Ahoy! What better way to experience the Hudson Valley than from the river itself — gliding past the stately mansions, riverside communities, and picturesque Catskill mountains? This year there is a new ship sailing out of Saugerties. Up to six guests can hop aboard the 44-foot-long, three-sailed Ophira for brunch, lunch, and sunset cruises. Popular destinations include the Saugerties lighthouse, Kingston’s waterfront district, and historic Catskill Point — but Captain Nicholas DeBonis can customize your cruise to include other local landmarks. You can choose to pack your own picnic or have your voyage catered by a local chef. And if just relaxing aboard a sailboat isn’t enough for you, the Ophira offers private sailing lessons and a youth sailing school for children ages eight through 18.
“Sailing is a really big activity on the Hudson,” says DeBonis, an active member of the Kingston Sailing Club. “We have a pretty large sailing community, and we’re looking to draw people to Saugerties for sailing.” Two-and-a-half-hour chartered trips on the Ophira range from $90-$175 per guest; sailing lessons cost $30-$35 per hour. Starting this month, cruises will set sail on weekends and weekdays by reservation. Tidbit: During the winter months, the Ophira operates as charter boat in the Caribbean (which is a 10-14 day journey from Saugerties).
Ophira Hudson River Cruises, Saugerties. 845-750-0665; www.ophirasailing.com
Hudson River Cruises, Kingston
The Rip Van Winkle has a lot on tap this summer, including beer samplings from Keegan Ales. The new Brew and Barbecue cruises (June 21 and September 20) feature a buffet-style dinner from Joe Beez Famous Sandwiches in Kingston and the aforementioned beer samplings — all for $40. Music cruises kick off on July 4 and continue throughout the summer. One- and two-hour sightseeing cruises take place Tuesdays through Sundays; Kids Kruises — complete with a DJ and magician — set sail on July 11 and August 8. 845-340-4700; www.hudsonrivercruises.com
River Rose Tours and Cruises, Newburgh
This authentic Mississippi paddle wheeler takes riders past Bannerman’s Castle, West Point, and other iconic Valley sites, all accompanied by a narrated history of the area. The River Rose also offers Sunday brunch, dinner, and dance party cruises. 845-562-1067; www.riverrosecruises.com
Empire State Cruise Lines, Poughkeepsie
Setting sail this summer: the Sunset Wine Cruise, complete with samples from Robibero Family Vineyards in New Paltz. If a three-course meal is more your style, check out the line’s two-and-a-half-hour dinner cruise, which departs from Waryas Park in Poughkeepsie and travels past the picturesque mansions lining the Hudson. For family fun, take a morning or afternoon sightseeing cruise on the double-decker vessel Mystère. 845-478-6396; www.empirecruiselines.com
Hudson Cruises, Hudson
Hop aboard the double-decker Spirit of the Hudson or the cozy Little Spirit of the Hudson paddle wheeler — with room for just 15 passengers — for a Friday evening dance party, Sunday jazz cruise, or customized sightseeing trip. The company also offers tours to the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse. 518-822-1014; www.hudsoncruises.com
Hudson River Adventures, Newburgh
Take a two-hour narrated sightseeing cruise on either the Pride of the Hudson or the Pollepel, each with a stocked bar and snack bar. Check out the sunset cruise, which features relaxing music and specialty cocktails. 845-220-2120; www.prideofthehudson.com