When we spent a weekend in Charleston, South Carolina earlier this month, we enjoyed trying out a several dining and drinking establishments in this city known for its historic charm and hospitality.

View of Waterfront Park from Fleet Landing Restaurant, Charleston, South Carolina

View of Waterfront Park from Fleet Landing Restaurant, Charleston, South Carolina

On Sunday afternoon, we headed downtown Charleston, the oldest part of the historic city.  Our first stop was to walk along the waterfront, which led us to the Fleet Landing Restaurant and Bar. The restaurant was not serving at 4 pm in the afternoon, but the indoor/outdoor bar was open.

The Carnival Ecstasy cruise ship about to depart Charleston, South CarolinaThe outdoor bar at Fleet Landing is the perfect spot to watch a cruise ship departure, while enjoying a glass of wine or a local beer. As we heard the lifeboat drill, we were jealous, just for a minute, of those on board about to set sail.

We finished our drinks, and set out to explore East Bay Street, which is filled with restaurants and bars. Yelp reviews encouraged us to check out the relatively new Pawpaw restaurant, with its modern, Southern-inspired menu.

Pawpaw, Charleston, South CarolinaSince it was too early for us to enjoy dinner, we tried a couple of appetizers in the bar area at Pawpaw.

Hush puppies, ahi tuna bites, and a cocktail at Pawpaw, Charleston, South CarolinaThe “fluffy hush puppies” made with bacon and scallions (and served a trio of dipping sauces) were a big hit.  We also enjoyed the unusual ahi tuna tartare bites, where the tuna mixture was served on tiny cakes said to be made of golden rice. These were a slightly spicy bite of interesting flavors – we could have eaten a dozen.

As for the cocktails, Mr. Jones’ martini-like drink was a little too herbal for his taste. While I was disappointed to find that wines by the glass were mostly limited to North Carolina “tap” or cask wines, I enjoyed a glass of sparkling rose that paired well with the appetizers. If you are willing to order a bottle, the menu does offer a diverse selection of wines.

No longer hungry, we decided to walk round the historic section of Charleston before sunset. As we walked, we explored Church Street, poking into various alleys and side streets as we made our way from south of Broad Street to Water Street, before looping back to East Bay Street.

ivy-covered stairs, Charleston, South CarolinaDuring our walk, we admired the architectural details of the historic houses and churches, and appreciated the signs detailing the history of some of the locations.

Post-walk, we stopped in the Gin Joint just off of East Bay Street. This bar offers a “bartenders choice” cocktail where you pick two words from a list of 16 descriptive words, and the bartender makes a drink designed to meet your taste preferences. Mr. Jones found his gin-based martini a little too “vegetal” for his tastes. “Vegetal” is one of the word choices, but was not one of his choices.

When I learned that the Gin Joint was out of my favorite Monkey 47 gin, I decided to stick with a glass of wine. I enjoyed the out-of-the ordinary Pad Thai popcorn appetizer that includes fish sauce, lime, chili and peanuts.

High Cotton bar, Charleston, South CarolinaAfter more wandering around the neighborhood, we decided to make our final stop at High Cotton – a high-end bar that’s part of a fine-dining restaurant owned by the Hall Family. Since it was our final stop of the night, I decided to try a cocktail. When in Charleston, why not The Charleston Cocktail?

Although the bartender said it was not overly “sweet,” I found it too sweet (and to easy too swill like it was a sweet tea) as a live music trio played in the background.

Argentinian Malbec. High Cotton Bar, Charleston, South CarolinaI switched to a glass of Argentinian Malbec, while Mr. Jones enjoyed a perfectly crafted martini with no hint of vegetables. We wanted a substantial appetizer, and the High Cotton meat and cheese board filled our request. It contained healthy portions of country pâté, liver mousse, salami, prosciutto, brie, smoked cheddar, and the southern staple — pimiento cheese — along with toasted bread and crackers.

If I was dining at High Cotton, the buttermilk fried oysters over arugula with green goddess dressing on the current menu would be on my “must try” list.

Check out these Charleston food, dining and drinking reference books:

The S.N.O.B. Experience: Slightly North Of Broad a cookbook by Frank Lee, Chef Emeritus, Cuisine Commando of the S.N.O.B. kitchen, another East Bay Street institution owned by the Hall Family.

Charleston Receipts is the oldest Junior League cookbook still in print. First published in 1950, this cookbook contains 750 recipes, Gullah verses, and sketches by Charleston artists.

Special Recipes from the Charleston Cake Lady Who can resist a southern cake?

Have you visited Charleston, South Carolina?

What was your favorite food or beverage?

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The Norwegian Pearl cruise ship, Norwegian Cruise LineNorwegian Cruise Line recently announced a “nominal” adjustment to its daily service charges, beginning April 1, 2017.  Raising its “discretionary daily service charges,” as the cruise line calls its auto gratuities, seems to be common annual occurrence, as we reported a similar increase in February, 2015 that took effect on March 1, 2015.  Then there was another increase in 2016 for the cruise line.

Details of the April 1, 2017 Increase to Daily Service Charges on Norwegian Cruise Line

Here are the specifics for the new daily service charge rates.

For all ships except for the Norwegian Sky the new daily service charge rate (in US dollars) is:
• $13.99 per person per day for any category up to a Mini-Suite Stateroom.  (This is increased from the current rate of $13.50, for an additional $0.49 per person per day.)
• $16.99 per person per day for any suite or Haven category. (This is increased from the current rate of $15.50, for an additional $1.49 per person per day.)

The Norwegian Sky cruise ship features an

The Norwegian Sky cruise ship features an “open bar” concept for its 3 and 4 day sailings out of Miami.

For the all-inclusive product aboard Norwegian Sky (this “all-inclusive” label really means that the ship operates an open bar concept with many beverages such as soda and juice, and beer, wine and cocktails are included in the ticket price) the new daily service charge rates are increased substantially:
• $18.99 per person per day for any category up to a Mini-Suite Stateroom. (This is increased from the current rate of $13.50, for an additional $5.49 per person per day.)
• $21.99 per person per day for any suite category. (This is increased from the current rate of $15.50, for an additional $6.49 per person per day.)

There are two ways to avoid the increase if you act by March 31, 2017

1. If you plan to sail on Norwegian Cruise Line, make your booking by March 31, 2017, and then pre-pay your service charges at the current rate anytime up until one week before your cruise departure. (This is especially valuable if you are booking a sailing on the Norwegian Sky.)

WHY? For bookings made prior to April 1st, 2017, regardless of the date of your cruise prepaid service charges will be charged the CURRENT price of:
• $15.50 USD per person per day The Haven and Suites; $13.50 USD per person per day for Mini-Suites and below – FOR ALL SHIPS

2. If you are already booked for sailings on or after April 1, 2017, and you booked on or before March 31, 2017, then pre-pay your service charges at least one week prior to sailing to get the current service charge rates.

WHY? If you wait to pay service charges once on board your sailing, you will be charged the new, higher rates.

Important Notes About Service Charges on Norwegian Cruise Line

  • Guests sailing to Hawaii are charged an additional 4.275 percent GET Tax on their Pre Paid Service Charges.
  • Service charges apply to all guests 3 years or older.
  • You can pre-pay service charges through your travel professional, even if you already made your final payment.
  • If your existing cruise reservation included pre-paid service charges as a booking perk, you are not impacted for the first two guests in a cabin or suite. Third and fourth guests should be pre-paid, or else they will be charged the higher daily rate during your sailing.

Have you sailed on Norwegian Cruise Line? How was your experience?

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7 Things to See or Do at Santa Cruz de La Palma

March 16, 2017

We have four friends visiting Spain’s Canary Islands, as well as many other wonderful destinations via the 56-Day Grand Mediterranean Cruise on the ms Prinsendam. We wish we could join them as the Canaries – the seven islands off of the coast of West Africa – are still on our bucket list. When we do visit, these are 7 things […]

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40 Interesting Facts About Charleston, South Carolina

March 10, 2017

1. The city of Charleston, South Carolina is located on the Atlantic Coast of the United States, roughly halfway between Washington D.C. and Miami, Florida. 2. Spread over 128 square miles, the heart of city is located on Charleston Harbor, an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean formed by the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper […]

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