Those of you who know me personally or have been following our celebrations on this blog should be well aware of my birthday “obsession”. I just have to do something special with my loved ones on our birthdays to mark the day! About half the time, my birthday falls on a weekend (or Labor Day Monday), making it easier to plan a family celebration. This year it fell on a weekday/school day, but with just a little more planning and effort, I still got myself a special family birthday CELEBRATION!
I love everything WATER and for this birthday I thought that sailing in Newport Harbor, Rhode Island, about an hour away from our Massachusetts suburb, would be something an entire family could enjoy. (Our kids are 6 and 16, so it is not always easy to find such activity.)
Being limited to an after school/after work time frame, I booked us on a 90-minute sunset cruise with Cruise Newport, on a 72’ Schooner Madeline. Our sail was at 6:30 pm (sail times vary each season, check the website for all sail times they offer). I reserved our sail a day ahead, and suggest that you book even earlier in the peak of the summer. The vessel is licensed for 49 passengers and it was pretty full during our sail.
We left our suburb south of Boston at 3:30 pm and made it to Newport in less than 1.5 hour (with traffic). Cruise Newport sails from Bannister Wharf, a lovely waterfront area in downtown Newport, lined with little shops and restaurants. We had about 45 minutes to spare before our sail, so we set down to enjoy some (slightly overpriced) drinks and raw seafood at Black Pearl right next to Cruise Newport ticket booth (which is also where we boarded Madeline).
Now, I am not the “adventurous” type, and having never been on a sailing vessel before, I considered myself somewhat of a “risk taker” when planning this family sail (in line with the “new beginnings” mood of the day. ) I don’t want to disappoint you, but there was nothing really “adventurous” about sailing in Newport Harbor on a beautiful early September afternoon, although it was pretty awesome nerveless! (and frankly, I prefer relaxing over adventurous anyways, especially on my birthday!)
There were several other families with young children on board. Madeline has a special “lowered” area in the front of the vessel that is most suitable (and safe) for young children. Romantic types and groups of friends hang out on the other side, right under the sails.
As the sail progressed and we felt more relaxed, we moved out of the “safety” zone and into the “cooler” parts of the schooner, where all the “action” was.
I already pointed out that it was just too calm of a day for us to have “much” to sail on and we were on motor a lot. When we were “on sails” – my son was happy to take sailing instruction from the Captain.
Complimentary non-alcoholic beverages are offered on all Cruise Newport boats and trips, but Madeleine also offers complimentary champagne and beer during the sunset sail.
As we were making our way through the Newport Harbor, fellow passengers’ friendly and happy chatter made us all feel part of a nice celebratory occasion. There is no “official” narration during the sunset sail, but the crew was happy to share the stories and point to interesting sites, as we passed them- like this one-house taxation-free island, for example:
Our 90 minutes on the water were over way too soon, but what an enjoyable way it was to spend a birthday afternoon with the family.
If you sail with Newport Cruises, keep this in mind:
1. You can book your Madeline sails through November 1 before they close for winter (sails start again in the spring).
2. Children of all ages are welcome on board.
3. While you may be able to book right at their ticket booth at Bannister Wharf on the day of the sail (depending on the day and season), I recommend booking at least couple of days ahead via the website, or by calling 401-847-0298 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Plan to arrive 20 minutes prior to your sail time.
5. The nearest parking lot is next to the Mooring Restaurant. (Alternatively, The Newport County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau offers a larger parking lot which is located on America ‘s Cup Avenue about a ten minute walk from Bannister’s Wharf).
6. Wear comfortable shoes, it’s fun to move around the boat (once the sail is set).
7. You can bring snacks, but they ask you not to bring large spreads of food.
8. For the consideration of other passengers, the company asks that you do not make or take phone calls while onboard.
Our visit was arranged in part by Discover Newport. Check them out for all your Newport what to do ideas. We can’t wait to come back to Newport later this month for some wine tasting, ocean drives (and walks!), and grand mansion touring.
HAVE YOU DONE SOMETHING SPECIAL FOR YOUR BIRTHDAY? I AM ALWAYS LOOKING FOR BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION IDEAS, SO DO SHARE IN THE COMMENTS!
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This post is part of the exciting collection of travel stories: #WeekendWanderlust at Southern Gypsy and #TheWeeklyPostcard at A Hole in My Shoe and #wkendtravelinspiration at AlbomAdventures. Check them out for your next trip idea!