Norfolk, Virginia is a Southern seaport with a storied past that blends history and heritage with contemporary activities and attractions. Minutes away are the world’s largest naval base, Naval Station Norfolk, and also the white sandy beaches of the Chesapeake Bay. Norfolk is your gateway to Virginia Beach, historic Jamestown or colonial Williamsburg, and Hampton Roads, site of the world’s first battle between iron ships during the Civil War.
Most Active or Strenuous
Minimal Activity Required
Enjoy getting acquainted with this historical city and some of its most well-known attractions on this mostly panoramic tour.
Due to its strategic location at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and an extensive deep-water harbor, Norfolk was the main American port for trade with England and the West Indies until the mid-18th century. Today, it is the second largest commercial port on the East Coast of the United States and a bustling city teeming with sights honoring its history. Norfolk is also home of the world's largest naval base.
Start off by learning about Norfolk's colorful 330 year history as you ride through the lovely historic district and restored areas. As you make your way throughout the city, you'll view the stately homes along the Hague, old St. Paul's Church - which still has a cannonball embedded in an outer wall from the British bombardment of 1776 - , the Moses Myers House, the Chrysler Museum of Art, the historic Freemason District, the restored waterfront area, and several other points of interest. Downtown Norfolk has undergone a complete transformation in the last decade and features the beautifully renovated Town Point Park with the Armed Forces memorial, a brand new $34 milliion cruise terminal, waterfront condos and a state of the art shopping area.
Continuing on, you'll enjoy a panoramic tour from your coach of Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval installation in the world. Home port to over 100 ships, 26 aircraft squadrons and headquarters of the Atlantic Fleet, the base occupies over 8,000 acres of land and is home to more than 100,000 military personnel. Your tour will take you past the piers, where you will see submarines and aircraft carriers, and numerous other types of vessels. You'll also drive through the Naval Air Station, home of the Navy's E2C Hawkeyes, and past the beautifully landscaped historic homes built for the 1907 Jamestown Exposition on "Admiral's Row" which now house the flag officers.
Lastly you will visit the MacArthur Memorial, final resting place of five star General Douglas MacArthur and his beloved wife, Jean. View the artifacts, documents, photographs and memorabilia housed in Norfolk's historic city hall which not only trace the life and times of General MacArthur, but the military history of the United States. You will also have the opportunity to view the 25 minute film which chronicles General MacArthur’s life. Nine separate galleries arranged in two levels circle the rotunda and tell the story of General MacArthur and the millions of American men and women who served in the United States Armed Forces from the Civil War through the Korean War. A gift shop with unique memorabilia is located on the premises.
At the conclusion of the tour, you will have the option of being dropped off in downtown Norfolk at the MacArthur Center for some free time for shopping, or return directly to pier. For those who elect to remain in town, it's a brief five minute walk back to the pier from the MacArthur Center.
Please note: This tour includes limited walking, mostly at the guests' discretion. The tour is available to wheelchair guests who have a collapsible wheelchair, are able to make their own way on and off the coach and have an able-bodied companion to assist them. Those with mobility concerns are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Weather appropriate clothing; sunglasses; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. All tour participants over the age of 16 must have a photo ID with them (drivers' license or passport). Any guests with a surgically implanted device that prevents them from going through a security scanner (i.e. pacemaker, metal stent, etc.), must have their medical card with them. Weapons of any kind, pocket knives or sharp nail files are strictly prohibited. Due to heightened security, all events on military installations are subject to change. The MacArthur Memorial Site is closed on Mondays and will be substitued with a visit to the Chrysler Museum.
Sail around historical Hampton Roads harbor on a beautiful 135-foot schooner, taking in the sights and even helping to sail the ship hands on.
Enjoy a short walk from the pier through serene Town Point Park to the American Rover, a sleek three-mast topsail schooner. After boarding this magnificent vessel, which was put into service in 1986, you will spend the next two hours sailing around Hampton Roads harbor.
The natural harbor is enormous as it encompasses the mouths of the Elizabeth and James rivers, which then flow into the Chesapeake Bay. The harbor is also quite historic, having played key roles in the American Revolution, War of 1812 and American Civil War.
As you are sailing, you may sit in the shade topside or in one of the comfortable lounges below decks. Along the shoreline, you will see a number of lush parks and placid bays, small rivers flowing into the harbor, and Craney Island U.S. Naval Reservation. To enhance the experience, the crew will provide commentary about the attractions and historical notes, such as the derivation of the name Craney Island, which 17th-century settlers mistakenly named believing the herons there to be cranes.
You may also join the crew, by setting the American Rover’s distinctive red sails, taking the helm or learning to tie nautical knots. The experience can be as interactive as you want, or you can simply sit back and relax. After sailing, you will walk back to the pier.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 30 minutes of walking and guests must be able to negotiate the gangway ramp. There are 2 steps to negotiate to enter the schooner and 10 steps to negotiate to reach the lower deck. The tour is available to wheelchair guests who have a standard sized wheelchair and an able-bodied companion to assist them; however, they will only have access to the upper deck. Oversized or motorized wheelchairs and scooters are not permitted. Those guests with mobility concerns are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Weather appropriate clothing to include a light jacket or windbreaker; sun cap; sunglasses; and flat, comfortable walking shoes with a non-slip sole are recommended.
Explore nearby Virginia Beach by visiting its massive modern aquarium, the first federally funded lighthouse and the famed boardwalk that stretches along three miles of ocean.
After departing from the pier, you will drive to the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Museum, the state’s largest such attraction. During free time, you can browse the exhibits that you find most interesting, which may include ones holding graceful loggerhead turtles, playful river otters and even menacing-looking tiger sharks. There is also an aviary and a replica of an Indonesian volcanic island where indigenous finches and Komodo dragons live.
Continuing on, you will arrive at Cape Henry Lighthouse, an historic structure that George Washington authorized to be built in 1792. If you climb to the top, you will be treated to spectacular views of the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean. The lighthouse was active for nearly a century, until the cast-iron lighthouse constructed nearby replaced it.
Another short drive takes you to the boardwalk at Virginia Beach, where you will have abundant free time to relax and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere and ocean setting. If you choose to stroll the three-mile boardwalk, you will find some of the best people watching in the state and a variety of seafood restaurants for lunch on your own. Of course, the sparkling ocean is always a major draw, so feel free to take a refreshing swim or just lounge along the shore. Afterwards, you will rejoin your coach and travel back to the pier in Norfolk. Those who miss the return transfer will have to make their own way back to the ship, at their own expense.
Please note: This tour includes just over 2-hours of easy to moderate walking plus any additional walking at the guests’ discretion during free time. There are sandy surfaces and a boardwalk at the beach. The tour is available to wheelchair guests who have a collapsible wheelchair, are able to make their own way on and off the coach and have an able-bodied companion to assist them. Those with walking difficulties are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Weather appropriate clothing; sun cap; sunglasses; sunscreen; a bottle of water from the ship; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Those who wish to swim or sun on the beach should bring a towel from the ship and wear a swimsuit under their clothing or a cover-up. Dependent on the season, the beach, shops and restaurants may be crowded. Guests taking part in any water activities do so at their own risk and responsibility.
This tour offers a wonderful overview of Norfolk and features several of its iconic attractions.
Boarding your coach at the pier, you'll first set-off for the Hermitage Foundation Museum. Nestled on 12 beautifully landscaped acres alongside the picturesque Lafayette River, this Tudor-style mansion was built in 1908 and features an outstanding collection of Eastern and Western art. The museum's collections are displayed in a unique home-like setting and represent the arts of America, England, France, Italy, Persia, Russia, Spain and the Far East. Included in the collection are paintings, sculptures, ivories, ritual bronzes, jade, Oriental rugs, tapestries, laces, embroidery and furniture. A visit to the Hermitage gives the 21st century visitor a sense of the life and artistic interests of a wealthy family in Virginia during the 1st half of the 20th century.
Next, enjoy a narrated panoramic tour through Norfolk's beautiful historic and restored areas. Your tour guide will point out many attractions adjacent to the cruise terminal and downtown area, such as Nauticus - The National Maritime Center, the Battleship Wisconsin, and the Moses Myers House, built in 1792 which still contains over 70 percent of the original furnishings. You will then drive by old St. Paul's Church, built in 1739 and the lone survivor of the 1776 bombardment of Norfolk by the British. The church still has a cannonball embedded in its outside wall! View the Chrysler Museum, one of the top twenty art museums in the country, and the old Freemason Historic District. You will also drive past the beautiful turn of the century homes along The Hague and the historic Ghent district.
Enjoy lunch at Freemason Abbey Restaurant, located in a 135 year-old renovated church, and in the heart of downtown Norfolk. The building was built, and originally dedicated as a church in 1873 by the congregation of the Second Presbyterian Church. In 1988, the planning of the Freemason Abbey Restaurant & Tavern began and the decor is designed to create a warm, casual yet elegant, tavern atmosphere.
Following lunch, enjoy a visit to the Norfolk Botanical Garden, which dates back to 1938, and is considered a premiere example of horticultural excellence on the East Coast of the United States. The Garden represents 155-acres of colorful landscapes, unusual flowers, mature forests and seasonal plantings and features one of the largest collections of azaleas, camellias, roses and rhododendrons in the United States. The thousands of azaleas typically reach their peak blooming season in mid-April and represent a majestic display of seasonal colors. Relax on a narrated trackless train ride through the winding garden pathways, and spend time browsing in the Garden Gift Shop which specializes in unique home and garden items and gifts.
No visit to Norfolk would be complete without a stop at Doumar's, home of the world's first ice cream cone machine and happily, this is your final tour stop. Abe Doumar created the first ice cream cone at the World's Fair of 1904 in St. Louis. It was so successful that he designed a four-iron waffle machine that he launched during the Jamestown Exposition of 1907. Today, the family business still bakes cones on the original cone machine, and has been recently featured on The Food Network's "Diners, Dives and Drive-Ins". While at Doumar's, a member of the Doumar family will give you an introduction and all guests will be treated to a tasty ice cream cone before re-boarding the coach and traveling back to the ship.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 2-hours of moderate walking over mostly even surfaces;
plus any additional walking at the guests' discretion during free time. There will be a few steps to
negotiate. The tour is available to wheelchair guests who have a collapsible wheelchair, are able to make
their own way on and off the coach and have an able-bodied companion to assist them. Those with
mobility concerns are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Weather
appropriate clothing; sun cap; sunglasses; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. The
tour sequence may vary. Doumar's is closed on Sundays.
Pre-Menu Selections are required for lunch and must be advised to the Destination Services Desk at least
24 hours in advance: All options include oven baked rolls, chef’s choice of dessert, coffee, iced tea, or soft drink.
1: Abbey Club Sandwich - Turkey, Black Forest ham, Swiss, bacon, lettuce and tomato, on toasted
sourdough with a hot & smoky mayo, served w/kettle chips
2: Crab Cake Sandwich – Four ounce lump crab cake, served on a Kaiser roll with roasted red pepper aioli
on the side, accompanied with Kettle chips.
3: Waldorf Chicken Salad Sandwich - homemade chicken salad with walnuts and apples served on a Kaiser
with lettuce, tomato, and Kettle chips.
Enjoy a delightful walking tour of Norfolk’s vibrant waterfront, an area with deep historical ties and marine traditions, which you will see reflected in the many landmarks.
After walking from the pier, you will soon arrive at Nauticus, a marine-themed science center and museum. The Wisconsin, one of the largest and last battleships that the U.S. Navy built, is berthed outside. Almost three football fields long, it’s an impressive sight, especially knowing its history of serving in World War II, the Korean War and the Persian Gulf War. This is an exterior visit only.
The Taiwanese Pagoda and Tea House stands nearby, overlooking Freemason Harbor. A gift from China in 1983, the two-story octagonal pagoda was manufactured in Taiwan, shipped in pieces to Norfolk and assembled by Taiwanese artisans. The surrounding Freemason residential neighborhood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, in part because its oldest homes are colonial and date to the 1790s.
Walking farther inland, you will find St. Paul’s Church, which was built in 1739 and is the only structure to survive Britain’s destruction of Norfolk in 1776. Another landmark is the Moses Myers House, one of the first residences built after the Revolutionary War. Finally, you will see the MacArthur Memorial, dedicated to Douglas MacArthur and a lasting tribute to the men and women who served with the general in both World Wars and the Korean War.
Afterwards, you may remain downtown and return to the ship at your leisure, or continue back to the pier with your guide.
Please note: This tour includes 2-hours of easy to moderate walking that includes some uneven and cobblestone surfaces to negotiate. The tour is not recommended for wheelchair guests or those with walking difficulties. Weather appropriate clothing; sun cap; sunglasses; a bottle of water from the ship; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended.
Explore colonial Williamsburg in depth, immersing yourself in early American history by touring many of the original 18th-century buildings.
Your tour begins with a leisurely drive to Williamsburg, traveling through the historic Virginia Peninsula and the Hampton roads area. En route, your professionally licensed guide provides an interesting and informative narration. Additionally, they will discuss the significance and history of Colonial Williamsburg and its restoration, as well as the historic triangle, including Jamestown and Yorktown. The restoration of this colonial capital was originally financed by the famous philanthropist J. D. Rockefeller, Jr. in 1926, and the research by archaeologists and historians continues today.
The restored capital of the British Colony of Virginia, colonial Williamsburg sprawls over 301 acres and includes more than 500 period buildings, many of them original 18th-century structures. Upon arrival, you will be treated to a short but informative film before embarking on your guided walking tour. During your walk, you'll receive an historic and cultural overview of the town and then tour some of the homes, public buildings and craft shops. The tradesmen, retailers and guides are all in costume, which lends the experience even greater authenticity.
One of the most impressive sights you will visit is the Governor's Palace, built in 1722 to house Virginia's royal governor. Located at the end of a broad greenscape, the imposing palace was intended to instill the colonists with respect for executive power. You will also see the Capitol, the colonial seat of government where laws and justice were made and administered.
Following your guided tour, you will have approximately two hours of free time to shop, dine and explore further on your own. Then, you will rejoin your coach and travel back to the pier in Norfolk where your tour concludes.
Please note: The guided walking portion of this tour includes approximately 1.5 hours of moderate walking, some of it over cobblestone surfaces. Additional walking is at the guests' discretion during free time. The tour is available to wheelchair guests who have a collapsible wheelchair, are able to make their own way on and off the coach and have an able-bodied companion to assist them. As there is a significant amount of walking, the tour may not be suitable for those with mobility concerns who are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Weather appropriate clothing; sun cap; sunglasses; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended.
Relive the history of two watershed periods in the founding of America: the establishment of Jamestown and the events leading to Battle of Yorktown.
Your day begins with a one-hour drive to the Jamestown settlement, the first permanent English settlement in America. During your two-hour guided tour conducted by costumed interpreters, you will delve into the lives of the settlers who arrived here in 1607. Step back in time as you see replicas of the sailing ships that brought them to the banks of the James River and tour a life-size re-creation of the colonists' wooden fort. You will also have the opportunity to explore the Powhatan way of life in a re-created Indian village based on archaeological findings and writings by English colonists.
Before leaving Jamestown, you will have some free time to browse the shops, before re-boarding your coach for the drive to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. Here, you will have a glimpse into the historic events that essentially ended the American Revolution. That time is chronicled through enlightening films, exhibits and outdoor living history. See how the war impacted the local residents through their records of the events. Visit a re-created Continental Army encampment and listen to historical interpreters describe life for the soldiers. Meander through a re-created 1780s farm, complete with a house, tobacco barn and crop fields.
En route back to the pier, you will drive through the quaint village of Yorktown.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 3.5 hours of moderate walking, some of it over cobblestone surfaces, plus any additional walking at the guests' discretion during free time. The tour is available to wheelchair guests who have a collapsible wheelchair, are able to make their own way on and off the coach and have an able-bodied companion to assist them. As there is a significant amount of walking, the tour may not be suitable for those with mobility concerns who are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Weather appropriate clothing; sun cap; sunglasses; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended.