One of the advantages of living next to two Great Lakes and a natural wonder of the world are the numerous ways to get on the water. So with no time to waste, let’s talk about all the great boat rides available in Western New York.
Maid of the Mist
maidofthemist.com | (716) 284-8897
Any list highlighting incredible boat rides around WNY must begin with the Maid of the Mist. Since its modest beginning in 1846 as a transportation vessel, the Maid has been bringing people across the Niagara River, and as close to Niagara Falls as anyone can get. From world leaders to movie stars, everyone seems to have taken a ride alongside nature’s rage. Aaron Besecker of the Buffalo News recently reported that two 600 passenger boats are expected to take a combined 44 trips a day this year. You don’t have to do the math. Just get out to The Falls and get soaked. As Captain Rich always says, “It’s like a limo ride from Limo Find, only on an antique boat!”
After Memorial Day weekend, the Maid of the Mist runs daily from morning until early evening. Tickets cost $17 for adults and $9.90 for children. There are no age restrictions and they do not take reservations.
Buffalo Harbor Cruises
buffaloharborcruises.com | (716) 856-6696
Another giant in the WNY boating industry, Buffalo Harbor Cruises began their foray into Lake Erie in 1971. Since then, the Miss Buffalo and Miss Buffalo II have been familiar sights beside Buffalo’s Inner and Outer Harbor. Available for sightseeing, corporate events, and all types of parties, Buffalo Harbor Cruises has everything and anything to get you out on the water. Bring the kids on a Historic Landmark Cruise, or get away for an evening on their T.G.I.F. Happy Hour Cruise with your friends. Sit in the sun, have a few drinks, and enjoy the ride.
Cruises start at $16-$25 for adults, $11-$12 for the kids. The Miss Buffalo II begins its run in July and ends in September. Reservations are a necessity, and no outside food or drink is allowed. Buffalo Harbor Cruises has a full banquet and drink menu available on their website.
wnyclassiccruises.com | (716) 946-7246
Sometimes the problem with hitching a ride on someone else’s boat is that they only take you where they want to go. If you’re looking to navigate the waters yourself, then look no further than Classic Cruises departing from Rich Marine near Squaw Island. For a nominal fee, Captain Rich will take you and 5 of your closest friends wherever you want to go. Hop aboard the classic “Summer Love” and kick back while you enjoy your very own customized cruise. This is the perfect ride to plan something special.
Classic Cruises runs day or night, from Memorial Day through October depending on the weather. Cruises run $50 per hour, or just over $8 per person. Bringing your own food and drink along is allowed and encouraged. As Captain Rich always says, “It’s like a limo ride, only on an antique boat!”
Grand Lady Cruises
grandlady.com | (716) 873-4630
Let hometown captain Rick Deegan and company take you on the cruise of your life this summer. Stretch out anywhere on the Grand Lady’s two main decks, or head inside to the Captain’s Club Bar for a cool drink. In addition to daily lunch and dinner cruises, the Grand Lady offers everything from Murder Mysteries to Wine Tasting. Take Dad on a cruise for Father’s Day, or see some fireworks on the Fourth. With so many choices, it’s impossible to lose.
Non-meal cruises start as low as $18 per person, while specialty cruises can run as high as $80 per person. Check their website for a full list of prices and details. The Grand Lady is also available for weddings and special events. Cruises begin May 20th and are offered until the end of October.
Historic Buffalo River Tours/Industrial Heritage Committee
buffaloindustrialheritage.com | (716) 856-6696
Running in connection with Buffalo Harbor Cruises, the Industrial Heritage Committee’s Historic Buffalo River tours enter into their 29th year this summer. By integrating an interactive experience using maps, photographs, and video, this trip promises to tickle your inner historian. Learn about Buffalo’s past while imagining the reuse possibilities for our aging landmarks on the waterfront. With an expanded schedule this year, there should be no reason to miss out on this engaging experience.
Historic tours begin in July and run until September. These tours are very popular and sell out fast, so call now. Ticket prices are $18 for adults, $12 for children, and kids 3 and under ride free.
Lockport Locks and Erie Canal Cruises
lockportlocks.com | (716) 433-6155
Growing from two small pontoons in the 90s, to three large cruise boats today, Erie Canal Cruises is without question the most relaxing cruise in WNY. Glide down the canal under bridges while skirting through channels of solid rock. Move past the locks and unwind on the upper deck for a birds-eye view. Take in the scenery and learn a little bit about the historic conquest of man over nature. After your fifteen mile excursion, stay awhile and grab a bite at the Canalside Café & Pub. Remember the camera, because the opportunities for some amazing photographs are endless.
Erie Canal Cruises is already up and running and offers cruises until mid-October. Cruise prices are $17.50 for adults and $9 for children. Large group, school and youth program discounts are available.
moondancecat.com | (716) 854-SAIL (7245)
Moondance Cat is the perfect way to go if you’re having a party or celebrating a special event with 45 or more of your closest friends. Specializing in on the water banquets and promising “fun in the sun, and wind in your hair,” this 65 passenger catamaran has been bringing smiles to Buffalonians for over 33 years. Party the day away with a full sound system, wet bar, and windswept open deck.
The “moondanceCat” is already out sailing and will continue until mid-October. Individual tours are available for $23 per person. The boat departs 6 times a day, and reservations are required. A full banquet and catering menu can be found on their website.
Niagara River Cruises
niagararivercruises.org | Robin: (716) 512-8081, Tom: (716) 773-2769
With a love of the Niagara River and all things on the water, Captain Tom is proud to take you out aboard the “Queen of Peace” and show you what the Northtowns of WNY have to offer. Presenting a number of holiday and special event themed cruises over the summer, Niagara River Cruises specializes in making memories that will last long after your boat ride ends. Charter your own event, or simply stop into one of their three boarding locations at the appropriate time and be spontaneous.
Niagara River Cruises is ready to go for the season and taking reservations. They will be in business until September. Food and drink are allowed on the boat. Special event prices are $25 for adults and $20 for children. Normal charter prices run $15-$20 for adults and $10-$13 for children.
Spirit of Buffalo
spiritofbuffalo.com | (716) 796-7210
For something a little out of the ordinary and lacking an engine, try the Spirit of Buffalo sailing out of Central Wharf. This 73 foot top-sail, steel schooner can accommodate 40 people and hold tons of excitement. With Pirate Cruises for the kids, and Wine in the Wind sails for the adults, anyone can find a reason to get out on the Spirit. Bask in the sun on a Day sail, or revel in the glow of the lake at sunset. Day or night, this family owned, local business guarantees your happiness.
Public sails start at $32 for adults and $18 for children. The Spirit of Buffalo is also available for private charters, weddings, and plenty of other special events. There are no minimums, and no group is too small. The boat will be out this month and until September. Call for availability.
Seven Seas Sailing Center
sevenseassailing.com | (716) 880-5154
Did you ever want to learn how to sail? Seven Seas Sailing Center is the premier sailing school in Buffalo, NY. With flexible schedules and understanding instructors, Seven Seas is the best place to learn how to pilot the boat yourself. After classroom, dockside, and on the water learning sessions, you’ll be a proud member of their yacht club and have full access to their sailboat rentals here at home and around the country. Just imagine taking the family out and showing off your skills in the shadow of the Skyway.
Classes are $350 for individuals and $600 if you bring a friend. Ages 6 and beyond are welcome to enroll. Seven Seas also has Sunset Sails and private charters if you are looking for a ride rather than a lesson.
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