Enjoy a romantic North Carolina dinner cruise on one of the many majestic waterways of this fantastic state, from ocean to river to lake. With the moonlight, fine cuisine, and magical settings, it will be an evening made of memories.
The Belle of Topsail, Topsail Island
If you want to cruise the sunset in style, then the Belle of Topsail is not to be missed. This ship is in the style of a 19th-century paddleboat. Enjoy a sunset cruise along the North Carolina Intracoastal Waterway and the waters around Topsail Island by the state's eastern coast, about 2 hours from Fayetteville.
The Sunset Dinner Cruise is $35 for adults and offers an informal buffet, including seafood, fajitas, desserts, and drinks. There is also a Moonlight Cruise (21 years and over) for $15, without dinner and with a paid bar. You must arrive at least 30 minutes before the cruise begins.
Contact the company directly for upcoming schedules.
Bayonet Enterprises Cruises, East Coast
Board an intimate, luxury yacht for a romantic cruise along the New River, and view the quiet beauty of the region. Owned by a retired military couple, Bayonet offers guests the chance to experience the luxury of a private yacht without breaking the bank.
The 3-hour cruise includes beverages, hors d'oeuvres, dinner, dessert and anchorage time. At $275 for a couple ($60 for additional persons), it's a very special getaway evening. Bayonet also offers overnight getaways for $575 per couple.
Bayonet Enterprises is located in Jacksonville and can be reached at 910 554-8672. Book cruises directly on their website.
Queens Landing Dinner Cruises, Lake Norman
Lake Norman is conveniently situated only 30 minutes north of Charlotte and is the largest man-made lake in the Carolinas. It is 34 miles long with more than 500 miles of shoreline. Queens Landing Sightseeing & Dinner Cruises is located in Mooresville and offers you two ships to choose from for your dinner cruise: one elegant and one a bit more casual.
The Lady of the Lake
The Lady of the Lake is a 95-foot luxury yacht that offers an elegant, romantic dinner cruise that lasts more than two hours.
Passengers will experience full-service bars, fine dining and enclosed salons on the upper and lower levels, along with exquisite views of the lake and outstanding service. Cruises are offered year-round and dinners have included salmon, surf and turf, salads, side dishes and outstanding desserts. Menus change regularly.
Cruise schedules vary by season, although dinner cruises are generally offered Fridays with a boarding time of 6:30 p.m., plus Saturdays and Sundays with boarding times of 5:00 p.m. It is strongly suggested that you call for reservations and times.
Prices for the dinner cruises range from $87 for adults and $81 for seniors, tax and gratuities included. For an additional $225, you get the VIP treatment, which includes separate, private seating, a bottle of Dom Pérignon, special service, and more. You can also order chocolate covered strawberries for dessert at an additional cost.
The Catawba Queen
The Catawba Queen offers the nostalgic treat of dinner on a Mississippi riverboat. Although popular with families, this cruise also provides a step back in time to a more romantic era.
Dinners are buffet style, from salads to desserts, and the cost is around $76 for adults and $69 for seniors, taxes and gratuities included. You share tables with other diners. Boarding times are 6 p.m. Fridays, and 5:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Like the Lady of the Lake, $225 VIP dinners are also available aboard the Catawba Queen. This includes private seating, a bottle of Dom Pérignon, and special service, as well as the option for chocolate covered strawberries for dessert (six for $22 or 12 for $40).
Lake Hickory, Central
Lake Hickory Adventures offered the first (and only) dinner, party and private charter boat cruises on Lake Hickory in Hickory, NC in the central state region. The yachts have restrooms, outdoor and indoor seating, and even fireside dining in cooler weather. Live entertainment is aboard, and menus include steak, seafood, Italian, and other specialties, varying by date.
Tickets are $59, not including tax and gratuities, with discounts for clergy, seniors, and other groups. Romantic evenings include Valentine's Day, with dinner for two for around $70 each, plus holiday caroling tours. Note that the ship does not sell or provide wine or liquor, but passengers 21+ may bring their own drinks.
Dinner cruises depart at 6:30 p.m. and board at 6707 Limbaugh Lane in Hickory. Call 828-358-2384 to inquire.
Crystal Coast Lady Cruises, Northeast
North Carolina's Crystal Coast offers stunning seascapes, sunsets, and romance. Lookout Cruises cordially invites you for a splendid two-hour sunset cruise that provides a gourmet buffet along with breathtaking views of water and sky.
Cruises are offered nightly in season from 7 - 9 p.m. and Sundays from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $38 plus tax and gratuities, and there are discounts for military and seniors. Diners share tables. This ship also offers specialty cruises to see the wild horses and dolphins.
For more information, contact Lookout Cruises in Beaufort by calling 252-504-SAIL.
Dinner Cruise Considerations
Nothing is more fun than a romantic cruise, and nothing is worse than unforeseen problems. Don't forget the following.
- Always check on cancellation policies before you book tickets. Can you get a refund? Or will you have to dine ashore or accept a later cruise in the event of a problem?
- Boarding times and sailing times are different, sometimes up to one hour earlier. Ask before you go.
- Three or more may not be all the company you want on a romantic cruise. Most dinner cruises require that you share tables, so ask about upgrades or private seating. That will cost more, but may be worth it.
- Not all facilities are created equal. If restrooms or stairs are a concern, ask about them ahead of time.
- Ask about dress codes or suggestions for each cruise.
- If you get seasick on the open ocean, you may be perfectly fine on a river. But once you set sail, there's no turning back.
- Schedules change by day and season and cruises can take several hours. Cruises can also book up early for popular times (like summer weekends). Call at least two weeks in advance, more if you are looking at holiday dates for your romantic cruise.
A Quintessential North Carolina Experience
Whether you decide to sail on a lake or drift quietly on a river, a romantic North Carolina cruise can be an unforgettable night with memories to last a lifetime. Plan your vacation around a voyage, any time of the year, and the lure of the sea will call you back time and again.