A neighbor, just back from a cruise to Hawaii, was telling me about all of the pampering he got on the cruise liner. Well, I’ve never been on a cruise, or have I ever been pampered a whole hell of a lot, but I’ve been on a few boats that were memorable. My absolute favorite boat ride is the LaGuardia Airport to Manhattan water shuttle. It leaves from the Delta (the old Eastern) terminal at LGA and travels along the East River with stops in midtown and downtown, near Wall Street. The trip is much faster than a land taxi and the views of Manhattan are beyond description. Oh yeah, and the beer is on ice.
Running a close second are my true nautical passion, ferries. Ferries are boats, aren’t they? Sure they are, you say, but no one brags about riding a ferry. Well I do, and I’ve been on a number of memorable ferries. Take the ferry that crosses the Strait of Gibraltar from Málaga, Spain to Tangier, Morocco. It’s especially memorable because it goes from somewhat-familiar Europe to mysterious North Africa, and the world of camels, casbahs, and veiled women. Another ferry that sticks with me is the one from Venice to the picturesque island of Burano and the famous glass blowing island, Murano. These Italian interisland ferries rival the obligatory gondola rides for really fun things to do in Venice. And, I remember vividly having Dover sole in the elegant dining room on the cross channel ferry from Dover in the South of England to Calais, France.
Even more ferries have stuck with me over the years, like the Long Island to Connecticut ferry. It leaves the picturesque seaport of Port Jefferson on Long Island and heads straight north across Long Island Sound to Bridgeport, Connecticut. A few other charming East Coast ferries are the Cape May, New Jersey to Lewes, Delaware ferry across the mouth of the Delaware River, and the people-watching ferry from Falmouth, Massachusetts to Martha’s Vineyard, and I’ll never forget the Boston to Provincetown Ferry across Cape Cod Bay.
The West Coast has a few ferries, but my two favorites are the Port Townsend, Washington to Orcas Island in Washington’s San Juan Islands ferry and the Newport Beach, California to Avalon on Santa Catalina Island ferry.
Do booze cruises count? If not they should. Linda and I have been on a number of booze cruises, and they are always the highlights of our trips. We’ve cruised between the islands of Maui and Lanai balancing our mai tais among a sea of frolicking humpback whales. Frolic may be the wrong word; these humpbacks travel 3,000 miles to come back to the ʻAlenuihāhā Channel to breed. They come back there to hump. Do you suppose that’s how they got their name, humpback? Makes sense to me.
We’ve been serenaded around Acapulco bay with obligatory margaritas, cruised around San Francisco Bay oohing and aahing as the city lights sparkle though properly proportioned martinis and we’ve spilled our tropical drinks as we sailed to uninhabited islands in the Bahamas and off the island of Puerto Rico. I seem to remember the Bahama Mamas and the piña coladas more vividly than the islands. I wonder why that is?
Don’t think that you have to travel to exotic places to take booze cruises; we’ve got some good ones right here at home. We’ve guzzled hurricanes on a Mississippi River paddle wheeler, tasted Oregon wines on a trip up the Willamette River, and sipped fine Washington wines on a Lake Coeur d’Alene dinner cruise.
I know I know fishing boats don’t count but I used to be a saltwater angler. I’ve chartered or signed on to fishing boats out of the ports of: Los Angles, Long Beach, San Diego, Acapulco, Nassau, Puerto Peñasco, Salem and Boston Massachusetts and Ocean City, New Jersey of all places. Let me tell you about the eight and half foot…
Okay okay…that’s a story for another day.
I’ll admit water taxis, ferries, booze cruises, and fishing boats aren’t in the same class as cruise liners. But what the hell, they’re fun and they go to interesting places.
Now if we can just get a bit more water flowing in the Rio Grande.