I received a complimentary lighthouse cruise aboard Cross Sound Ferry’s Sea Jet Catamaran. Opinions about my experience are my own.
If you are a lighthouse enthusiast either living in or visiting New England, taking the Cross Sound Ferry’s Lighthouse Cruise from New London, CT is a must! You will see eight beautiful old lighthouses from the comfort of the speedy Sea Jet Catamaran.
My last day of school was Wednesday 6/25, and the opportunity to take this cruise happened to fall on the very next day. Needless to say, I was thrilled to have the day free to attend. A little over a year ago, I took the Cross Sound Ferry to Long Island for a tour of the wineries. You can see that post here. CSF was extremely generous to allow me to invite my parents along for the lighthouse cruise. It was a mini family outing! These grainy pics. were taken with my iPhone. I should have used the better camera.
The light house cruise aboard the Sea Jet is the Cross Sound Ferry’s latest summer sightseeing adventure cruise. The Sea Jet is a high-speed catamaran capable of cruising at 35 mph, which is in excess of 30 knots! This cruise takes passengers to see eight different light houses and historical sites along the Thames River, Long Island Sound and Gardiners Bay – in two hours. The Sea Jet leaves from the Cross Sound Ferry Terminal on 2 Ferry St. in New London, CT.
How did the lighthouse cruise come about for Cross Sound Ferry? According to Stanley Mickus, director of marketing and public affairs for CSF, the trips were inspired by annual lighthouse cruise fundraisers for the East End Seaport Museum in Long Island.
For those traveling via train, the Amtrak train station is located just 200 yards from the ferry terminal. It was neat to catch a shot of the train from the sundeck of the Sea Jet as it whistled on by.
A bit further east from the ferry terminal is the Mystic county region of CT where you will find Mystic Seaport, Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun Casino. One of the best little gems in that area is the Mystic Aquarium. We enjoyed our family trip to the Mystic Aquarium back in Dec. 2012 and June 2014. My mom and I also enjoy a yearly trip to Mohegan Sun Casino as well. 😉
Inside of the boat are two air-conditioned passenger cabins. Booths and large windows, offering panoramic views, line each side. In the center of the cabin there are rows of airline style seating.
I had to get a picture of Sara, who blogs at sweetlittleyou.com, and her adorable daughter as they enjoyed a snack just before departure. The booths are spacious and the views indeed were spectacular even from inside the Sea Jet!
Speaking of food, the Sea Jet offers a boxed lunch with the purchase of each ticket. The boxed lunches are prepared fresh in the deli and included sandwich wraps like chicken salad, ham or turkey with a dill pickle and small bag of potato chips. My Dad and I had turkey wraps and my Mom had ham and cheese. These were delicious.
I also enjoyed a coffee and half a scone and a bite or two from a black and white cookie. There is a nice selection of snacks, sweets, beverages and even adult beverages. The counter staff was professional and very courteous. For a look at all menu items and prices, click here.
Our cruise was narrated by former Navy man and sailor Ted Webb. He was extremely knowledgeable about the history of the light houses and the area. His narration was informative with some humor tossed in to keep things light. He told us there were no “bathrooms” on board (insert long pause here) but, there were indeed “heads” (the nautical term for a bathroom on a boat). Phew!
In addition to the lighthouses, the Sea Jet travels by two war forts. Fort Trumbull was built on a rocky point of land near the mouth of the Thames River on Long Island Sound, the fort was completed in 1777 and named for Governor Trumbull, who served from 1769 to 1784. Fort Trumbull is the Revolutionary War Fort compromised by traitor Benedict Arnold.
Fort Griswold is a former American military base in Groton, Connecticut. Named after then Deputy Governor Matthew Griswold, the fort played a key role in the early stages of the American Revolutionary War. In tandem with Fort Trumbull on the opposite side of the harbor, Griswold served to defend the port of New London.
The Groton Monument, sometimes called the Fort Griswold Monument, is a granite monument in Groton, Connecticut. It is dedicated to the defenders who fell during the Battle of Groton Heights on September 6, 1781. We could see the monument clearly from the upper deck. It was a gorgeous day.
The General Dynamics Electric Boat Division has been the primary builder of submarines for the United States Navy for over 100 years. They are located in Groton, CT. We could see the facility from the boat. We were lucky to see this sub pass right by us.
New London Harbor Light
The New London Harbor Light is the oldest lighthouse in Connecticut. The original New London Harbor Light helped to guide colonial privateers who sought shelter as they traveled up the Thames River during the American Revolution. We had a great view of this beautiful lighthouse. The boat stopped at each lighthouse and turns 360 degrees giving passengers plenty of photo opportunities.
The Avery Point Lighthouse was the last lighthouse built in CT as a navigational aid. This lighthouse was completed in 1943, but was not lighted until a year later due to concerns over possible Nazi attacks during WWII.
The New London Ledge is a French Second Empire Structure architecturally unique for a lighthouse. This lighthouse is reportedly haunted by the ghost of an early innkeeper.
During prohibition, the innkeeper at the North Dumpling Lighthouse was accused of signaling to liquor smugglers. Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway, now owns the North Dumpling island and this lighthouse. He has installed advanced illumination and isolated it from the power grid.
Race Rock Light is a lighthouse on Race Rock Reef, southwest of Fishers Island, New York. The reef is a dangerous set of rocks off the coast of Fishers Island on Long Island Sound and was the site of many shipwrecks. In fact, many ships were lost on Race Rock Reef before Congress decided to erect this lighthouse. The foundation alone took seven years to build. This lighthouse is also believed to be haunted and was also featured on Ghost Hunters. This was my favorite lighthouse. It must be the charm of the 19 century engineering and design that won me over.
Little Gull Lighthouse
The Little Gull Lighthouse was taken by the British in the war of 1812 and later destroyed by a hurricane in 1815. The tower that stands today dates from 1868.
Plum Island Light House
Plum Island was the site of the first battle between British and colonial troops during the Revolutionary War and is the longtime home to the Plum Island Animal Disease Center laboratory.
Orient Point Lighthouse
The Orient Point Lighthouse or “Coffee Pot” Lighthouse is located off of Orient Point, New York. It is also known as the spark plug lighthouse due to its tower shape. This cast iron clad and brick lined lighthouse was marked for demolition by the Coastguard in 1970, but was saved due to public outcry. Look to the lower left and you will see a man standing there – most likely watching us watching him.
The Ruins is the site of a former military fort used for target practice during WWII. You get a feel for how big the area is by comparing it with the boats off to the right.
The lighthouse cruise was just about two hours long. There were so many great sites to see that time flew by so quickly. My parents and I agreed that this cruise is a great option for families. The Sea Jet is so wide, which makes for a smooth, comfortable yet exciting ride. Kids will enjoy seeing the different lighthouses, beautiful boats, perhaps a submarine, and will learn some area history along the way.
Cruises depart three days a week in the summer and one day per week in the fall.
- June 27 – September 9: Sat., Sun., and Wed.
- September 12 – October 10: Saturdays only.
All cruises depart at 12:30 pm lasting approx. 2 hours.
- $28 Adult
- $14 child (ages 2-11)
- Under 2 free
*Advance reservations are highly recommended. For reservations and more information visit longislandferry.com/lighthousecruise.com
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