Family Sail in Newport Harbor, Rhode Island

Family Sail in Newport Harbor, Rhode Island

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.

Family Sail in Newport Harbor, Rhode Island
Madeline is being readied for 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.

Family Sail in Newport Harbor, Rhode Island

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.

Family Sail in Newport Harbor, Rhode Island
On a sunset sail in Newport Harbor. You can see the sun about to set in the distance

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.

Family Sail in Newport Harbor, Rhode Island

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:

Family Sail in Newport Harbor, Rhode Island

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.

Family Sail in Newport Harbor, Rhode Island
Madeline sets sail


Family Sail in Newport Harbor, Rhode Island
Newport Harbor
Family Sail in Newport Harbor, RI
The sun has just set


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

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.


Pin this for later!

Family Sail in Newport Harbor, Rhode Island


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!




Travel Notes & Beyond

23 thoughts on “Family Sail in Newport Harbor, Rhode Island”

  1. Our birthdays must be close to the same date. Mine usually falls a few days after Labor Day. I usually request experiences instead of “things” for my birthday, but often the actual experience is on another day.

    1. Victoria@celebratetheweekend

      Vicky, as I am the celebration planner in the family I don’t “request”- I organize myself. My family happily obliges, so I only occasionally “complain”.

  2. Like you I am a BIG believer in celebrating birthdays, and I mean really celebrating them. This sounds like a wonderful way to do it; a sailboat, a sunset and champagne, what more could you want?!

  3. Happy Birthday!!! We are big on birthdays too and similar to you I am always looking for a relaxing adventure. Most of the time I’m pulled around by my adventurous hubby and kids. So, my day is all about relaxation 😉

  4. on calm day I’m all for sailing! Sunset is a beautiful time to do so as well!! I never plan anything exciting on my brithday to be honest…I usually go for lunch or dinner!

  5. i couldn’t have planned a better birthday! I love Newport and to do a sunset sail, must be just perfect. I have to keep Discover Newport listed, thanks for the tip!

  6. That looked like a perfect birthday celebration! I’ve never sailed, but I need to do it. The peace and calm of the water makes it look like a perfectly relaxing time. I’m glad you had a great family time. Sailing is moving up on my to-do list! Thanks for sharing!

  7. I adore the photo of your daughter at the end of the post, but was also glad to see your son’s big smile while steering the boat as well! What a fun way to celebrate your birthday! I am glad you decided on a sailing boat and liked it. I miss sailing, though I was never on a boat this big. Can’t wait to read your posts about the mansions, especially how the little one liked it. I have been holding off on going there because I’m not sure my daughter will care too much for that, even though I love this type of stuff.

  8. Victoria@celebratetheweekend

    Thank you so much, Jolanta! I plan to go back this weekend but the weather might just be too great for spend time indoors. We took Vi to the Bavarian castles and she enjoyed it. I think she is getting a hang of being a tourist (and a travel blogger daughter with all the museums and castles touring that come with it:)

  9. First of all, Happy Birthday! Glad to see that you had an enjoyable weekend and were able to take advantage of it to the fullest. I would of never thought of the idea of sailing to Newport. I’m not a big fan of ocean waters, and waves. I get sea sick very quickly.

  10. Pingback: Summer Weekend Trips from Boston

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *