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.
Hampton Roads Air Tours delights passengers with overhead views of ships drifting in and out of Norfolk's downtown harbor; the centuries-old foundations of the Jamestown Settlement; the lighthouses of Cape Henry; and a sprawling patchwork quilt of lakes, forests, and meadowlands. The company's pilots helm small, wide-windowed planes to grant passengers this unique aerial perspective on day and night tours. They fly passengers over natural landscapes and cities by day and over Norfolk after sunset when the city lights blink to life. Their seasonal flights fill hearts with wonder as guests witness yuletide light displays or a giant cupid scaling a skyscraper with his betrothed. During aerial-photography flights, pilots provide riders with full open-window access for shooting personal, artistic, and business-related projects.
For many, owning a yacht is as unlikely as parallel parking a yacht on the eighth try. Since 2001, SailTime Virginia Beach has been dedicated to ousting these doubts with an innovative and affordable model for boat access. In addition to its membership and ownership programs, the business hires USCG-licensed master captains to take the helm for charters on their fleet of Hunter sailing vessels, which range from the 22' Hunter 216 to the 36' Hunter 36. When traversing the cresting waves, passengers may spot pods of porpoises, who often leap out of the water to high-five onlookers. Those wishing to sharpen their own nautical skills can enroll in SailTime's ASAC-certified sailing school.