We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.


Essex River Cruises & Charters
Ranked #1 of 11 things to do in Essex
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: "Enjoy a scenic river excursion that captures the essence of New England " -Boston Globe. 1 1/2 hour narrated cruises, along the calm waters of the Essex River. Glide back in time, past islands, dunes & beaches formed by glaciers. See historic mansions, shipyards, saltmarsh farms, rare birds, wildlife, and stunning scenery. Charters &Clambakes. Restroom onboard, free parking, handicaped accessible, cards taken, and bar available. We also specialize in customizable private charters, perfect for corporate outings, birthdays, weddings, celebrations, and family reunions. Our private events range from New England Clambakes or BBQs on secluded tidal beaches to cocktail cruises. All charters are unique and planned your way with a variety of catering and bar options.
Reviewed 19 September 2013

Anyone spending time in the Cape Ann area and seeing signs for the Essex River Cruises & Charters might think that the cruises being advertised were for large vessels under sail. Considering the fact that the locale has a long and storied history of building ships such as schooners, that’s an easy conclusion to reach. However, that supposition is dispelled quickly when one sees the flat bottomed, canopy-covered, pontoon-type boat which provides the public cruises. The Essex River Queen (not a close cousin to Bogie’s “African Queen”) is a sturdy, craft capable of seating perhaps 20-30 passengers comfortably.

What makes this cruise so enjoyable is the ease of the trip: boarding, getting seated, exiting (and later returning to) the marina, good visibility from all seats, no high seas to contend with (save for some frothy chop stirred up by twin Mercury fuel efficient outboard motors), and a remarkable display of scenery, wildlife, beach dunes, and island dwellings. The general direction of the cruise is through the greenbelt and the marshlands and then out towards (but not actually to) the sea. The beach and dunes provide a natural barrier for this fresh water river.

On my cruise, I and fellow passengers were treated to a very enjoyable and informative commentary by young captain Dylan who handled the controls of the boat most competently while juggling a microphone for his narrative of local history and natural wildlife. His remarks were occasionally interspersed with some great PG rated humor which kept those on board chuckling or guffawing. Everyone seemed to appreciate his explanation of the restroom (the “head”), its small size and location below deck. A round of laughter ensued when he cautioned everyone that because of these factors, ladies could only use the head one at a time and not in a group. Later his shaggy dog tale of how he ended up as a clam digger and taster for a film crew doing a documentary on the area was worthy of any comedy club routine.

There were sightings of egrets, great blue herons, and other shore birds. Many of the islands in the Essex River area had visible dwellings dating back to some of the early settlers. The presence of such dwellings – and in some cases remnants of foundations – on the islands and peninsulas added to the allure of the river and its history.

There are generally three 90 minutes cruises a day from May through October. Special charter cruises can be arranged to suit almost any type of function within reason. The Essex River Cruises are really worth the time and effort to distance oneself from the “mainland” if just for an hour and a half. Getting away from the “madding crowd” and meandering the winding course of the river is highly recommended.

1  Thank Hoosiergadabout
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Write a ReviewReviews (235)
Traveller rating
Traveller type
Time of year
All reviews
"river cruise"
in 19 reviews
"high tide"
in 18 reviews
"shore birds"
in 4 reviews
"nice cruise"
in 5 reviews
"porta potty"
in 5 reviews
"beautiful summer day"
in 3 reviews
"hot cider"
in 3 reviews
"salt marsh"
in 5 reviews
"enjoy the beauty"
in 3 reviews
"different perspective"
in 4 reviews
"crane beach"
in 7 reviews
"relaxing trip"
in 3 reviews
"north shore"
in 13 reviews
"bug spray"
in 5 reviews
"local history"
in 7 reviews
"beautiful scenery"
in 8 reviews
"boat captain"
in 4 reviews

193 - 197 of 235 reviews

Reviewed 18 September 2013

The day was overcast and a little cool but the ride was very interesting none the less. Our captain shared some interesting tidbits of information.

Thank Joyce C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 September 2013

We weren't sure what the boat tour would be like or whether the rain was going to hold off until we were back on land, but everything was just perfect on a Friday in September. Dylan was an excellent guide and driver and knew the history, geography, birds and lore of the land around us which made for a very interesting trip up the river towards the Atlantic Ocean when it was low tide. I got some amazing photos of Great Blue Herons, vacant houseboats, distant shot of the Crane mansion in Ipswich and even a peddle-sailboat dragging a person on a paddleboard who did a good job of staying on through our boat's wake!

Thank abcady
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 September 2013

Enjoyed our afternoon cruise through the Essex harbor. Crew was friendly and informative. Boat was clean. 1 1/2 trip was just enough.

Thank Nancy8041
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
See more reviews
Reviewed 29 August 2013

Cruise through the river flats prior to reaching the Atlantic. We went out about 2 hours after low tide and it was amazing to see how much the river rose from start to finish. Our guide was not very personable or animated as others have noted, but did have some interesting history of the homes, the movie the Crucible and the Castle Hill mansion. You could see clammers working the tide. He explained the separation of the river into territories for Ipswich, Essex and Gloucester beds. The most interesting part to us was the Narrows and the homes near there. Some SUP'ers and MANY kayakers in river as well other boats heading out to fish the open ocean. Captain had onboard spray for the nasty midges buzzing our heads! We had a cloudless perfect summer day which influences our experience. It was certainly a relaxing way to spend 1 1/2 hours in a scenic area.

Thank deed57
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

Travellers who viewed Essex River Cruises & Charters also viewed


Been to Essex River Cruises & Charters? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing