There's no better way to bond with your clan on the open water than taking a Chesapeake Bay family cruise. The popular waterway is the ideal setting for fishing, crabbing, and sightseeing. Whether you are cruising the bay on a lighthouse tour or a sunset sail, the family-friendly adventure is one you won't soon forget.
Sailing the Chesapeake Bay
Not many people realize that the Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States. While the bay itself stretches roughly 200 miles long, its basin covers nearly 65,000 square miles thanks to the 150 rivers that flow into it. Chesapeake Bay is surrounded by Maryland and Virginia, and is famous for its striped bass, blue crabs, clams and oysters.
The Chesapeake Bay is a huge draw for tourists visiting Maryland and Virginia. Each year tens of thousands of visitors flock to the shores of the bay to board vessels that tour the open waters. To facilitate recreational boating and provide access to additional docks and marinas, the bay is spanned in two places by the picturesque Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel in Virginia.
Chesapeake Bay Family Cruise Options
If you are planning a trip to the Chesapeake Bay area you might consider taking to the water during your stay. Maryland and Virginia feature a number of reputable cruise companies which offer seasonal sailings from May through October, including:
Down Time Charters
Down Time Charters caters to families and other large groups that are interested in exploring the legendary Chesapeake Bay. In addition to standard full and half-day sightseeing sailings on the Chesapeake, the cruise company offers an extremely popular sunset lighthouse tour. These educational voyages sail to the most beautiful and historic lighthouses in the Chesapeake Mid-Bay region, such as:
- Sandy Point Light
- Thomas Point Light
- Bloody Point Light
- Baltimore Light
The leisurely cruises take between four and six hours depending on weather and wave conditions. What's more, all of the sailings offered by the company can be tailored to meet your family's needs. For example, if you book a private tour of the bay, you may choose your departure time, length of trip and points of interest.
Tangier Island Cruises
Tangier Island Cruises offers daily sunset voyages to Tangier Island from Crisfield, Maryland. You'll ride on board a luxurious 90-foot vessel which can accommodate up to 300 passengers. The boat features a spacious upper sun deck, an air conditioned lounge, snack bar, and restrooms.
The evening sail allows you to take in the sunset over famous Chesapeake Bay while journeying to family-friendly Tangier Island. The 12-mile trip includes unprecedented views of the chain of islands that form the Tangier Sound. In addition, you will be able to photograph eagles and various waterfowl that inhabit the bay.
Tickets for the sunset cruise also include admission to Hilda Crockette's Chesapeake House where you will enjoy an unlimited family-style meal, which includes:
- Chesapeake Bay crab cakes
- Clam fritters
- Virginia baked ham
- Green beans
- Potato salad
- Hot corn pudding
- Homemade rolls
After dinner you will be given time to stroll around the island before boarding the boat back to Crisfield.
Chesapeake Bay Cruise Tips
If your kids are picky eaters, then you might appreciate taking cruises that allow you to bring along your own snacks and drinks. In addition, if you are traveling with a large family, you are better off purchasing tickets in advance, as summer cruises tend to sell out quickly. Buying tickets in advance will also allow you to select the day and time you prefer.