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Ship out on a cool cruise in local waters


What better way to enjoy the salty delights of the Baltimore Inner Harbor or the Chesapeake Bay than by relaxing in an air-conditioned luxury yacht.

Fresh out of wealthy friends with big boats? Companies operating out of Annapolis, Baltimore and Havre de Grace offer cruises aboard their stylish ships for the public to enjoy.

You want to take one, but wait, aren't those cruises for picture-snapping tourists? Baltimoreans don't really shell out money to eat buffet food and hear the history of Domino Sugar, do they?

Yes, they do, as passengers aboard a recent lunch tour given by Harbor Cruises proved. While there were some tourists, many people from the Baltimore area were enjoying the excursion on the Bay Lady.

"The food was good," said lifelong Baltimorean Harvey Banks. "I've been on three or four of these cruises and I have always enjoyed the food, especially on the dinner cruises."

A group of passengers from Pennsylvania loved cruising through historic Fells Point and Fort McHenry, although Philadelphia resident Mary Haley lamented the absence of Baltimore's famous crabs on the menu.

Harbor Cruises does offer a crab-feast cruise departing Friday evenings throughout the summer.

If crabs aren't your thing, there are plenty of other specialty-cruise options.

The Watermark Co. runs a variety of scenic and themed cruises departing from the Annapolis City Dock. A 2 1/2 -hour Bay Lighthouse cruise passes by three of the Chesapeake's historic lighthouses. A guide, taking on the role of a 19th-century lighthouse keeper, entertains passengers with tales of the lighthouses' histories.

For a more kid-friendly option, the company runs "Captain Billy Baye's Pirates of the Chesapeake" tour. Also departing from the Annapolis City Dock, this hour-long tour is intended to entertain "kids of all ages, as well as adults," says Wendy Thomas, Watermark's director of marketing.

If you are looking for something a bit more historical, the Chesapeake Heritage Conservancy program runs cruises aboard one of the country's last remaining oyster dredging sailboats.

Setting sail on a skipjack from Havre de Grace's Tydings Park, the cruise aims to teach passengers about the Chesapeake Bay's history and the dying trade of oyster dredging.

In addition to its weekend day cruises, the company also offers a "Brews and Cruise" event today from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in which samplings of beers from area microbreweries will be featured.

A sampling of weekend cruises

Watermark Cruises

Annapolis Dock 800-569-9622

Bay Lighthouses Tour: 2 1/2 hours; 12:15 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. Sundays. Adults $35; children 11 and younger $17

Thomas Point Lighthouse Cruise: 90 minutes; 4:15 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Adults $18; children 3-11 $9

Captain Billy Baye's Pirates of the Chesapeake: 1 hour; 10:45 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Adults $15; children 11 and younger $10

Day on the Bay to St. Michael's: 10 a.m. Saturdays. Adults $60; children $30 (admission includes entry to Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum)

Harbor Cruises

Inner Harbor 410-727-3113

Champagne Brunch: 3 hours; noon Sundays. Adults $42; children $21

Moonlight Cruise: 2 1/2 hours; 11:30 p.m. Saturdays. Adults $30

Clipper City

Inner Harbor 410-837-6700

Pirate Adventures Cruise: 2 hours; 2 p.m. Saturdays. Adults $20; children 10 and younger $10

Reggae Party Sails: 2 hours; Fridays and Saturdays 8 p.m. Adults $25

Sunday Sailing Brunch: 2 hours; 11 a.m. Sundays. Adults $25; children 5-10 $15

The Skipjack Martha Lewis

Tydings Park Havre de Grace 410-939-4078

Brews and Cruise: 2 hours; 7 p.m. today and July 12. Adults $35

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