Located at the northern tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown -- or simply P-town to locals -- is a well-established tourist haunt that has long been a haven for artists and writers, as well as the LBGT community.
The Pilgrims arrived there by ship in 1620. Portuguese whalers and fishermen came on the scene in the mid-1800s. At one point in the 1800s, the bustling port had 80 piers. By the 1970s, whaling had given way to whale-watching as the tourist industry took hold. Today, just three piers remain.
Cruise vessels dock at the quarter-mile-long MacMillan Pier, where artisans sell their goods from small stands. A town crier in full Pilgrim regalia greets visitors near the end of pier, calling, "Hear ye, hear ye. All is well in Provincetown because you are here!"
Its busy, boisterous and aptly named Commercial Street hosts a mix of scruffy and quaint -- T-shirt shops, taffy and fudge joints, high-end galleries and clubs featuring drag shows coexist here. Just outside of town, the Cape Cod National Seashore beckons with 40 pristine miles of habitats ranging from marshes to uplands to cranberry bogs. You can explore via biking and walking trails, or just hit one of its swimming beaches.
--By Jayne Clark, Cruise Critic contributor