Weathered red fishing huts on docks with crab pots & netting sitting over calm water, seen on Chesapeake Bay overnight cruises.
Great blue heron flies over water with wings fully extended & head & beak visible during Chesapeake Bay overnight cruises.
Short & stout, red & white Thomas Point Lighthouse sits on metal legs above the water under an orange sunset, seen on a Chesapeake Bay cruise.
2 men stand on deck of a small ship, photographing the sunset with long lenses on a Chesapeake Bay overnight cruise.
Reflections of marsh grasses & white clouds dot the waters of the shoreline, seen on Chesapeake Bay overnight cruises.
View Photos
North America East Coast Cruise

Wild Chesapeake Bay Escape: Waterways, Watermen & Wildlife

On these 6-day Chesapeake Bay overnight cruises, explore the remote coves and islands of America’s largest estuary, with 62-guest Nat Geo Sea Lion as your home base. Millions of people live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed area, but very few have ventured into its remote and silent backwaters. Here, thousands of animal and plant species co-exist in a fragile ecosystem that’s on the mend due to incredible conservation efforts. Blue crabs hide in underwater grasses, oystercatchers patrol the shores of uninhabited islands and small communities live off the bounty of the surrounding waters. Following in the paths of ancient native Algonquians and European explorers, including Giovanni da Verrazano and John Smith, kayak in tidal wetlands, creeks and wildlife refuges that are sanctuaries for nesting seabirds.

With nearly 12,000 miles of shoreline, Chesapeake Bay has many wild secrets to discover. Visit Smith Island and Tangier Island—some of the Chesapeake’s only inhabited islands—and discover the unique culture and history of the bay’s watermen. Paddleboard, kayak and ride Zodiacs along the tributaries, remote islands, inlets and coves of the Chesapeake. Learn about the delicate ecosystems of the Chesapeake and the work of conservation organizations dedicated to preserving the ecological balance of the bay. Experience the diversity of the birds of the Chesapeake—black skimmers and royal terns on the open water, snowy egrets, tricolored herons wading in the shallows and summer songbirds in bayside woodlands.

Board the small and nimble 62-guest National Geographic Sea Lion to delve into the wilderness of America’s largest estuary, sailing to the islands and wildlife refuges along Maryland’s Eastern Shore and Virginia’s Barrier Islands. Explore under the sure guidance of an expedition leader and five veteran naturalists, including a National Geographic certified photo instructor, plus a wellness specialist. The expedition staff’s knowledge and passion for the Chesapeake Bay is the key to this educational and dynamic cruise experience.

Read on for details about these Chesapeake Bay overnight cruises, or learn more about AdventureSmith’s East Coast cruises.



Itinerary

Wild Chesapeake Bay Escape: Waterways, Watermen & Wildlife Itinerary

These Chesapeake Bay overnight cruises operate round-trip from Annapolis, Maryland and reach as far as the mouth of the bay at Cape Charles.

Route map of Wild Chesapeake Bay Escape cruise, round-trip from Washington D.C. with ship embark & disembark in Annapolis, Maryland.
Read More
Day 1
Arrive Washington D.C., Transfer to Annapolis, Maryland & Embark

Arrive in the nation’s capital and transfer to the lovely waterside town of Annapolis, Maryland, where the ship awaits. Settle into your cabin and set sail in the early evening hours, cruising toward the Delmarva Peninsula, which separates the Chesapeake Bay from the Atlantic Ocean. On the way pass Poplar Island, the site of an innovative environmental restoration project.

Accommodations

National Geographic Sea Lion

Meals

dinner

Read More
Day 2
Smith Island

Anchor at Smith Island in the morning, just as local watermen make their way from the harbor out into bay in search of Maryland’s legendary soft shell crabs. Take a walking tour of the island’s main village and learn about the culture of the island’s community and the challenges they face as the forces of erosion continue to hammer at these sandy, marshy Chesapeake outposts. Set out by kayak this afternoon, exploring some of the many water trails that wind through and around Smith Island. Watch for ospreys and egrets, as well as colorful American oystercatchers, on the sandy beaches.

Accommodations

National Geographic Sea Lion

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 3
Cape Charles, Virginia & The Virginia Barrier Islands

Head to Cape Charles near the tip of the Delmarva Peninsula today and continue to the wild Virginia Barrier Islands which buffer the peninsula from the Atlantic Ocean. Enjoy a day of exploration in these islands, following nature’s cues and gliding into little-known back channels in Zodiacs. Depending on sea conditions, possibly stop to visit Cobb Island or the Mockhorn Island Wildlife Management Area.

Accommodations

National Geographic Sea Lion

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 4
Tangier Island

With a historic district that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Tangier Island harbors a community of crabbers and watermen that have been isolated from the mainland for nearly 250 years. Residents here developed a unique dialect, and a visit to the island takes us back in time. With community guides, discover the town by foot and golf cart while learning about local culture. Tangier Island is comprised almost entirely of salt marshes, which you can venture into by kayak this afternoon, watching for glossy ibis and other birdlife.

Accommodations

National Geographic Sea Lion

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 5
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge & Choptank River, Maryland

Known as the “Everglades of the North,” Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge was established in the 1930s as a waterfowl sanctuary for migrating species and has been internationally recognized for its ecological importance. Here, lowland forest borders tidal wetlands with areas of shallow, brackish water, and the three habitats draw a diverse range of birdlife—more than 250 species have been recorded. Spend the morning exploring the refuge, keeping an eye out for bald eagles and the Delmarva fox squirrel, a once endangered species whose recovery has largely happened within the refuge. In the afternoon, arrive at the mouth of the Choptank River. Kayak into its numerous tributaries and small creeks, discovering its calm backwaters.

Accommodations

National Geographic Sea Lion

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 6
Disembark Annapolis, Maryland, Transfer to Washington D.C. & Depart

Return to Annapolis this morning to disembark and transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Accommodations

n/a

Meals

breakfast

Read More
Details
Inclusions, Terms & Notes

Included

All accommodations aboard ship per itinerary; all meals as indicated; excursions; services of expedition leader, naturalist staff and expert guides; use of equipment; expedition fees; all port charges, service taxes and airport transfers to and from ship.

Exclusions

Immigration fees (if applicable); air transportation; extensions; personal items such as emails, laundry, voyage DVD, etc.; and insurance of any kind. Gratuities and alcoholic beverages excluded, except for all departures of National Geographic Explorer, Orion, Endurance, Resolution, Sea Cloud, Jahan and Lord of the Glens.

Payment & Cancellation

In order to confirm this trip, a deposit of $750 is required per person at time of booking. The balance of the trip price is due 90 days before the departure date. Special holiday payment and cancellation terms may apply. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. Standard cancellations are subject to the following per-person penalties, based on number of days prior to departure:
120 or more days – $350 of deposit retained (may be applied to future trip by trip operator)
119 to 90 days – 100% of deposit
89 to 60 days – 25% of total trip cost
59 to 45 days – 50% of total trip cost
44 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost

Terms & Conditions

This trip is subject to AdventureSmith Explorations Terms and Conditions. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A Traveler Information Form, which includes a release of liability, must be completed and signed by all travelers. Your Adventure Specialist will send you a unique link to complete this form along with a packing list and extensive pre-departure and travel insurance information upon booking confirmation.

Vaccination Requirement
To join this trip, all eligible guests must provide proof of being fully vaccinated (at least 14 days after your final COVID-19 vaccine shot), including a booster shot for those eligible. There may also be COVID-19 testing or other requirements to participate; your Adventure Specialist will provide details of current policies upon booking.

Arrival & Departure

The Wild Chesapeake Bay Escape cruise begins and ends in Washington D.C. (DCA or IAD), via transfers to embark and disembark the ship in Annapolis, Maryland. We highly recommend arriving one day prior to your trip start date in case of any flight delay, cancellation or lost luggage issues. Consult your Adventure Specialist for arrival and departure flight recommendations.

Activities

Whether you are looking for light activity options or more challenging outdoor pursuits, the ship’s crew can tailor most excursions to suit your skill level. Adventure activities may include historic site visits, walking and golf cart-assisted tours, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, inflatable boat/skiff excursions, photography and wildlife observation.

Room Configuration

In addition to listed Solo cabin rates, select double-occupancy cabins may be available for single occupancy with a single supplement fee. If you would like to share accommodations with another guest of the same gender, we will be happy to try to accommodate you in select cabin categories. This program allows you to pay the per person double-occupancy rate whether or not a roommate is found. Contact AdventureSmith for further details and availability.

Families & Children

Children under the age of 18 at time of travel save $500 off the double occupancy rate. Skilled staff members trained with National Geographic Education organize activities that inspire curiosity in young people of all ages. Programming for kids may include activities like photo workshops, journaling, scavenger hunts, Zodiac-driving lessons, hands-on nature and science programming and kid-friendly menu options.

Travel Insurance

Protect your travel investment with insurance. Our partners at Travelex Insurance offer a variety of plans and policies to fit every trip and budget. Coverage for a pre-existing medical condition is also available if you purchase the Travel Select plan within 15 days of the initial trip payment; refer to plan details. Learn more about travel insurance or get a free quote.

Itinerary Notes

Use the itinerary as a guide only. Itineraries may be altered due to weather, wildlife, national park regulation or at the captain’s discretion. The ability to be flexible makes this type of small ship cruising unique.

Rates & Dates

Cruise Rates & Dates

Rates are variable per remaining availability and are subject to change. Please contact AdventureSmith for the most up-to-date pricing.

May 30 - Jun 04, 2023
National Geographic Sea Lion • 6 days
From $4110USD
Per Person
Read More
Read More
Jun 04 - Jun 09, 2023
National Geographic Sea Lion • 6 days
From $4110USD
Per Person
Read More
Read More
Jun 09 - Jun 14, 2023
National Geographic Sea Lion • 6 days
From $4110USD
Per Person
Read More
Read More
Jun 14 - Jun 19, 2023
National Geographic Sea Lion • 6 days
From $4110USD
Per Person
Read More
Read More
Jun 19 - Jun 24, 2023
National Geographic Sea Lion • 6 days
From $4110USD
Per Person
Read More
Read More
Accommodation

Learn About the Small Ship on Your Itinerary

Expedition Ship
National Geographic Sea Lion

National Geographic Sea Lion is a tried and true educational-based 62-guest expedition ship. Onboard experts from National Geographic make this ship, and its twin the National Geographic Sea Bird, unique.

Deals

Current Deals on This Trip

Add to Wishlist
Offer expires January 31st, 2023
Save 10% On Two Consecutive National Geographic Expeditions

Save 10% when you book two consecutive cruises aboard a National Geographic expedition ship.

Add to Wishlist
Offer expires October 31st, 2022
Cruise Both U.S. Coasts With National Geographic & Save 20%

Book your 2022 U.S. West Coast cruise and receive 20% off any U.S. East Coast cruise in 2022 or 2023.

Book with the confidence that comes from experience.

100+ combined years of experience, 7 continents explored, decades of expedition cruising around the world & here to help you find & book your dream trip.

Extend Your Trip

Additional Travel Options Before or After Your Cruise

Add to Wishlist
6 - 8 Day Cruise
Wild Maine Escape: Exploring Coastal Maine

Escape to timeless fishing villages and rugged Acadia National Park on these 6- or 8-day Maine overnight cruises aboard 62-guest Nat Geo Sea Lion. Soak up the art, photograph lighthouses, seek whales and savor a special dinner at an organic farm or lobster boil on the beach.

Special Offer
From $4110USD
Jul Aug Sep Oct
Add to Wishlist
6 Day Cruise
Wild South Carolina Escape: Beaufort & The Barrier Islands

Sail round-trip from Charleston, South Carolina on a short, enriching getaway to explore windswept islands, wildlife refuges and picturesque neighborhoods aboard 62-guest Nat Geo Sea Lion.

Special Offer
From $3990USD
Apr May Nov
More to Explore

Trips You Might Also Like

Add to Wishlist
8 Day Cruise
Exploring The Hudson River: Fall Foliage Cruise

Board the 62-guest Nat Geo Sea Lion to explore "America's First River" on a Hudson River fall foliage cruise. Learn about the legendary river, its valley, critical conservation work, the Hudson’s maritime history, and the essential roles music and art have played in the region. 

Special Offer
From $5590USD
Oct Nov
Add to Wishlist
8 Day Cruise
Exploring The Low Country: Cumberland Island to Charleston Cruise

Board 62-guest Nat Geo Sea Lion to cruise The Low Country between South Carolina and Florida. Along the way, enjoy coastal lagoons, West African-influenced culture, birding opportunities, walking tours and learning about conservation efforts.

Special Offer
From $5760USD
Apr
Add to Wishlist
8 Day Cruise
New York City to Cape Cod: Whales, Great White Sharks & Seafaring History

Embark the 62-guest Nat Geo Sea Lion to explore New York City, Long Island Sound, Cape Cod and beyond on this 8-day cruise. Visit New England's only national marine sanctuary, take in maritime history and watch for whales and great white sharks.

Special Offer
From $5760USD
Jun Jul Aug Oct
Exit Created with Sketch.

Wild Chesapeake Bay Escape: Waterways, Watermen & Wildlife

test message
View Wishlist