Plan a date on a sunset cruise

There's nothing more romantic than watching the sun set from a boat on the water and there are plenty of sunset sails offered in Maryland.

Sunset Cruise Woodwind WIt was raining last July, when Colleen Chester boarded the M/V Bay Breeze in Chesapeake City for a sunset cruise. But even a summer storm couldn’t detract from the experience.

“The guy who ran the cruise brought the sunshine on board,” says Chester, who came down from Deptford, New Jersey for the cruise. “The view was amazing and even though we knew not one soul on board, we had a blast.”

Chester and her date spent the evening dancing and watching what they could of the watery sunset.

“Sometimes people need an escape from the grind of everyday life,” says Steven Connell, who runs M/V Bay Breeze Boat Cruises with his father. “Witnessing a spectacular sunset is unparalleled to anything else you can do in Maryland. In the heat of the summer months, when the humidity draws out the red, orange, yellow and pink hues of the sky – for a brief moment in time, you can see with your own eyes what heaven must look like.”

From the northern reaches of the Chesapeake Bay, to the southern part of the state, here are a few sunset cruise options.

Explore the upper Chesapeake region

The M/V Bay Breeze Boat Cruises typically run from Chesapeake City down Back Creek and the Elk River to the opening of the upper Chesapeake Bay, and back via the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal. During the two-hour sunset cruise, the crew points out notable sites on shore. Guests can buy food and drinks and enjoy music along with the views.

The boat seats about 26 passengers and can be reserved for private events, though as Colleen Chester can attest, public cruises are also a blast.

Departs from Schaefer’s Marina, 208 Bank Street, Chesapeake City
6:30 - 8:30 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, May 1-Oct. 31 (April and October hours may vary)
$16 for adults for sunset cruise (other cruise prices vary). Food and drink available for purchase.
410-885-5500, mvbaybreeze.com

See the sun set over the southern Chesapeake

Down in St. Mary's County, Fish the Bay Charters offers sunset cruises aboard the Lisa S., a 48-foot wooden Chesapeake style charter boat that explores the Southern Maryland portion of the bay. Cruises travel from St. Jerome’s Creek out into the bay and back, passing the Point-No-Point Lighthouse.

Bottled water and light snacks are provided, though passengers can also bring additional food and drinks on board. In addition to the sunset, passengers might spot local wildlife such as osprey and pelicans and even swimming porpoises.

Unlike some local cruises, this one does not include narration, though the captain and crew welcome questions and are more than willing to chat.

Departs from 50126 Dove Cove Road, Dameron
Cruise times and schedules vary; call for availability
$30 per person (with discounts for larger groups)
301-904-0935, Mdsunset.fatcow.com

Take in Baltimore’s city lights

Sunsets can be even more beautiful when paired with a twinkling city skyline.

In Baltimore, Cruises on the Bay by Watermark offer two different sunset options. On Fridays, a 90-minute TGIF cruise takes place during the “golden hour,” and ends with the sunset, says Katie Redmiles, a spokesperson for Watermark . Guests can take advantage of a full bar, including happy hour prices, along with snacks for purchase while gazing at the city sights — from the Inner Harbor to Fort McHenry.

An hour-long City Lights cruise is just as popular. The cruise takes place during the sunset and twilight time, showcasing the bright lights of the city and the Domino Sugar sign. Most Baltimore tours are aboard are aboard the Annapolitan II, a comfortable boat with climate controlled lower deck and open upper deck.

Departs from Light Street Finger Piers, 555 Light St, Baltimore
Friday cruises, 6 p.m.; City Lights cruises, Saturdays and some Sundays, 7 or 8 p.m. April-October
$25 for adults
410-268-7600, cruisesonthebay.com

 Sunset cruise woodwind 2 WSet sail in Annapolis

Either the schooner Woodwind or Woodwind II embark on a two-hour sunset cruise into the bay and back from Annapolis every night (weather permitting) between April and early October.

“We’re lucky in Annapolis because the sun sets right on our city skyline,” says schooner Woodwind Captain Jennifer Kaye. “That is one of the neatest views. It’s spectacular.”

Weeknight cruises have a different theme each night including “History Mondays,” Tuesday beer tastings and acoustic music on Thursdays. Guests can also purchase drinks from the bar on board the the 74-foot schooners.

Departs from Pusser’s Caribbean Grille at the Annapolis Waterfront Hotel, 80 Compromise St.
5:30 or 6:30 p.m. nightly
$46 for adults
410-263-7837, schoonerwoodwind.com

Cruise through history

The Wm. B. Tennison, a traditional Chesapeake Bay wooden workboat that can carry 40 passengers, takes daily cruises from the dock at the Calvert Marine Museum. A few evenings a year, the boat heads out for a special sunset supper excursion. The a 90-minute cruise features a guided tour of historic homes, battle sites and other landmarks, and is led by historian and museum educator Coby Treadway.

Guests can bring their own drinks and snack on appetizers that are provided. After the cruise, everyone heads into the museum for a short presentation and a light supper.

Departs from Calvert Marine Museum, 14200 Solomons Island Road, Solomons
5 p.m. June 17, Aug. 5, Sept. 2
$50
410-326-2042 x 15, calvertmarinemuseum.com

Float down the Miles River

The historic Winnie Estelle, which operates out of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michael’s, can be reserved for private sunset cruises.

The 1920 buyboat, built by native Smith Islander Noah T. Evans, was designed to ship fish and oysters to city markets. Today, the Winnie Estelle runs daytime cruises from May to October. Guests who reserve the vessel for a private sunset cruise are welcome to bring their own food and drinks, and request an educational tour of the area.

“It’s a unique opportunity to be aboard a historic Chesapeake boat for an authentic experience on the Miles River,” says Tracey Johns, the museum’s vice president of communications. “Winne’s wide decks, once used for hauling oysters and produce, are perfect for private, intimate cruises.”

Departs from the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, 213 North Talbot Street, St. Michaels
Sunset cruises are by private reservation only
Other cruises, $3-$10 plus museum admission
410-745-4944, cbmm.org

By Kit Waskom Pollard

Photos by Capt. Jennifer Kaye, courtesy of schooner Woodwind.

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