By Joanne Colella
With the approach of summer, and the Jersey shore just a stone’s throw away, it’s only natural to feel drawn to the water’s edge for a fun afternoon or a relaxing evening. Some may even yearn to take it a step further, and enjoy life not merely strolling along the waterfront, but cruising on the water itself. For those who seek the perfect way to combine sightseeing, dining, dancing, and the joys of cruising all within a few hours’ time, your ship has come in, with a fleet of marvelous sightseeing, lunch, and dinner cruises throughout the area just waiting for passengers to climb onboard. These aren’t the basic three-hour tours of Gilligan’s day, as boat operators now offer everything from rollicking party cruises with appetizer buffets and full-service bars to fine dining on elegant yachts to special holiday or themed sailings. There are daytime cruises serving brunch or lunch, Fourth of July sailings to view fireworks displays over the water, autumn cruises to admire the colorful glory of fall foliage, and romantic nighttime cruises to take in the moonlit Manhattan skyline. Looking for an original setting for a fundraiser, Sweet 16, graduation party, family reunion, or birthday or anniversary celebration? You and your guests can surround yourselves with the open sea while enjoying the festivities. And you can set sail year-round, as many vessels offer enclosed, climate-controlled accommodations so as to enjoy every season, and brave any element of weather.
SeaStreak Cruises is a commuter’s dream, with fast passenger ferry service from Atlantic Highlands and Highlands. SeaStreak also offers many special events throughout the year, such as traffic-free trips to NY Yankees and NY Mets baseball games, sightseeing cruises along Sandy Hook Bay and Lower Manhattan Harbor, Saturday night sunset cruises, July 4th celebrations, Sandy Hook beach excursions for New York visitors, Wednesday matinee cruises with Broadway show ticket packages, Hudson River fall foliage cruises, West Point football trips, and sailings to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. For the ideal summer weekend getaway without the stress of traffic, there are even trips directly from Belford to Martha’s Vineyard. To set sail on SeaStreak, visit their website at www.seastreak.com or call 1-800-BOATRIDE.
For a trip back in time, look for the River Lady in Toms River, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Boasting the ambiance of a 19th -century Mississippi paddleboat, this 150-passenger, 85-foot authentic reproduction – the only true stern-wheeler in the state – features a Victorian-style interior design on the lower deck, which is completely enclosed and climate-controlled for comfort. Etched glass doors, mahogany woodwork, brass wall sconces, and rich draperies lend lovely detail to the spacious dance floor. From May through September, the River Lady features some of the most beautiful sights in the area on the Toms River and Barnegat Bay, along with historical commentary by the captain, for its lunch and dinner cruises. To get acquainted with the River Lady, visit www.riverlady.com or call (732) 349-8664.
Cornucopia Cruise Line, with ports in Perth Amboy and Hoboken, travels year-round and boasts a fleet of three impressive ships, featuring brunch, lunch, dinner, and holiday cruises. The ships also host a wide variety of special occasions and corporate events to fit every size group, budget, and taste. With great cuisine and beautiful décor, each vessel offers guests the chance blend sea legs with dancing shoes, partying to the sounds of their talented DJs on the dance floor. Tour the ships and find out more at www.cornucopiacruise.com or call (732) 697-9500.
To see the lights of the big city reflecting off the waves, check out Entertainment Cruises. Operating 23 vessels serving seven cities (New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Norfolk, and Washington, DC), the fleet provides everything from fun and festive dining cruises to elite private yacht charters to gourmet dining cruises that are fashioned after the glass-enclosed riverboats of Paris – all with an eye toward creating superior dining and entertainment experiences with fine cuisine, topnotch wines, live music, and breathtaking views. Each brand of ship has a character all its own; try them all as the seasons unfold! For details, go to www.entertainmentcruises.com or call (800) 700-0735.
Bon voyage, and smooth sailing!