Ticket Options

Online Tickets

Want to book a cruise with us?
Our narrated sightseeing tours are a great way to get out on the river and enjoy the scenery and wildlife of the salt marshes.Click below to see our public cruise schedule and book your tickets today!

Give a thoughtful and unique gift! 
An Essex River Cruise! Available in any amount, your gift card will be sent via email to the recipient.

Essex River Cruises & Charters FAQs


Frequently Asked Questions

We hope many of your questions are answered on this page. If there is still something you are wondering about, please don't hesitate to call or email us!

Is there a bathroom on board?

Both of our vessels are equipped with an on board marine restroom, known as a "head"! There is also a restroom available on shore at the marina. Note that the restroom on board is down a small set of stairs, whereas the on shore one is not.

Will I get seasick?

In over 25 years of plying the Essex River, we have never had anyone get seasick due to rough waters. The Essex River is a very sheltered area, with the well known Crane Beach acting as a great barrier from the occasional rough seas of the open ocean.

What should I do before/after the cruise?
Eat, Antique, or Explore!

Essex is well known for its restaurants and antique shops. The famous Woodman's of Essex, known to be the inventor of the fried clam, still operates year round along the causeway today, and is a must stop for any fried clam enthusiast. Anyone who takes a particular interest in antiques will find themselves right at home, as there are over 25 antique shops in Essex, all within one mile of one another. If you want some more time outdoors, take some time to explore some of the local nature trails. Outdoorsmen will find themselves right at home, as you meander out into parts of the estuary you may be seeing during your event with us.

Is the parking close by?

We have plenty of FREE parking on site for passengers at all times. It is all very close, and there is a drop off area if necessary.

Can I smoke on board?

Our vessels are non-smoking. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Can I bring my own beer/wine/alcohol with me?

It is against the law under our liquor license to allow BYOB. We apologize for any inconvenience, but we appreciate your understanding and cooperation!

Can I purchase Gift Cards?
What happens on the cruise?
Think of it simply as a tour!

Throughout the duration of our cruise, we will travel through the pristine and sheltered waters of the beautiful Essex River estuary. You will be exposed to the Great Marsh ecosystem, home to rare birds, wildlife, and stunning scenery. We commonly see locals lobstering, clamming, or fishing, sometimes catching a glimpse of their prized catch of the day. We will tell you all about any activity we see around us, and about large historic homes, the rich history of shipbuilding in Essex, and one of the oldest continually run farms in the United States. A great way for all ages to spend some time!

Can I book online?

We are proud to be able to offer online ticketing. Please click the link below to book now!

What is your cancellation policy?

Essex River Cruises strictly holds to a 24-hour cancellation policy for all public cruises, unless otherwise notified.

What happens if it rains?
It depends!

We try our best to run every cruise, rain or shine. We do not call trips off when rain is predicted days in advance of a cruse. We find that often times when the weather calls for some rain, it will end up resulting in a couple of very brief showers, which still make for a very pleasant cruising experience. We will evaluate the situation as much as we can, but we wait as long as possible to decide to cancel a trip. However, if the weather is so inclement that either your Captain, and/or the United States Coast Guard deem it unsafe to travel, all paying customers will have their money refunded, or will be allowed to transfer those tickets to another cruise. We know the idea of a rainy day on the river isn't all that appealing, but just know you'll have a great time, rain or shine!

What should I bring with me?
That depends!

This cruise can be enjoyed to its fullest by simply just bringing yourself with a great attitude! Some people choose to bring their cameras to capture their favorite moments of the cruise, or maybe some binoculars. Depending on the weather, you may decide you want sunglasses, sunblock, or an extra jacket. However, nothing is required.

How far in advance should we book our tickets?
Generally, anytime within two weeks.

Usually, we begin opening up cruises for reservations about 2 weeks prior to the cruise. Although many people have the fear that we will be full by the time they want to reserve, we generally don't reach max capacity until the day of the cruise, so even 2-3 days prior to the cruise should be plenty of extra time. However if you would like to secure your seats ASAP, we suggest periodically checking our online booking calendar until your cruise opens up.

What if I miss the boat?

Tickets for our public cruises are non-refundable and non-transferable inside of our 24-hour cancellation window. If you get lost, stuck in traffic, or otherwise can't make it for any reason, you will lose your tickets. We highly suggest saving yourself the worry, and arriving in town early. There are enough restaurants, antique shops, and other things to do that can keep you occupied in the time leading up to the cruise. Thank you for your understanding in this matter.

Do I need to make a reservation?
No, but...

Reservations are highly recommended for many reasons. Most importantly, we have your information such as phone number and email address, so we are able to contact with any updates or questions. Also, we do have a 15 person minimum in order to run our public cruises, which can only be met by people making reservations, so by reserving you really may help the cruise go out. That being said, we do not discourage walk ons! We gladly will take you on board as long as the cruise is running and has availability, but it may be beneficial for you to call us and make sure the trip is running first. We often see folks who come down to walk on to a cruise, and are discouraged to find that there is no trip going out. Don't let it be you!

Do you run every cruise every day?
we try!

We try our absolute best to run every cruise possible. That being said, we require at least 15 people with reservations to run a cruise. For several reasons, we do not always meet this quota, and therefore would not be running that particular cruise. We advise everyone with interest to check our website, call, or email us to check availability. Thank you for your understanding!

Will we get wet?
Probably not.

Generally, we travel through a VERY calm and safe area. The only external movement the boat will receive is passing boat wakes from other boaters. There are very few natural waves or swells in this area because of Crane Beach acting as a great barrier for our beautiful estuary. In some instances however, due to passing boat wakes, a very small amount of water may trickle down the deck of the boat. Your Captain or crew may suggest that all passengers lift any of their belongings off of the floor, but is not something that will disturb your experience. All this being said, we are at the mercy of Mother Nature and other local boaters, so anything is possible. Because of this, we are not responsible for any water damage to personal belongings.

Can I bring my own food or drinks on board?

We kindly ask that you refrain from bringing full size meals on board the vessel. We have snacks and drinks available in our ticket office, which you may purchase and bring on the boat. You may also decide to bring your own snacks or non-alcoholic beverages (but no coolers please). We do, however, invite you to enjoy your meal at our waiting area prior to the cruise.

Is it appropriate to leave gratuity?

Gratuities are appreciated if you feel that you had exceptional service during your time on board, but they are by no means mandatory.

Am I able to select my seat on board?

We do not give assigned seats when you purchase tickets. There are certainly enough seats for everyone on board, but you are not required to stay in them for the whole cruise. On the contrary, we encourage everyone to move around during the cruise to get different perspectives! Note that this means larger groups, especially on busier days, may not get to sit all together.

What is the difference between the daily Narrated Sightseeing Cruises, and the Coffee and Muffin cruises?
The coffee and muffins!

For the most part, these trips are very similar. The primary difference is the Coffee and Muffin cruise comes with complimentary coffee, muffins, water, soda, and juice on board. For just a few dollars more, the Coffee and Muffin cruises are held most Saturday and Sunday mornings at 10:30, returning to the dock at noon.

Is there storage available for my belongings?

There are stowaway compartments located under some of the seats. We do not have an area to check in any belongings, but we often find that space for personal items is not an issue on board our vessels.

Where do I pick up my tickets? What do I need?
Our office: 35 Dodge Street in Essex!

When you arrive for your cruise, please come into our yellow ticket office, and check in with the staff inside. You do not need to bring any sort of confirmation with you to check in; just tell us your name!

Are you handicap accessible?

Yes, we are able to accommodate wheelchairs, just not motorized ones. Please let us know if you will be attending a cruise with someone in your party who needs assistance, and we will be happy to help out!

Are your tours child friendly?
for some, not all

We always welcome children of all ages on our cruises. However, please keep in mind that our goal is to provide a quiet, relaxing, and informative tour for everyone. If you feel that an hour and a half (or 2) is too long for your child to handle, this may not be the trip for them. It is unfortunate to get stuck out on the water with an unhappy child. That being said, it's not uncommon for children to get off the boat having loved their time out on the water! So please, use your best discretion in this matter.

notes for parents of children 3 & under...
strollers, tickets, and life jackets...

STROLLERS: We have space available on board to store strollers for the duration of the cruise.

TICKETS: Please note that when booking a seat for a child 3 or under, although they are free, they still need a ticket as they are still part of our headcount by law of the Coast Guard. Please make sure to select a free ticket for them if booking online, or let us know over the phone.

LIFE JACKETS: Being out on the water, some parents naturally fear for their children and wonder, should they wear a life jacket? Our boats, and our cruises in general, are very safe. Our Captain and crew try very hard to provide a safe experience for everyone, so we ask that children DO NOT stand on the seats. Kneeling is fine. Parents often end up finding a strong sense of safety on our vessels, and realize they don't need a life jacket for their child. However, we are a Coast Guard inspected vessel, and are required to carry life jackets for all passengers. Although we have child sizes, these are not "fun" children's life jackets. They are rather firm and bulky, and really only for use in emergency when necessary, not to be worn all the time. We advise that if you feel your child needs to wear a life jacket for the duration of the cruise, you bring your own, but it MUST be a USCG approved PFD.

Can I bring my pet on board?

Only service animals are allowed on our public cruises. We apologize for any inconvenience.

What if I or someone in my party needs boarding assistance?
Let us know!

Please let us know when booking your trip if anyone needs extra boarding assistance or is in a wheelchair (no electric/mechanical wheelchairs please). Note that although our vessels are accessible at all times, boarding will be made easier if done around the high tide. It will also help to board any folks who need extra assistance last, as this allows for an easier step up to the boat. We will be there to help you!

Do you offer military discounts for public cruises?

Please call us to take advantage of our military discounts on Sightseeing Cruises!

Do you offer military discounts on private events?

We offer a military discount of 10% off the charter rate of the boat only. This excludes any food & beverage service, or any other applicable fees.

What happens if it rains?
It depends!

In the event of inclement weather, on the morning of your event we will discuss alternative options based on your type of event. Usually, with a light rain or passing shower, we are still able to go through with the event as planned. Both of our vessels are covered and offer both top and side protection from the elements. This usually still results in a pleasant cruising experience. However, if the weather is so inclement that either your Captain, and/or the United States Coast Guard deem it unsafe to travel, we will need to cancel or reschedule the event. Please speak with your event manager if you have any additional concerns.

Can I bring my own cake?

Feel free to bring your own cake for your event! Please note that we will have paper goods available if you have any catered food service. If you have not ordered any other food for your event, please bring plates, knives, napkins, etc. Thank you.

Can we arrive early to decorate the boat for our event?

We certainly welcome you to come and decorate the vessel for your charter. However, we ask that you begin a half an hour prior to your departure time, and that no more than 2 people from your group are on the vessel at a time until we board your party. This is because some of our crew may still be getting on and off the boat to prepare for your event. Lastly, please do not use scotch tape to attach things to our vessels. Masking tape or any fasteners such as string or zip ties work well. Thank you.

How far in advance are we required to book a private charter?

We will always do our best to accommodate even the most spur-of-the-moment charters. If we have the availability, we will do our best to make it work for you. Please note that certain things such as food and beverage options may be limited at this time. Never hesitate to call or email us and check availability!

May I choose to use my own outside caterer to provide food for my event?

Unfortunately, we do not allow any outside catering. Please let us know if you are unsatisfied with our listed options and we will be happy to work with you to find something that fits your taste.

What will Essex River Cruises provide for me?

We will bring a beach toy bag filled with assorted items such as a soccer ball, baseball, volleyball, frisbee, etc. We also provide tables, chairs, umbrellas, and catering set up (when applicable). Please keep in mind that the boat will remain accessible at the beach for the duration of the event, and there will be a restroom available. The boat is also shaded, so you may feel free to come sit on board whenever you like to get out of the potential hot sun. We also have bug spray available on board.

Where are we going?
A tidal beach sandbar!

We will be on board the vessel for typically 30-45 minutes each way to the beach. Once we arrive, the boat will anchor up to the shoreline where it will remain for the duration of the event. We have easy on and off access via either a few steps, or a small ramp. For the duration of our time on the sandbar, you may come on and off the boat as you please. We highly suggest keeping any valuables on the boat and not on the beach, and there is plenty of storage on board for personal items. Keep in mind, this is not a public beach! That means no public restrooms (except for the head on the boat, of course), snack bars, or lifeguards. For this reason, please be very cautious when swimming, and feel free to ask our crew if you feel it may be unsafe for any reason!

How should I come prepared?
For a day at the beach!

You will probably want to dress for a full day of activity. Bring plenty of sun protection, such as sunglasses, sunblock, and a hat, as we will be on a small oasis with likely no shade. We suggest swimsuits, beach towels, and maybe a change of clothes. We highly suggest sandals! It may be slightly wet stepping from the boat onto the beach. You may bring any non-alcoholic beverages and snacks you think you may need.

What happens if it rains?
We adapt!

In the event of rain or inclement weather, we will discuss some options on the morning of the event. Usually, with a light rain or passing shower, we are still able to go through with the event as planned. Depending on when during the event the rain occurs, it may require cruising for an extra couple of minutes, or packing up from the beach a little early. If it was a little more serious, we could alter the event to be a boat cruise followed by food onshore under our awning area, or for some groups, setting up the tables and eating right on the boat as we slowly meander along. However, if the weather is so inclement that either your Captain, and/or the United States Coast Guard deem it unsafe to travel, we will need to cancel or reschedule the event. Whatever the situation, please don't worry, as we will be here to help plan accordingly.