Biking and beer go together well on a BayCycle Cruise around Casco Bay. Photo courtesy of Maine BayCycle

To cruise or not to cruise? That is not the question.

The question is how to cruise. Here in southern Maine, there are about as many answers to that query as there are fish in the sea. No matter what you’re into, there’s a probably a way for you to kick back and enjoy it on the water.

There are cruises on Casco Bay with live concerts, where revelers dance to the music. There’s a pedal boat cruise, where patrons pedal the craft themselves while enjoying a libation. There’s a wine-tasting sailing cruise out of Portland, with a sommelier on board. Below, we’ve gathered details on a smattering of some of the various themed boat cruises on southern Maine waters this summer.

PEDAL POWER

If you want to get some exercise, but not too much, while enjoying a beer on the water, try Maine BayCycle. The small, covered boat has 10 pedal stations, basically seats at two bars facing each other. People are invited to bring their own beer, wine, food or soft drinks and music. So you can basically sit at the bar, drink in the scenery and have a few actual drinks. The age 21-plus cruises are 90 minutes, and because pedal power is not especially fast, the cruise goes from Bell Buoy Park on Commercial Street to a little ways past the Casco Bay Bridge and back. If people don’t want to pedal, they don’t have to. “I have groups that work at it for the full 90 minutes and others that pedal a few strokes and then it turns into a dance party,” said Neil Kinner, Maine BayCycle’s owner. The cost is $35, and cruises depart most days at 1, 3, 5 and 7 p.m. For the schedule and more information, go to mainebaycycle.com.

Fine wines with a sommelier are offered on Wine Wise’s sailing cruises in Casco Bay. Photo courtesy of Wine Wise

WATER AND WINE

Sommelier Erica Archer of Wine Wise hosts wine sailing cruises aboard the Frances, a 74-foot Windjammer, which leaves from near the Maine State Pier in Portland. The sails happen several times a week into the fall and are on different days at different times, often focusing on a different kind of wine. On Saturday, for instance, there’s one from 6-8 p.m. featuring Loire Valley wines and one Sunday featuring wine and food from the chefs of Portland restaurant Chaval. There are several scheduled between those two, but they are sold out, so it’s a good idea to book ahead. Prices are $85 for a cruise that features wine with cheese and fruit, $105 to $115 for the oyster and wine pairings, and $115 to $120 for the chef series, featuring five courses paired with five wines. The ship takes 42 passengers. Many of the sails are at sunset. For a schedule of cruises and more information, go to winewiseevents.com.

Revelers on one of Casablanca Cruises’ concert cruises out of Portland. Photo courtesy of Casablanca Cruises

ROCKIN’ THE BOAT

In summer, music fans want to get out of stuffy nightclubs and enjoy a show in the open air. For Mainers, there’s also the chance to see live music out on the open waters of Casco Bay. Casablanca Cruises and Casco Bay Lines are two companies offering concert cruises all summer long, and both leave from near the Maine State Pier off Commercial Street. The Casablanca cruises are about three hours and many start around 7 p.m., so they can be sort of an after-dinner thing. Most are about $20 per person and include regional or local acts, like Scolded Dogs on Friday. But many in the next month or so are already sold out. The Pat Foley Band and Dr. Boogie are among the artists who’ll play the cruises in August. Light snacks, like hot dogs, are sold on board. For a schedule and more information, go to casablancamaine.com.

Casco Bay Lines has a summer-long schedule of shows, too, with a cash bar on board, so you have to be 21 or older. Some of the cruises include well-known Maine acts, like evening shows by The Pete Kilpatrick Band on July 18 and Anna Lombard on Aug. 15. Both are $20 and both are sponsored by radio station WCLZ. Other upcoming concert cruises include Wavelength (classic dance music) on July 19, The Hurricanes (rock) on Aug. 9 and the Don Campbell Band (country and rock) on Sept. 7. Prices range from about $15 to $25 for most shows. For a schedule and more information, go to cascobaylines.com.

Hover Maine offers hovercraft tours around Casco Bay. Photo courtesy of Hover Maine

NOT FULL OF EELS

Monty Python fans, here’s a chance to finally ride in a hovercraft – though it’s not full of eels, as a famous comedy sketch by the group would have us believe. Hover Maine offers tours of Casco Bay and a few nearby waterways out of Fore Point Marina on Fore Street in Portland. Unlike other boat tours, with a hovercraft your captain can take you right up onto a beach, since the boat actually hovers above the water or land. The basic one-hour tour starts at $60 and takes in areas around Peaks Island, Cushing Island, Fort Gorges, Spring Point, Long Island and the coast of Falmouth. The craft also goes up the Fore River as far as Stroudwater and into Back Cove. Seals, osprey and eagles can be spotted. The capacity of the hovercraft is six people, so it’s intimate, and people can bring snacks to enjoy on one of the beaches where the craft will land. Tours leave about four times a day. For a schedule and more information, go to hovermaine.com.

TAKE ME TO THE RIVER

The 49-passenger River Tripper, run by Damariscotta River Cruises, lets you explore the sights, sounds and tastes of midcoast Maine.  Several kinds of cruises run throughout the summer from the dock off Main Street in Damariscotta and all are about 2 hours. There’s the daily oyster farms and seal watching tour, which is $31 for adults and $16 for children. There are late-afternoon oyster and wine tasting or oyster and beer tasting cruises for $70, which also go by local oyster farms. And there’s a happy hour/sunset cruise most days. For a schedule and more information, go to damariscottarivercruises.com.

Damariscotta River Cruises offer oyster, beer and wine tastings, plus tours of oyster farms. Photo courtesy of Damariscotta River Cruises

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