Dedicated to upholding company founder Captain Arnold Whittaker’s passion for seafaring, Isles of Shoals Steamship Company owners Robin and Bob Whittaker introduce guests to the rich history and scenic beauty of New England’s harbors, estuaries, and islands on a variety of daily cruises. The heart of their operation is the Coast Guard–inspected and certified M/V Thomas Laighton_, a replica Victorian steamship replete with a brass staircase and open-air sundeck. During tours, a licensed captain and seasoned crew steer the ship to destinations such as the Isles of Shoals, a scenic area located a few miles from the U.S. coast and 3,577 miles from the Portuguese coast, which affords passengers a chance to glimpse historic forts and lighthouses. Additionally, fall-foliage tours along the Piscataqua, Cocheeco, and Salmon Falls Rivers, Dover Point, and Great Bay offer waterside views of color-changing flora. Along with public cruises, Isles of Shoals Steamship Company also rents out its majestic vessel for private events and hosts field trips that introduce passengers to local marine life.
It's a tough job, but somebody has to search the globe for little-known destinations for discerning travelers. For the past 35 years, Mike Thiel has been happy to oblige. He's climbed aboard all manner of transportation—from hot-air balloons to vintage steam trains to dogsleds—in order to curate upscale and exotic vacation experiences. As the son of a United States Diplomatic Corps officer who became a consultant for the oil and gas industry, Thiel has long been globetrotting and seeking respite from overcrowded beaches and tourist-filled hot spots. He founded Hideaways International, Inc. to share what he knows about luxury travel with everyday people. As his company has grown over the years, Thiel has advised high-profile media outlets such as Forbes.com on how to get away from it all, with a 2007 article about the world's best private beaches and a 2008 feature on avoiding spring-break crowds.
Thiel and his team of travel specialists guide people to high-end cruises, breathtaking Italian villas, and vacation-home rentals in the Caribbean. They even help clients rent a private island to feel like a celebrity or test out a dinosaur-DNA cloning project. Members of the Hideaways Aficionado Club also receive exclusive perks and discounts with participating partners.
Gundalow Company likens its namesake to the tractor-trailer rigs of today. Flat-bottomed cargo barges with a single mast, gundalows once sailed down shallow rivers, carrying fish, lumber, bricks, and coal to towns in the Piscataqua region. The company’s mission is to preserve the history of this ship and the maritime life it once facilitated. They are aided in this mission by two vessels. The Captain Edward H. Adams is a historically accurate replica of the Fanny M., the last commercial gundalow. It was helmed by Captain Adams, who was also known for gathering awareness for the health of the Great Bay Estuary. Visitors can hop aboard this permanently docked ship and participate in an array of hands-on educational programs. The Piscataqua, on the other hand, offers on-the-go lessons, as it is US Coast Guard–certified and available for public and private sails. During two-hour tours, passengers travel along six inland rivers, picnicking, helping the crew pull up lobster traps, or searching the water’s surface for a third eye in their reflections.