Chances are if you are from Northeast Ohio, you have been down to The Flats area of the Cuyahoga River and you have seen the Nautica Queen. The dining cruise ship was christened in Cleveland in 1992 and has remained at the same dock on the west bank of The Flats near Jacobs Pavilion and the Greater Cleveland Aquarium for over 30 years. When you purchase a lunch or dinner cruise on the Nautica Queen, you are set to experience an on-water adventure that brings the best of Cleveland's dining and sightseeing together!
One incredible sight-seeing event that only comes to Cleveland every three years is the Tall Ships Challenge Festival. This year, the festival takes place July 7-10. When the tall ships are in town, the Nautica Queen loves nothing more than to be right down there with them. The lunch and dinner cruises during this time are especially popular among senior citizens and families with small children. Being on the Nautica Queen during the event eliminates all the walking to and from the tall ships and makes it easier to keep your kids closer to you in a more relaxed setting instead of being in the middle of the large crowds that flock to the Cleveland Waterfront for the event.
"Our cruises during the Tall Ships Challenge are very popular because it provides great accessibility and an amazing vantage point to see the ships without having to be down in the event fighting the crowd," says Colleen Grey, Director of Operations for Nautica Queen.
On Thurs., July 7, the tall ships will be in a sail-in parade where the ships will be out of the docks and out sailing together on Lake Erie, which Colleen says is a sight you can't miss.
"It's really a very cool scene out there on the water when all the ships are under sail," she says. "It's a very popular event for us."
Nautica Queen will offer lunch and dinner cruises for the sail-in parade on Thursday and throughout the entire weekend, including a Sunday brunch, where the Captain will cruise right up next to the tall ships at the dock to get a great, close-up view.
Nautica Queen is under the helm of Captain Joe Slusarski, who has an amazing story to share about his journey up the ranks to becoming the top captain in charge of the popular cruise ship. Believe it or not, Captain Joe's first job on the Nautica Queen was as a busboy. After his stint as busboy he was able to work his way into being part of the maritime operations crew and eventually was promoted to first mate. From there, he went through a captain training course to become a licensed captain and today he is the top captain, or Port Captain, of the Nautica Queen.
Obviously, Captain Joe has a natural talent for navigating on the water, but his love for boating and all the challenges of being a boat captain on Lake Erie is evident when you hear him talk about his chosen career.
"It's a great job! I really love all the views of the city that the river and lake have to offer," he says. "It can be challenging at times, but that's one of the things I love the most about it."
Captain Joe puts a lot of care and consideration into which route he will take for the lunch and dinner cruises. Keeping in mind passenger safety, weather and river traffic, he aims to give guests the best views of Cleveland, including some unique sights that are hard to find unless you are out on the water. And if you are telling yourself that the movement of the water would keep you from enjoying this amazing experience, both Colleen and Captain Joe assure guests that the feel aboard a larger boat on the water is actually quite different and smoother than the smaller crafts most may have experienced.
Nautica Queen's lunch, Sunday brunch and dinner cruises run rain or shine on climate-controlled, enclosed decks, which allows the ship to offer cruises from Easter Sunday until New Year's Eve. Private charters are also available. The atmosphere aboard the Nautica Queen is a "place of celebration" says Colleen. It's perfect for celebrating everything from a 90th birthday party, to an after-prom gathering, to a corporate event and or a wedding. Bonus: Captain Joe is even licensed to perform marriages on the ship.
To see the Nautica Queen's schedule and prices for lunch and dinner cruises, visit their website at NauticaQueen.com and follow their Facebook page and Instagram page @nauticaqueencle to keep up on events happening throughout the year.