We have enjoyed several lunch and dinner cruises, and they all sail on the Allegheny and Ohio, ignoring the Mon east of the Clipper dock. I resist for a while because I think the hourly cruise is just for kids--after all, it’s called "Good Ship Lollipop!" Then it hits me! How can a cruise that runs every hour, all day, seven days, fill up with kids? What else do we have planned to do, anyway? Gateway Clipper’s misnomer is apparent when we board and find no tots or clowns on this boat. We do get a lollipop, though, when we depart.
I have to wonder if more adults would buy tickets for these hourly sailings if the Clipper Fleet would change the name. Don’t let it confuse you. There is a fairly well-stocked bar with bartender on duty! Snacks are also available for purchase. Schedules are at their website. The boat was not crowded on a Friday afternoon in June.
Every visitor to Pittsburgh should take one of Clipper’s many trips up the rivers. Although I recommend dining cruises, this one will get you out on the water to see Pittsburgh from a new perspective. You'll see all of downtown and corporate North Shore from the Monongahela and Allegheny. Three decks give you the choice of indoors with air-conditioning or outside in the sun. It’s part of learning your way around--you’ll see how downtown and the Northside are laid out.
The boat turns around just past Smithfield Street Bridge, designed by John Roebling, famous for his Brooklyn Bridge.
Narration conveys that this is the forty-seventh season for the Gateway Clipper Fleet, a Pittsburgh institution.
I always appreciate the fountain at Point State Park.
Today, it has pink "eyelashes"--created, no doubt, by an enterprising artist for Three River Arts Festival. It is fed by the city’s fourth river, the Wisconsin Glacial Flow, forty feet underground. If it were fed by the Mon, alluvial silt would clog the jets! When it's turned up, we see one of the tallest fountains in the country at 150 feet, but it's "smart" and lays low in the wind.
Bridges parade overhead: Fort Pitt, Fort Duquesne, Roberto Clemente, Andy Warhol, Veterans.
Returning, we get close to the submarine docked beside Carnegie Science Center.
You can’t go wrong with a sightseeing cruise. Back on the dock, we watch catfish--no ducks today!
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From journal Three Rivers: Stages for Empires and Arts
July 2, 2003
"Sewanee River" with banjo and horn is fine with me on a sunny afternoon, so we
decided on the "Chic’n Ribs" Dixieland Cruise, the Saturday luncheon event on the riverboat "Majestic." This cruise and the Tuesday and Thursday dinner versions are offered each week all summer through September and can be viewed along with all the other options at www.gatewayclipper.com.
Fort Pitt Tunnel was closed this Saturday in June, so we took the West End exit off I-279, followed the signs to Station Square, parked in Sheraton’s garage, and walked to the dock to the left of the hotel. A crowd at tables on the large dock were being entertained by a calypso band. We listened and watched ducks and fish in the Monongahela. A loudspeaker announced that the Majestic was ready for boarding. As we entered the great double-decker diningroom, the 2-man band began. These musicians were much better than typical sightseeing entertainment. They played until the narration began and then again after lunch on the sundeck.
The aroma of sweet barbecue sauce filled the great cabin. We enjoyed honey-smoked pork ribs and whole chicken legs, plus red-skinned potatoes, corn-on-the-cob, jambalaya rice, corn muffins, and more. Dessert was apple cobbler. Waiters delivered large carafes of coffee and tea and drinks and wine from the bar. It was a Southern riverboat feast, and the party atmosphere was contagious. We became friends with our table partners and moved to the sundeck.
As with every Clipper cruise, we disembarked with greater knowledge and appreciation of our favorite city; then we hurried to see up close the new Bessemer Court. Ever see a Bessemer converter? Follow me. (See entry.)
From journal Pittsburgh's South Side: Shopping, Dining, Theater
November 5, 2002
My sister and I decided to take the lunch cruise with Irish singer Cahal Dunne. We boarded the three-story ship with perhaps three-hundred others and were lead to our assigned table for two. We sauntered up to the top deck for some sun and were back when the narration began. Each building in the skyline and each bridge--there are so many!--acquired new meaning. The importance of this city to American industry became clear.
Interesting as it was, we were glad when we were waved to the buffet--not quite the grand gala of a ship on the ocean, but this trip was $26. The menu was nothing to complain about: salad with champagne vinaigrette, garlic-crusted chicken breast with parmigiana cream sauce, rice pilaf, steamed green beans with diced tomatoes, and more. Everything was good and healthy. As I said, the Clipper fleet has changed!
Irish singer Cahal Dunne has a beautiful voice and funny stories. Some people danced. We even bought the photograph taken at boarding, since it was absolutely flattering. The best part was seeing the Pittsburgh waterfront from the river--I would have to do it again after dark.
Two weeks later, I summoned up a friend for the Saturday night trip--same itinerary, even better buffet with spinach-stuffed chicken breast, different narrator, greater price: $44. This time we were seated with two other couples. I wasn’t surprised to hear one of them exclaim, "I came to college here 30 years ago and never left." Like me, he couldn’t stay away from Pittsburgh! The dance band was good. Most notable was the skyline at night. As the boat started up the Allegheny, bridge after bridge came into view, all historic with stories, all painted yellow, glistening gold as the light withered.
Our course continued down the Ohio past a
prison, Neville Island, where Bruce Willis’s shootout was filmed, and Station Square. I’ll visit the website to check out the fall foliage, Thanksgiving, Christmas lights, New Years, and lock-n-dam sightseeing cruises: www.gatewayclipper.com.
December 4, 2000
The tours by boat will be slow and enjoyable with a lot of seeing of Pittsburgh.
The food is good too.
Their phone number is 412-355-7980
The boats have a catwalk around each one for more personal viewing and quietness.
From journal Pittsburgh- Land of Opportunities