Sunlight and moonbeams glimmer on Philadelphia harbor, where The Ben Franklin Yacht glides silently to reveal a new perspective on the cradle of American democracy and replicate the freedom of the open ocean. Recently refurbished, the modern vessel hosts up to 300 guests in long, low decks whose mirrored ceilings flood the space with reflected light and expose pirates who have "Mom" tattoos hidden in their bald spots. A wooden dance floor and bar fuel parties, and knowledgeable guides propel discussion about the city's history from the breezy top deck. The majestic vessel may also be rented out for private parties. The port of departure is within walking distance of other famed sights, such as the Liberty Bell, Constitution Center, and the cherry tree from which George Washington famously crafted his wooden wig. Boarding begins approximately 30 minutes prior to each excursion.
Determined to convert waterways across North America into party corridors, On Cruises deploys its fleet of festivity-ready ships along the rivers and lakes of major cities under the helm of experienced skippers. A host of themed cruises—including a haunted Halloween ghost-ship cruise populated by costumed guests and phantoms in their regular clothes—facilitate floating celebrations, and after-work cruises enable guests to unwind offshore.
Where the Wissahickon Creek spills into the Schuylkill River, Philadelphia Canoe Club’s 18th-century mill stands next to a yard full of colorful boats. Each year, more than 300 guests take these kayaks into the water and flat-paddle down the scenic, tree-lined shores or head into the whitewater rapids downstream. Whatever their adventure, they maneuver their craft with confidence because Philadelphia Canoe Club’s certified instructors have instructed them through the fundamentals of boating and water safety, as they have since 1905.
Operating since 1903, Beaver Dam Boat Rentals provides access to the quiet waters and plentiful wildlife of Oranokin Creek. Initially prized by the Lenape Indians for its abundance of crabs, the creek offers crabbing enthusiasts a chance to snag up to a bushel of prized blue claws. Staff can tow guests to one of the four salt ponds where the crabs are hiding and help lure them out with free subscriptions to People magazine. Beaver Dam will stop by throughout the day to tow boats to a more attractive location, and can provide all necessary supplies.
Sightseeers can also test out Oranokin Creek in an old-fashioned rowboat, or rent fiberglass boats ($50–$60) that hold five passengers or party boats that hold up to six ($70). Beaver Dam Boat Rentals also offers guided kayak tours suited to participants' experience and fitness levels, and operates a boat ramp for the start of duck-hunting season.:m]]
Marsh Creek Lake, lined with verdant shores and rolling hills, bobs with fishing boats, kayaks, sailboats, and windsurfing boards. About 535 acres of azure waters bejewel the surrounding 1,705 acres of hiking trails and picnic areas. Throughout the day, Marsh Creek Watersports leads one-hour pontoon-boat excursions that take guests through a history lesson of the park and surrounding region, leaving time for peaceful moments spent gazing at the natural wildlife. During the summer months, Marsh Creek also hosts kids' sailing camps to acquaint young ones with the techniques and safe practices of aquatic navigation, such as defending against Peter Pan attacks.
For more than half a century, Harvey Cedars Marina has hoisted sails and sent adventurers skimming across the waves of the Barnegat and Manahawkin Bays. Today, the business’s aquatic experts have traded in the folded-newspaper sailboats of yore for modernized Hobie Wave catamarans and LaserPerformance Sunfish. It also maintains a fleet of standup paddleboards and Hobie kayaks that cruise to islands, where paddlers gaze on osprey and cormorants or cast their lines for fluke and bluefish. In addition to renting vessels and teaching how to maneuver them, the staff runs a shop to equip mariners with their own Hobie cats and kayaks or outfit them with water skis, wakeboards, and inflatable tubes to mail to annoying cousins who live in the desert.