The blue waves foam, disturbed by something massive in the depths. Then, in a flurry of spray, a humpback whale breaks the surface, slapping the water with its gray and white fins. This exhilarating sight is frequently afforded to guests of Cape May Whale Watcher. Helmed by Captains Jeff Stewart Sr. and Jr. alongside Captains Miles, Jack, and Jim, the company’s fleet of two provides comfortable, fast-paced passage to some of the favorite haunts of marine mammals on the eastern seaboard. Knobble-jawed humpbacks and smooth-skinned finbacks are often found frolicking and playing in the teeming ecosystem of Delaware Bay and the surrounding ocean, and the Stewart family offers a guarantee that if no whales, dolphins, or porpoises are spotted, tourists receive a complimentary, never-expiring voucher for another venture. Besides their cetacean-spotting voyages, the vessels run historical lighthouse cruises and catered sunset tours.
The ships that comprise The Starlight Fleet's squadron of vessels each transport passengers across the waves on a variety of sea adventures. The Starlight ferries fisherman on four-hour excursions to hook sea bass, flounder, croakers and triggerfish, the captain using sonar, GPS, and a knowledge of the currents to identify prime fishing real estate. The Atlantic Star typically serves as a whale-watching vessel and is kitted out with a snack-filled galley and a touch tank filled with horseshoe crabs and other local sea life.
The company even boasts its very own pirate ship, The Dark Star, a custom-designed vessel built by Naval Architect Michael LeMole. It takes passengers on swashbuckling adventures during which they learn what a swash is and how to buckle it, as well as participate in treasure hunts and face painting.
Although Sightseer Whale & Dolphin Trips continues an almost 70-year tradition of chartering sightseers out to sea in search of wildlife, oceanography isn’t its only passion. The company also holds in high regard the patriotism and courageousness displayed by our nation's armed forces, honoring all active members of the military and their immediate families with complimentary tours through aqueous avenues. Each two- to three-hour voyage brings up to 187 guests in close quarters with the Atlantic Ocean's splash-happy mammals while a knowledgeable biologist narrates the tour. The company's cruise boat manned by seasoned captains boasts both shaded and sunny areas, and summertime travelers can count on a refreshing ocean breeze to keep them cool.
If you need ten good reasons to spend an hour on 70-foot speedboat operated by Cyclone Speedboat Tours, they've got you covered. Otherwise, the promise of dolphin sightings or glimpsing a colorful sunset seem compelling enough. Licensed captains and seasoned mates navigate the giant yellow boat that holds 128 passengers on a round trip tour from the dock at 3rd and Bay Avenue. While seated on the open deck, enjoy the sea mist and the wind in your hair, keeping an eye out for pods of leaping dolphins and other native wildlife.
Some say that the Assateague wild ponies swam ashore after a 17th-century shipwreck. Others insist that they are feral remnants of colonist livestock that have since adapted to the marshy terrain. The captain of the Bay Breeze—a USCG-certified seaman with a knack for spotting bashful wildlife—can't claim to know the truth, but he can show you where to find the ponies as they canter, graze, and hold hooves while walking along the beach.
During his sunset pontoon-boat tours, he points out the wildlife to up to six passengers taking in panoramic views of the Maryland coast that’s home to birds such as herons and eagles, as well as dolphins. Though he specializes in steering past the ponies at the Assateague National Wildlife Refuge, he can also arrange custom charters, carrying birthday parties and other groups between shoreline bars and restaurants.
With fishing boats, charters, and dolphin- and whale-watching trips departing from dawn until dusk, the captains at Fisherman’s Wharf keep the docks buzzing with activity. This organized schedule of comings and goings can be attributed to the fact that four generations of the same family have been overseeing the fleet and learning the ropes for more than 70 years.