Public Cruises: here are some answers to common questions
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our vessels are non-smoking. We apologize for any inconvenience.
It is against the law under our liquor license to allow BYOB. We apologize for any inconvenience, but we appreciate your understanding and cooperation!
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!
We are proud to be able to offer online ticketing. Please click the link below to book now!
Essex River Cruises strictly holds to a 24-hour cancellation policy for all public cruises, unless otherwise notified.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
Gratuities are appreciated if you feel that you had exceptional service during your time on board, but they are by no means mandatory.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
Only service animals are allowed on our public cruises. We apologize for any inconvenience.
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!
Please call us to take advantage of our military discounts on Sightseeing Cruises!