One of Washington DC’s most overlooked features is its waterways. At the confluence of the Potomac and Anacostia rivers, the ribbon of water widens considerably as it heads towards the Atlantic, with the former river easily visible from behind the Lincoln Memorial. And all that walking along the National Mall can be hungry, thirsty work. Luckily there’s a type of tour in Washington that can solve that problem while allowing you to continue sightseeing. If you head roughly a mile south of the National Mall, you’ll reach the Wharf Marina from which beautiful ships set out onto the river to offer a fresh perspective on DC.
Special dinner cruises are one of the most popular forms of river tours to take in Washington DC. There are a few to choose from, all of which offer competitive prices and delicious buffets. Vegetarians and vegans may not have the best choice however on these tours due to the buffet style of the spread, although for the sweet tooth out there, that matters little as the dessert buffet is where the action is at. Here are our favorite three dinner cruises to take in Washington DC, after looking into a number of different considerations like the food quality, safety on board, duration and value for money.
FROM: $99/per person
At the end of a long day, one of the best ways to unwind is with dinner and dancing aboard this beautiful, five-deck luxury yacht. The three-hour dinner cruise heads for the Potomac just as the sun is setting so that you can enjoy the Washington DC skyline at golden hour. Meanwhile there’s an all you can eat buffet which consists of various salads, meat-based entrées, and delicious pasta dishes. There’s also a fine dessert buffet. But don’t eat too much because there’s also a dancefloor and a DJ to set the tone for the rest of the evening. If dancing’s not your thing, the head to the top deck and watch the city glide by as night falls.
From $100/ per person
Though similar to the previous dinner tour along the Potomac, what helps this cruise aboard the Odyssey stand out is the three-course dinner aspect. Rather than wrestling over the buffet, have the courses served right to your table, set next to the glass atrium windows that offer the perfect view of Washington DC as you dine. See sights like the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument from the comfort of your seat, along with unlimited coffee, tea and water. Other beverages are available for an additional fee. There is also an open air observation deck as well as a dance floor for later in the evening. As with the other tours, the options among the entrées all seem to contain meat at the time of writing, although this may hopefully improve in future.
From $80/ per person
Back aboard the Spirit of Washington for a slight cheat of the rules for this final entry, we look at one alternative to the dinner cruise: the lunchtime version. This shorter, better value option includes a buffet lunch, coffee and tea, and a DJ spinning the latest hits. You’ll also get commentary from the captain about the landmarks passed along the way, with a little added historical significance thrown in. That way you can still sightsee as you dine. There’s also an onboard bar selling alcoholic beverages for an additional fee. This tour usually lasts for around two hours.