Rock the Boat

Music fans looking to leave land behind can catch an offshore cruise that pair tunes with its tours. // Photography Courtesy of Traverse Tall Ship Co., LLC
Delikah DeWylde and The Lost Boys
Delilah DeWylde and The Lost Boys aboard the Nauti-Cat.

Now you can feel the rhythm of the airwaves as you rock, roll or glide across the water.

For a relaxing, upscale trip on the Detroit River, try a dinner cruise on board the Detroit Princess riverboat, a renovated 222-foot, multi-deck, former gambling vessel from Louisiana. Motown music by The Prolifics adds ambiance on weekends during a two-and-half hour excursion that embarks from Cobo Hall, cruises north to Belle Isle then heads south, circling under the Ambassador Bridge before returning back to port (

When the mood for plying the waters hits, take the family on one of the popular “Handy Billy” excursions, featuring sing-alongs about shipboard life and the Great Lakes. Launch from Lake St. Clair Metropark or Lake Erie Metropark on The Clinton, a repurposed fishing boat with a partially enclosed deck and open stern that seats 35. Cruises are made possible by Michigan Sea Grant, a cooperative venture of Michigan State University and University of Michigan, part of the National Sea Grant College Program (; click “Concert” under “Sorts Cruises By”).

The Nauti-Cat features a custom stage on the bow of the ship between the hulls.

Further upriver in the Blue Water Area, the modern 73-foot Huron Lady II with climate-controlled cabin below covered deck seating offers live music cruises featuring guitarist Denny Dwyer on June 21 and jazz performers Fifth Avenue on June 28. Both excursions leave the Port Huron dock at 7 p.m., journey into Lake Huron and cruise down the St. Clair River (

Book your seat on a two-hour dinner cruise of Lake Macatawa and, weather permitting, Lake Michigan, aboard the Holland Princess, a 65-foot, Victorian-style paddlewheel riverboat operating from Dunton Park in Holland. While “Captain’s Feast” dinner cruises aboard the double-decker boat include piped-in tunes and a cash bar, you can charter a private cruise and make your own music with the boat’s karaoke sound system (

Song of the Lakes on the Manitou
Song of the Lakes performs jigs and chanteys on the Tall Ship Manitou in Grand Traverse Bay, Traverse City.

Set sail in West Grand Traverse Bay aboard the 114-foot Tall Ship Manitou, a replica of an 1800s’ cargo schooner and one of the Great Lakes’ largest sailing vessels. For two hours on Wednesday evenings in July and August, you’ll ply the waters of Lake Michigan, hugged by the orchard-covered hillsides of two peninsulas: Traverse City’s Mission Peninsula to the east and Leelanau Peninsula to the west. Hear Great Lakes chanteys and jigs performed by region’s popular group, Song of the Lakes (;

The largest commercial sailing catamaran is just around the bend in West Grand Traverse Bay, docked at the Holiday Inn Resort. Forty-seven feet long and 29 feet wide, the Nauti-Cat features a custom stage on the bow of the ship between the hulls where multiple bands such as high-octane rockabilly favorites Delilah DeWylde and The Lost Boys enliven the ride on weekend nights from 10 p.m. to midnight. Newly added this season to the Cat’s full bar is a selection of Michigan microbrews (;

As the Detroit Princess folks like to say, “Don’t miss the boat!”

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