Escape at Will…on a cruise!! Water, water everywhere…if you’re traveling in the northeast, you’ll likely be near the ocean, a river, or lake. Take advantage of the opportunity to get out on the water by taking a cruise. By cruises, I don’t necessarily mean a seven-day itinerary on a behemoth ship headed out into the ocean blue, though there are now major cruise ports in cities up and down the northeast coast. A cruise can also be a rejuvenating afternoon excursion on a historic paddleboat on a nearby river or lake. For these shorter, regional aquatic excursions, here are some things to consider in the planning process to find the right experience for you. Find a cruise which fits your interest — Are you a marine biologist at heart? Go whale watching off the coast of Massachusetts or New Hampshire. If you’re a history buff, take a cruise within a heritage area, such as New York’s Hudson Valley, and you can learn from a narrated tour. If all you want to do is unplug and unwind, you might enjoy a “cruise to nowhere”on a larger ship out of NYC. Take matters into your own hands – If you’re a licensed boater, you can create your own cruise itinerary by chartering your own vessel. Pilot a houseboat along New York’s canal system, take a sail off Block Island, RI, or rent a powerboat in the Poconos. Make reservations early – Not every cruise company will take advance reservations, but if they do, make your reservations early for popular times of year, like leaf-peeping season. Ask about their refund policy before committing.You may not be able to get your money back if you have to cancel, but you may be able to change your dates. Consider value-added options – Make the most of your excursion by opting for the “extras” which may be offered. Dinner cruises combine sightseeing with a meal you would have to pay for separately on land. Taking your car on a ferry to cross a body of water makes the journey more than just getting from point “A” to point “B.” Know what’s expected of you – Are you going to be a passenger, or will you be expected to get “hands-on” and hoist the sails or set the lobster traps? Both experiences are fun, but very different. What time will you be expected on dock? Embarkation may begin long before the scheduled departure time. Will you be expected to tip the captain or deck hands? Know what’s included — Will food and drink be served, or available for sale, or will you need to bring your own on board? Are you guaranteed a seat, or is it “first come, first served?” Does your fee include a fuel surcharge, or is that extra? Photo and video equipment – Photo equipment is necessary, but it can be cumbersome. Consider the weight of your gear, and whether it’s weather-resistant. If you’re hoping to take photos of whales, birds, or other moving objects, learn about your camera beforehand so you know how to take those types of photos. Binoculars are also helpful to have on hand for bird-watching and sight-seeing. What to wear — Outerwear is important for keeping you dry and warm. In the warmer months, a lightweight, waterproof poncho is enough. Layering is a smart strategy during colder times of year. Deck shoes with treads or slip-resistant soles are the ideal footwear, or alternatively, sneakers in a water-resistant fabric. Stay healthy – If you’re prone to motion sickness, stock up on your remedy of choice, and take it far enough before departure for it to take effect. Wear sunscreen even on the cloudiest of days. Consider wearing a hat, and sunglasses with a neck cord, which will keep them from falling into the water. Learn about life jackets – Adult-sized life jackets should be available on your cruise vessel; ask ahead whether you’ll be required to wear it during your expedition. In most states, there are laws stipulating a minimum age that a child is required to wear a life jacket or personal flotation devices (PFD). State-by-state boating laws can be found here For a list of boat rentals, charters and companies, click here