Touring by water provides a refreshing alternative from the “road routine,” as many group planners know. Seeing the sights on a harbor cruise, riverboat or traditionally rigged sailing vessel adds a heady dimension to any group itinerary. Waterborne trips not only give travelers a fresh perspective but in some cases provide access to areas that can’t be experienced any other way.
Essex Steam Train & Riverboat
The only steam train and riverboat connection in the country spotlights the unspoiled Connecticut River Valley, designated “one of the last great places on earth” by the Nature Conservancy. The serenity of the valley, with its coves, inlets, marshes, wildlife and rocky shoreline, enchants passengers on the 220-passenger Becky Thatcher, a three-deck, Mississippi-style riverboat. Sights on the 1¼-hour cruise include Gillette Castle and the Goodpseed Opera House. The boat can be chartered for evening cruises. The 2½-hour rail-cruise journey begins at the historic station in Essex, Conn. with a ride in vintage coaches pulled by a steam locomotive. The train travels through the quintessential New England towns of Deep River and Chester and near the tidal wetlands of Pratt Cove and Chester Creek, natural habitats for birds. A highlight is the undeveloped Selden Neck State Park, accessible only by boat. (essexsteamtrain.com)