Since I’m on a much-needed vacation, my son and I wanted to do something we had never done together. We Googled things to do, and I found this Family Pirate theme on the Colonial Belle. He and I both enjoy pirates, and we enjoy boats… WE’RE IN!
About the Colonial Belle
The Colonial Belle is a small cruise line established in 1989 that tours the Erie Canal from Packett’s Landing in Fairport, NY, to the lock at Pittsford, NY and back. The boat can hold up to 149 passengers, with an upper and lower deck. The lower deck includes a bar, snacks and beverages for its passengers. No outside food or beverages are allowed. They do have dinner cruises as well, per their website, as well as other fun family events.
When we first arrived, the first thing we noticed was that nobody, and I mean nobody else was dressed like a pirate. Being an introvert, this is the single-most-disturbing thing that happened on the trip. We were all set up for disappointment, with lots of eyeballs directed at us, when we noticed the crew return from the Employees-Only parts of the vessel, and they were wearing pirate hats.
Boarding didn’t take long—the crew made sure of that. Holden and I wandered quickly to the upper deck and took some seats at the back of the boat. More eyes on us. Great. We peered out over the water and watched it ripple around the boat. The rails on the upper deck are quite high, so it was difficult to take any good shots with my camera.
Once we were afloat, we decided to visit the lower deck and check out their snack selection. They had a variety of chips and cookies, as well as pretty much any beverage you could want. The seating on the lower deck is more extensive, with round dining tables and benches along the perimeter. There is a small restroom, which was well-stocked with toilet paper and hand soap, with a working sink. It was also clean and tidy, considering how many passengers they had.
From below, I was able to take a few nice shots of some bridges and other boats. I could clearly hear the captain making some announcements from the upper deck. He was prompt with warnings, making sure everyone on the upper deck was seated well before passing under a low bridge. The crew would occasionally warn people to put their hands down when they were unable to suppress their thrill-seeking desires.
The lock was our favorite part. Once we arrived at the lock, it was interesting to see the crew members in action. They closed down the lower deck bar during the lock process. They have to wait for a green light to enter the lock, and once they have the okay, they proceed into it, which basically looks like a huge tank. Here’s a link to a website to explain better how the locks operate and what the crew has to do.
They have to keep the boat close to the wall using some cables installed directly into the lock’s walls. The boat had these ropes they tied through the cables to keep the boat in place as we raised up. Once the water is at the appropriate level, the doors open and the boat can proceed out of the lock. In this case, the doors were leaking. The captain informed us that this is not supposed to happen, but it has been this way for “a few years.”
After the locks, we basically did a boat K-turn, headed back into the lock, and did the same thing in reverse. Cruising back to Pittsford took much less time due to the direction of the current. Unfortunately, this was about the time where we started to feel a bit of motion sickness. We made it back to Fairport safely, however, around 5:40 pm, and Holden and I were happy to get out of our pirate costumes.
Overall, it was a good day, and we definitely enjoyed the cruise. The captain and crew were very professional and pleasant, and we will cruise with them again in the future—perhaps at the next themed event: The Murder Mystery Tour!