Few events are as luxurious and enjoyable as a day cruise. Sailing in comfort, with your every need met by attentive crewmembers, reminds you life really is meant to be enjoyed. Below are five of the most memorable day cruises in the United States, including natural wonders and twinkling city skylines.
Na Pali Cruises (Kauai)
Kauai, also known as Hawaii's Garden Island, offers stunning catamaran cruises up the north side of the island along the na Pali cliffs. In addition to the majesty of the cliffs, cruise passengers can see spinner dolphins, sea turtles and humpback whales.
The best time to whale watch on a na Pali cruise is between November and March. Morning cruises are more likely to encounter dolphins, while evening cruises offer the romance of a champagne sunset at sea.
If the channel lying between Kauai and Niihau is calm, catamarans may sail by Hawaii's privately owned Forbidden Island and visit the incredible snorkeling opportunities of Lehua Rock, a submerged and extinct volcanic crater just off Niihau.
San Francisco city tours are always a delight, and the city offers elegant and cosmopolitan dining and shopping opportunities. A Bay boat cruise is one of the best ways to see San Francisco's beautiful skyline and fully appreciate the Golden Gate Bridge. Seeing the skyline from the Bay at night should not be missed.
History buffs will enjoy Alcatraz cruises, taking you to (and inside) the historical prison, which remains one of the most notorious correctional institutions in North American history.
On the other side of the country, New York cruises offer a unique perspective on the Big Apple. View more than 100 different attractions from the water, or watch the city lights on a nighttime cruise of the Hudson River.
Puget Sound and the San Juan islands offer wonderful cruises for animal lovers. The Sound includes hundreds of uninhabited islands and is home to sea lions, killer whales, hawks, eagles, whales and porpoises.
Cruises range in size from larger boats for those who love comfort to small, speedy zodiacs for a close-to-the-water experience.
We started this list in Hawaii's tropical waters, so perhaps it's appropriate to end with a cruise to Alaska's Glacier Bay. Riding in comfort in a heated catamaran, passengers on a Glacier Bay Day Cruise view the Bay's massive glaciers and mountains.
You'll likely see marine life on your cruise, including horned narwhales, but the real attraction is the glaciers. If you're lucky, you'll have the eerie experience of watching a glacier calve, when a large chunk of ice shears off and hits the water with a thunderous smash. Experiencing the birth of an iceberg is a humbling, thrilling experience.