by Kris Ankarlo

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WNEW) — As the cobblestones and bricks of Annapolis have stood the test of time, there is one substance of even more historic importance to Maryland’s capital city: water.

The Chesapeake, and more importantly the contours of the Bay, are the reason Annapolis exists as it does. As such, the water is the best place to take in the city. And the Harbor Queen offers a quick and easy way to get out on the water.

“What makes Annapolis special is the beautiful historic seaport and that it’s living history,” says Katie Pierson, marketing specialist for Watermark, the company that operates the Harbor Queen.

The 40-minute cruise will take you out through the harbor, along to where the Severn River meets the Chesapeake Bay. A recorded narration will pump you full of Annapolitan factoids. You won’t find the same passion of storytelling as with the walking tours, but it’s effective in learning the lay of the land and sea from the Naval Academy to the Bay Bridge.

In the peak summer season of May to September, the Harbor Queen departs every hour on the hour. During the week it runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. On weekends and holidays it operates from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“We kind of call it a must-do Annapolis activity; everyone knows and loves Harbor Queen,” says Pierson.

There’s no need to pre-book your tickets, Pierson says — you can buy the tickets at the waterfront, just look for the bright red umbrella at City Dock at the end of Ego Alley.

“You learn the history of Annapolis and the Naval Academy and you go out through the harbor all the way towards the Chesapeake Bay Bridge,” says Pierson. “You get a really nice view of the bridge and then back around, and there’s a bar on board so you can have a drink while you’re there and some snacks. And there are restrooms on board as well.”

As many of the Harbor Queen cruises run in the middle of the day, it’s a good idea to grab a seat on the lower level. As alluring as the topside might be for views and photos, nothing’s quite as nice as a Chesapeake Bay breeze whipping through the decks to cool you off on a sweltering day. And you’re closer to the bar … win, win.

The cruise is weather dependent, so if storms are moving through the area don’t be surprised if a tour is cancelled. But, because they are offered every hour it’s easy enough to cruise at another time.

Watermark also offers tours of Spa Creek on the Miss Anne. This cruise is also 40 minutes, although it’s a much smaller boat so expect a more intimate experience. From the houses and docks lining the banks to the restaurants of Eastport, the Miss Anne offers a deeper glimpse into the daily life of Annapolis.

There are also 90-minute cruises that will take you under the spans of the Bay Bridge or down to the Thomas Point Lighthouse. And if you’re fully committed to a cruise day, Watermark also offers an itinerary to St. Michaels and back.

Regardless of how you end up on the water remember to bring sunscreen and cash.

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