will show you a different side. History and architecture buffs can roam the city's squares and parks to their heart's content to see and learn about the figures and buildings that made Savannah what it is today.

Active adventure-seekers will see its raw beauty on the Savannah Riverfront and nearby Tybee Island, which old-timers call Savannah Beach. Shoppers will stick to the boutiques that line River Street, Broughton Street and the open-air, 18th-century-era City Market. Foodies will be amazed at the variety of cuisines, and photographers will be captivated by majestic 100-year-old live oaks draped with Spanish moss.

While only a few small-ship coastal cruises call on Savannah, it's a fantastic place to visit, even if you don't arrive by ship.

The best part about Savannah is its authenticity. You get the sense that Savannah doesn't put on airs for anyone, and what you see is what you get: a Southern city that treats visitors just like its very own good ol' boys. Visit Savannah, and we guarantee you'll be smitten.

Shore Excursions

About Savannah


Pro

Charming Southern city with moss-draped oak trees, quaint squares, historic buildings and fab dining scene.

Con

Humidity! If visiting during the summer, get up early and explore before the midday heat.

Bottom Line

Historians, sailors, foodies and those who appreciate the quirkiness of the south will love Savannah.


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Port Facilities

American Cruise Lines' Independence and American Star dock at River Front Plaza on River Street. Day trip river cruises also dock along River Street in different locations. There are plenty of shops and restaurants to keep you busy along River Street's promenade.

Good to Know

Savannah is the epitome of a "walkable city," so wear comfy shoes with support since you'll traverse a lot of old cobblestone streets. Wear a hat (wide-brimmed if you're fair skinned), apply sunscreen, and either bring some water or stop at any of the city's cafes, bars or restaurants to stay hydrated throughout the day.

Getting Around

On Foot: Savannah was meant to be explored on two feet. If arriving by cruise ship, you'll disembark and start exploring off River Street, which parallels the Savannah River. Then, picture a rectangle with many of the city's attractions inside. It's bounded by East Broad and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard with Liberty Street (parallel to River Street) connecting them. City Market is a 10-minute walk, and the historic district is just a 20-minute stroll. Popular Forsyth Park is beyond those boundaries, but you can still walk (though it will take a half-hour).

By Public Transportation: Savannah offers free shuttle bus service via two routes -- Downtown and Forsyth Park -- with 24 stops. The Downtown bus connects the upper historic district, downtown squares and attractions with the main visitors center, as well as parking areas on Liberty Street and at the Civic Center. The Forsyth Park route goes down Bull Street, up Drayton and down Whitaker between Johnson Square and Forsyth Park. Also look for the Savannah Belles Ferry, which links River Street (at City Hall Landing) with Hutchinson Island across the river (at the convention center). Look for purple signs that say "DOT," and board the free purple vehicle that stops. Buses run every 10 minutes and have Wi-Fi.

By Taxi: Taxis are available in Savannah, as are rideshares like Uber and Lyft. A Lyft trip between River Front Plaza and Forsyth Park will run you $6 to $8.

By Rental Car: Skip the rental car unless you plan to explore beyond the city. You can easily get everywhere you need to go by walking, using the free bus and ferry system, or paying for a hop-on, hop-off sightseeing trolley.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

Currency is the U.S. dollar. There's an ATM at 115 East River Street, just a few feet from where ships dock at River Front Plaza. You'll find bank branches and additional ATMs across the city. For example, there's one at 303 W. Saint Julian Street (at Jefferson Street), a one-minute walk from City Market, and another that's inside Parker's 24-hour convenience store at 325 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, between W. Harris and W. Charlton streets (a two-minute walk from the historic district).

Language

English is spoken in Savannah.

Food and Drink

The problem with Savannah is the plethora of incredible food and drinking establishments. There just aren't enough meals in a day for you to try all the hot spots, but you should do your best.

Sandfly BBQ: Don't leave this Southern city without a taste of barbecue and/or good old-fashion comfort food. Sandfly BBQ, housed in a Streamliner trailer, gets the nod for its duck fat French fries, pulled pork, St. Louis-style spareribs and Brunswick stew. (1220 Barnard Street; 912-335-8058; Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. until the Q is gone)

Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room: This is the place for traditional Southern cooking served at communal tables for 10. Platters of fried chicken, cornbread dressing, sweet potato souffle, black-eyed peas, okra gumbo, corn muffins and biscuits are served to the hungry crowd that starts lining up at 11 a.m. Bring cash because credit cards aren't accepted. Lunch is $25 per person (half-price for kids 10 and younger). (107 West Jones Street; 912-232-5997; Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; closed in January)

Little Duck Diner: For gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, you will be astounded by the menu at Little Duck Diner. Locals swear by the duck grilled cheese with duck caramelized onions, roasted tomatoes and cheese. (105 W. Saint Julian Street; 912-235-6773; Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.)

Leopold's Ice Cream: Finally, as you shop your way along Broughton Street, take a break at Leopold's Ice Cream (212 E. Broughton Street; 912-234-4442), open Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight. An institution since 1919, the shop offers a variety of seasonal flavors each month -- think Japanese cherry blossom, rose petal cream, habanero sugar, German chocolate and eggnog -- plus traditional flavors like vanilla, peppermint, peanut butter and more. Sandwiches, soups and pastries are also served.

Shopping

There are plenty of cute boutiques, art galleries and food vendors to garner your attention throughout the city, especially along River Street, Broughton Street and at City Market.

Savannah Bee Company: Most every visitor makes it a point to drop by one of the Savannah Bee Company outlets to purchase honey, soap, candles and beauty products like beeswax hand cream or lip balm. (104 West Broughton Street; 912-233-8775; open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 1 West River Street; 912-234-7088; Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.)

Chocolat by Adam Turoni: If the people on your gift list are more interested in edible souvenirs, check out Chocolat by Adam Turoni. There are exquisite chocolates filled with Savannah honey; mint julip, red velvet cake and Georgia peach truffles; and classics like peanut butter cups, nonpareils and chocolate-covered pretzels. Visit the flagship shop at 323 W. Broughton Street; 912-335-2914; or head to 236 Bull Street; 912-335-2068. Both are open Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.