As you know, I am dedicating this month to bringing you ideas that fit the theme of the fall harvest and Halloween but aren’t necessarily about Pumpkin Patches. I am flirting with becoming the Scrooge of the Pumpkin Patch. And I am okay with that. Today I bring you the Great Tale of 2 Pirate Ships of October 2011. A close friend made plans with me to take our kids on “the pirate ship” together. We started making these plans weeks ago. In fact, we were originally supposed to set sail a week ago Sunday but the weather seemed iffy so we both called “the pirate ship” and rescheduled our departure time to Sunday October 2 at 9:30am. We were psyched to experience “the pirate ship” together. So bright and early yesterday we bundled up the kids, sent each other a few witty emails and headed off to “the pirate ship.”
Me, husband and children arrived around 8:55am. The girls were given pirate tattoos, including one child who came away with a pink goatee. She made for a very ruthless looking pirate. My one agreeable child dressed up in the pirate clothes they offer the kids. My other less agreeable child refused all pirate wear but agreed to her designated pirate name and a mermaid tattoo. The clock kept ticking and I kept wondering what in the world was taking my friend so long to arrive. Frankly it was stressing me out.
Suddenly we were all boarding the boat, the boat was ready to leave and I’m scrambling to tell them that my friend and her children must be running late. They hold the boat for a few minutes. I send her some desperate emails. Boat departs. I am fretting over the high stakes drama she will be dealing with when her two kids realize they have missed “THE PIRATE BOAT.” The pirates on-board are riled up and excited to hunt for Treasure and find that scoundrel Pirate Pete who was lingering somewhere out in the Chesapeake Bay, circling Annapolis, when my phone rings.
“Is it possible we are on two different pirate boats?” asks the voice on the other end.
I look around. I see no other pirate boats. I ask her where she is.
“In Baltimore, at Urban Pirate,” she says.
“Ummm…..we are in Annapolis at Chesapeake Pirate.”
And so, when making plans with friends to take the kids to “the pirate boat,” remember that there are TWO options in our area and it’s best to specify where in Maryland you will be wreaking havoc on the waterways….
This hilarious mistake makes you, my dear reader, the winner because now you get not one but TWO pirate boat reviews. That gives you TWO chances to schedule an activity OTHER than suffering in an overcrowded pumpkin patch while still feeling like your children are getting a fabulous fall experience.
First up, Chesapeake Pirate in Annapolis, my pirate destination du jour. This was our second time taking the trip around the beautiful Bay with this group and we loved it just as much. Our youngest has a penchant for all things Pirate so it seemed obvious that the time was right to go again, and though the last time we went it was a warm sunny September day, we still loved it yesterday under the chilly gray skies.
True, the views of the Bay Bridge weren’t as amazing as on a sunny day but sailing around the Chesapeake for an hour can never get old and is just good for the soul, in my opinion. Chesapeake Pirates employs a team of energetic, creative and silly actors to entertain the kids for the hour-long sail. Immediately upon arriving at their store, the kids are given their appointed pirate name, encouraged to put on a pirate vest, pick out a tatoo or face painting option and then are school in pirate-speak before boarding the ship.
Once on board, they are taken through a variety of dramatic adventures, starting with the hunt for treasure and Pirate Pete and then impaling him with as much water as possible from the water cannons, all in the vein of locating the treasure. The kids are encouraged to move quickly around deck and the ages yesterday ranged from 2 through probably 10 or 11. The interactive element was definitely better suited for my oldest daughter because she could keep up with all the older kids and really interact with the actors. Our youngest, who will be 3 next month, had trouble moving as fast around the boat and seeing all the action – but it didn’t seem to bother her and we helped her. The final exercise involves pulling Grog from the bay and having a celebratory toast after all the kids take turns picking a hand-full of treasure from the chest they’ve robbed from Pirate Pete. Chesapeake Pirate runs six times a day, the first boat sails at 9:30am and the last boat departs at 5pm. Tickets are $19 for adults and $12 for children, kids under 3 are free. I also noticed that they have birthday party packages, which seems like a great idea for any young pirate lovers out there. The boat sails through the end of October and then will start up again in April.
Next up, Urban Pirate in Baltimore. I haven’t yet experienced this trip but definitely want to get there after hearing my friend’s report. The two trips do sound pretty similar. Here’s what she had to say: “The kids loved it – my daughter was VERY SERIOUS and had a SCOWL on her face as she shot her pirate water cannon at the oncoming pirate (Mad Dog Mike – he had treasure fever). We were at sea for an hour. Tattoos, attire, all the fixin’s (scars, mustaches) all applied before we left. Got to see aquarium and lots of other stuff from the water. The kids were involved – they had to do 4 things to become a pirate – dance, limbo, shoot the cannons, and one other thing – it was so fun. And they had a restroom with a place to change diapers. And it was clean. And I was grateful.”
Note – she has an 18 month old – so this is a critical point for anyone traveling to these boat trips with babies. Chesapeake Pirate also has a clean bathroom in their store but I did not notice a baby changing station. Tickets for Baltimore’s Urban Pirate are $20 for adults and kids and $10 for children under 3. Boats also depart 6 times a day, beginning at 9:30am and ending at 5:30pm. My friend thinks they also stop the boat tours at the end of October – I would just call to find out.
Bottom line: I think you can’t go wrong with either one….just make your reservations in advance, mateys. Oh, and specify WHICH pirate boat you are headed too before meeting your friends and their kids….#fail.