Atop the Victory Rover, guests absorb the oceanic sights and sounds of the naval base, replete with aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, and other armada accouterments illuminated by a boat-top docent. Up to 149 guests can feast eyes on the gentle waves of the Elizabeth River and Hampton Roads Harbor as their buoyant steed maneuvers past huge commercial ships and giant rubber duckies. On two-hour tours scheduled almost daily, the Victory Rover traverses a cruise route that takes history buffs past the site of the Civil War Battle of the Ironclads and mythology buffs past Poseidon’s watery front lawn. A main cabin stocked with plush seats and air conditioning offers respite from the salty breezes and talkative parrots of the otherwise comfortable open-air top deck.
It's been more than 25 years since American Rover raised its majestic red sails and floated out on its first narrated tour. From April to October of each year, the 135-foot schooner still journeys across the smooth waters of Hampton Roads Harbor and the Elizabeth River. As its flags ripple in the wind, the three-masted sailboat explores sights such as Old Fort Norfolk and the battleship Wisconsin. Its captain narrates each of these excursions and invites guests to take turns at the helm and man the sails.
At night, American Rover transforms into a floating party. Twinkling harbor lights, live musicians, and a fully stocked bar set the mood for birthday celebrations or everyday outings. Meanwhile, climate-controlled lounges hide passengers who have an awkward history with the man in the moon.
With the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean in its backyard, the Xscape Water Sports complex lends itself to activities ranging from jet skiing and kayaking to journeys on aqua cycles—wheeled vehicles that let riders pedal over waves while tossing newspapers onto the top hatches of resident submarines. The shop's 2,000-square-foot loft includes a private guest space, snack bar, gift shop, and a yoga area, whereas the sand outside hosts beach games such as horseshoes and volleyball.
Walking across the dock to Nauticus, visitors' eyes are inevitably drawn to the sleeping giant nestled up alongside it: the 850-foot battleship Wisconsin. One of the largest battleships ever built by the United States Navy, its massive, 16-inch guns lent their firepower to WWII, Korea, and Operation Desert Storm. The hulking warship is now retired, its gigantic mass a testament to both its immense power and the strength of the open ocean whose waves it once plied.
This dichotomy between peaceful repose and thundering wrath is fully embraced by Nauticus, immersing visitors in exhibits that explore the ocean and man’s use of it at their most peaceful and destructive. On the Wisconsin, visitors can tour crew messes and officer lounges, getting a taste of naval life. Inside the center, permanent exhibits include Our Mighty Seaport, which delves into Norfolk's busy maritime commerce, with real-time updates on ships sailing past and an observation deck overlooking the port. Turning to nature, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Science on a Sphere exhibit simulates extreme weather conditions on a 6-foot video sphere. In Horseshoe Crab Cove, visitors can pet starfish, crabs, and sea urchins without having to take turns with nearby seagulls.
Following Memorial Day weekend, the Nauticus will host new features to their exhibits such as access to new interior areas of the battleship [Wisconsin], including the chapel, post office, a section of enlisted berthing, and dental office, a WWII era song and dance revue, and an interactive top secret mission on board the ship.
Originally built to sail around the world, the New Horizons motorsailer now spends its days providing Maine hospitality to its guests while gliding along the scenic Northeastern coast of the United States. After boarding the sailboat, groups can take in the sweeping views of the New York Harbor, the Hudson River, and past the Statue of Liberty, while sipping drinks and savoring treats such as the classic Maine lobster roll, which can be purchased on board. Seafarers may also embark on special voyages, such as Lobster Day Sail picnics. With its spacious design, semi-private upper deck, and modern sound system, the New Horizons can handle events that range from large family gatherings to old-fashioned ocean-drinking contests.
Mambo Grill's chefs craft dishes of carne asada, burritos, red beans, and rice from scratch daily using fresh meats and veggies, punching them up with authentic imported seasonings and, when necessary, a burly gentlemen named Bugsy. They eschew the traditional spiciness of Mexican food for the full-bodied zest of Central American and Caribbean cuisine, ensuring each dish's taste and color is faithful to that of its country of origin.