It used to be that cruise-goers had to first fly to Miami, San Juan, or Los Angeles just to catch the ship. These days, cruise lines are launching from more and more ports across the country—Norfolk, Tampa, and Charleston, South Carolina, among them—making a sea voyage only a car ride away (and last-minute deals more accessible than ever). Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas, for example, which has a surfing-inspired computer room for kids, sets sail from San Diego as well as Seattle, and the company's Rhapsody of the Seas and Splendour of the Seas leave from Galveston, Texas, stopping in New Orleans and Key West (for information, go to Other new drive-and-sail options: Carnival Cruise Line's Celebration and Jubilee depart from Galveston, bound for Calica and Cozumel in Mexico ( The big outfits aren't the only ones upping the convenience factor. Launching from Palm Beach, the new SeaDream I (, with only 55 staterooms, has found its niche by allowing passengers to tweak the schedule. Want to snorkel in a remote spot?Just ask—a staff of 89, along with a 24-hour pantry stocked with cookies, milk, and sandwich fixings, is on standby. —Hillary Geronemus