Discover what lies beneath Long Island Sound, or watch as the sun sets on the Sound, during fun and memorable public cruises now available aboard the unique research vessel of The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.
The Maritime Aquarium is opening its 2021 season of cruises this month with a slate of weekend outings. Choose between an exciting hands-on opportunity to meet marine creatures that live below the surface or a relaxing tour where islands, lighthouses and the evening sky are the stars.
Marine Life Encounter Cruises
Meet an amazing variety of fish, crabs, mollusks and other creatures brought up right out of Long Island Sound right before your eyes during these memorable outings. The spring outings depart on Saturdays and Sundays at 1:15 p.m. now through June 20. They’ll then go out at 1:15 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays from June 23 to Sept. 6.
These 2.5-hour cruises reveal what is, to many, a surprising diversity of marine life just off our shores in Long Island Sound. Aquarium educators put participants to work in collecting and examining animals from all levels of the water column: tiny wriggly plankton gathered at the surface (and viewed on a large monitor via a videomicroscope); little crabs and worms grabbed from the muddy bottom; and a variety of fish, crabs, mollusks and always a few surprises brought up in a trawl net – sometimes even small sharks!
“Marine Life Encounter Cruises are a great, hands-on family adventure that goes beyond the experience inside the Aquarium,” said Aquarium spokesman Dave Sigworth. “Plus, participants contribute to local scientific research. Water-chemistry and weather readings are taken. And details about the animals brought onboard are entered into the Aquarium’s Long Island Sound Biodiversity Project, an important database on the physical and biological features of the Sound.”
Saturday Sunset Cruises
If unwinding is more your goal – as opposed to reeling in – The Maritime Aquarium also is beginning its new season of evening cruises. During Saturday Sunset Cruises, Aquarium educators will be onboard to point out sights on the Sound, but the 90-minute outings are mostly intended to just be relaxing boat rides timed to catch the setting sun reflecting on the water.
Food and drink may be brought aboard in a small bag or soft-sided cooler, and must be consumed on the outdoor decks. Glass bottles are prohibited.
Departure times for the Saturday Sunset Cruises will shift as the time for sunset changes. Initial cruises are at 6:30 p.m. May 8 & 15, and then times move to 7 p.m. May 22-July 31. (Departures in August revert to 6:30 p.m.) Get back in time to enjoy a late dinner or an evening out with friends just steps away in the restaurants and nightspots of SoNo.
Similar relaxed evening cruises will be added in June for the summer: Norwalk Islands Cruises at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays, and TGIF Cruises at 6:30 p.m. Fridays. They’re also 90 minutes long.
All cruises occur aboard R/V Spirit of the Sound™, a 64-foot catamaran that is the country’s first research vessel with quiet hybrid-electric propulsion. Cruises depart from the dock at North Water and Washington streets, a short walk from the Aquarium’s main entrance. (Use 4 North Water St. on your GPS for the boat dock parking lot.)
Participants must be at least 42 inches tall. Guests under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult. The boat has a climate-controlled cabin but participants should dress for weather out on deck. Under COVID protocols, masks must be worn by all onboard.
Capacity is limited so advance reservations are strongly recommended. Get prices and more details, and reserve your tickets, at www.maritimeaquarium.org.