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EASTERN WATERWAYS Cruise boats spotlight some of the East’s most photogenic shorelines on sightseeing excursions and overnight journeys

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New York City’s SHARK speedboat

ouring by water provides a refreshing alternative from the “road routine,” as many group planners know. Seeing the sights on a harbor cruise, riverboat or traditionally rigged sailing vessel adds a heady dimension to any group itinerary. Waterborne trips not only give travelers a fresh perspective but in some cases provide access to areas that can’t be experienced any other way.

Essex Steam Train & Riverboat / Essex, Connecticut

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he only steam train and riverboat connection in the country spotlights the unspoiled Connecticut River Valley, designated “one of the last great places on earth” by the Nature Conservancy. The serenity of the valley, with its coves, inlets, marshes, wildlife and rocky shoreline, enchants passengers on the 220-passenger Becky Thatcher, a three-deck, Mississippi-style riverboat. Sights on the 1¼-hour cruise include Gillette Castle and the Goodpseed Opera House. The boat can be chartered for evening cruises. The 2½-hour rail-cruise journey begins at the historic station in Essex, Conn. with a ride in vintage coaches pulled by a steam locomotive. The train travels through the quintessential New England towns of Deep River and Chester and near the tidal wetlands of Pratt Cove and Chester Creek, natural habitats for birds. A highlight is the undeveloped Selden Neck State Park, accessible only by boat. (essexsteamtrain.com)

Yorktown Sailing Charters / Yorktown, Virginia

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roups can experience the days of Captain John Smith and the golden age of sail on tall ship cruises departing from Riverwalk Landing Pier in Yorktown, part of Virginia’s Historic Triangle. Yorktown Sailing Charters’ 49passenger Schooner Alliance offers two-hour cruises into Chesapeake Bay tidewaters, three times a day, from April to early November. Under a cloud of canvas, passengers on Historic Yorktown Cruises glide past Yorktown Battlefield, view the Victory Monument along the banks of the York River, sight dolphins and osprey, and sail by working watermen. They can even help raise the sails. Snacks and drinks are sold on board, and box lunches can be ordered. The 26-passenger Schooner Serenity, new this year, offers Pirate Cruises with crew in pirate costumes and cannon firings; kids get pirate tattoos. Also available are educational cruises that focus on the ecology of Chesapeake Bay. Both the Alliance and Serenity can be chartered for private cruises. In Yorktown visitors enjoy the seafood restaurants, 18th century homes, museums showcasing Revolutionary history, strolling the scenic Riverwalk and relaxing on the sandy beaches. Picturesque streets are the backdrop for art galleries and antique and specialty shops. Not far away are Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown Settlement. (sailyorktown.com) LeisureGroupTravel.com

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EASTERN WATERWAYS New York Water Taxi / New York City

St. Lawrence Cruise Lines / Canada’s St. Lawrence River

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everal cruise options give travelers a chance to view Manhattan’s famous skyline from the water. The “Statue of Liberty Express” departs from South Street Seaport and takes passengers on a narrated one-hour tour of the Big Apple. Highlighted by close-up views of Lady Liberty, the cruise showcases sights like the Brooklyn Bridge, Empire State Building and World Trade Center site. The “Statue by Night Cruise” spotlights New York under the stars and includes a champagne toast. The “Hop-On/Hop-Off” option lets passengers disembark as they please for visits to such sights as the Intrepid Air, Sea and Space Museum, 9/11 Memorial, Times Square and Statue of Liberty. Or they can just relax and enjoy the 90-minute loop. The tour picks up and drops off at West 44th Street (next to the Intrepid), Christopher Street, Battery Park, South Street Seaport and Fulton Ferry Landing. The New York Water Taxi/Circle Line Downtown fleet includes bright yellow, 149- and 64-passenger water taxis and the 600-passenger Zephyr luxury yacht. For the adventurous, there’s the SHARK speedboat’s 30-minute thrill ride. (nywatertaxi.com)

he 32-stateroom Canadian Empress, a replica steamship with brass handrails and ornate metal ceilings, operates overnight cruises that begin or end in Kingston, Ontario, where the St. Lawrence River begins at Lake Ontario. Groups have a choice of four itineraries that range from three to six nights. On the five-night “Canada’s Capital” route, the boat journeys from the St. Lawrence to the Ottawa River as far as Ottawa, or vice versa. The six-night “Canadian Connection” travels to or from Quebec City, while three-night “Heritage Waterway” sailings go to Montreal. A three-night roundtrip from Kingston spotlights the 1,000 Islands. Shore excursions (included in the cruise fare) visit such living history sites as Upper Canada Village and Fort Wellington, built during the War of 1812. A highlight is transiting the locks of the St. Lawrence International Seaway. (st.lawrencecruiselines.com)


Operating Season: April 15–November 1

Group Rates for Private Charters on Alliance: (up to 49 pax) and Serenity: (up to 26 pax)

Join the Alliance and step back into history and cruise down the shores of the York River on a traditional 3-masted schooner, past the battlefield where our country won its independence. For groups that love history, yearn for romance or enjoy a true sailing adventure,

“Your ship has just come in!” Box lunch or catering options available.

Contact Laura Lohse, Yorktown Sailing Charters 757-639-1233 • info@sailyorktown.com • www.sailyorktown.com


Cruise Sightseeing  

LeisureGroupTravel.com June 2012 51 Cruise boatsspotlight some of the East’s most photogenic shorelineson sightseeing excursionsand overnigh...

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