Estuaries such as Long Island Sound are among the most valuable ecosystems in the world. The Sound supports diverse marine life, including most of the fish and shellfish we value as food ..."
– Connecticut Sea Grant
Long Island Sound

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Long Island Sound Fun Fact

Long Island Sound is 113 miles long, 21 miles wide (at its widest) and holds about 18 trillion gallons of water. Its average depth is 63 feet – which is just a little deeper than the height of our IMAX screen! Can you fathom that?!



R/V Spirit of the Sound™

Aquar.RVSpiritoftheSound 4 webRevolutionary in design, this new catamaran is the only research vessel in North America with hybrid-electric propulsion. She runs virtually silently on electric power for our 2½-hour study cruises on Long Island Sound.

The 64-foot all-aluminum vessel replaces a diesel-powered trawler. Public cruises, school group charters and private parties now enjoy a cleaner and greener venue on Long Island Sound.


Public Cruises 

Seal-Spotting and Birding Cruises   

Next available:  Sat., Feb 13; Sun., Feb. 14; and Mon., Feb. 15
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Cruise out with us in hopes of spotting some of the seals that come into Long Island Sound each winter.  We'll seek out the seals to observe them near the Norwalk Islands as they “haul out” to rest on rocks exposed at low tide. During the 2.5-hour cruises, educators will talk about the seals’ natural histories and use artifacts to discuss seal anatomy. And they’ll discuss what happens with the Sound’s marine population during the winter: who stays, who migrates out and who migrates in (besides the seals).

These cruises also give birders unique “on-the-water” access to see and photograph visiting winter waterfowl, such as buffleheads, mergansers, Brant geese and long-tailed ducks.

Binoculars will be provided.   R/V Spirit of the Sound has a climate-controlled cabin.  All participants must be at least 42 inches tall.

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Additional dates:   February 13 &14 (both 10 a.m.), 15 (11 a.m.), 27 (sold out) & 28 (9 a.m.).   March 13 (9 a.m.), March 19 (1 p.m.) and March 20 (2 p.m.).   And April 3 (1 p.m.).

Tickets are $24.95 ($19.95 for Aquarium members).  Capacity is limited to 22 so advance reservations are strongly recommended.  Reserve your tickets by clicking on the "Buy Tickets" button or call (203) 852-0700, ext. 2206.


New!   Maritime Aquarium Lighthouse Cruises

Next available:  Sat., March 5;    Sat., April 2;   Sat., May 7

Aquar.Middle Light 4webVenture out for a rare close-up look at five historic lighthouses on Long Island Sound!  Participants aboard the Aquarium’s unique new hybrid-electric research vessel R/V Spirit of the Sound will make passes by five century-old beacons: Peck Ledge, Greens Ledge and Sheffield Island lighthouses in Norwalk, Penfield Reef Lighthouse in Fairfield and Stratford Shoal (Middle Ground) Light. All the lighthouses are on the National Register of Historic Places.

The 4.5-hour cruises depart at 10 a.m.

Aquar.Lighthouse Cruise3 4webPlus, Aquarium educators will share histories and anecdotes about the lighthouses, and also point out the Sound’s visiting winter waterfowl.

Binoculars and boxed lunch will be provided. The Maritime Aquarium Lighthouse Cruises are a special photo opportunity for both lighthouse buffs and bird-watchers, so bring your camera! 

R/V Spirit of the Sound has a climate-controlled cabin. 

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Tickets are $70 ($60 for Aquarium members) and include a box lunch. Advance purchase is required. Capacity is limited to 20.  Reserve your tickets by clicking on the "Buy Tickets" button or call (203) 852-0700, ext. 2206.


Marine Life Study Cruises

1 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays July 1 through Labor Day

1 p.m. Saturdays & Sundays in May, June, September & October. 

Study marine biodiversity from the water’s surface down to the bottom for a first-hand understanding of Long Island Sound's interdependent marine life. Participants utilize such sampling techniques as a plankton tow, bio-dredge, mud grab and otter trawl that may bring up fish, crabs, squid, skates and more. A video-microscope and touch tank on board enhance observations.

Passengers must be over 42" tall.   If under the age of 18, you must be accompanied by an adult. Capacity: 35.

ADVANCE RESERVATIONS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED. A capacity limit is set by the U.S. Coast Guard. Cruises do sell out. We recommend you purchase your tickets in advance. (Walk-up tickets are sold, space permitting. Ask any cashier when you arrive.)

Cost: $29.95 per person
Aquarium Members: $24.95

Discounted Triple Combination = Cruise + Aquarium admission + IMAX® movie: $49.95 adults;   $47.95 youths (13-17) & seniors (65+);   $42.95 ages 12 & under … but must be at least 42 inches tall.
(This package is not available for purchase online.)


Cruises for Schools & Other Groups 

School groups, Scouts, camps and other groups can charter the R/V Spirit of the Sound for study cruise programs onto Long Island Sound.

For Grades 3-5, click here.  

(This link is to Grades 4 & 5, but the cruise content on that page applies to Grade 3 as well.)

For Grades 6-8, click here.School Bro cover shot 2014-15 copy

For High School cruises, click here

Schools or other groups of 10 or more interested in a Marine Life Study Cruise should click on the appropriate grade levels above under Cruises for Schools & Other Groups. Or call our Reservations Dept. at (203) 852-0700, ext. 2206, Mon.-Fri. 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. or email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  

Corporate and Private Charters 

Our new, quieter, greener boat offers a unique platform for corporate team building, meetings, parties and more. We can custom design a private cruise for companies and individuals. A range of food and beverage options are available. Add an exciting program: marine life study, remotely operated underwater vehicle, marine navigation, lighthouse tour, history tour, bird watching and more. Capacity: 40 people.

Party at the Dock 

If you have more people or less time, consider a special event on our spacious dock and boat without the cruise. We can accommodate up to 65 people with broader catering choices. You can still add an interpretive program: remotely operated underwater vehicle, marine navigation, bird watching, animals of Long Island Sound and more.


What happens on a Marine Life Study Cruise?

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Cruises can occur in rain, cold and wind, and are canceled only if conditions are dangerous. Please dress accordingly!

All observations made on study cruises are recorded. This data is part of an ongoing student-based research project called the Long Island Sound Biodiversity Study. Details ...


Norwalk's public dock is just across the river from our dock. Join us to learn what's under your keel, or spot seals or experience the first hybrid-electric research vessel in the U.S.A. There is plenty here for a weekend trip.

Who Built Her:

Designed by Incat Crowther of Australia, Spirit of the Sound was built in Mamaroneck, NY, at the Robert E. Derecktor Inc. shipyard, with construction managed and integrated by Alternative Marine Technologies (Amtech). Her hybrid-electric propulsion system was made by BAE Systems Inc., Corvus Energy and Northern Lights Hybrid Marine.

Major contributors include: the Per and Astrid Heidenreich Family Foundation, George & Carol Bauer of Wilton, and The TK Foundation.

Christening of the R/V Spirit of the Sound

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Our new boat's godmother, Astrid Heidenreich, breaks the ceremonial bottle of champagne on the bow of our new boat. Pulling the boat closer to the dock is Project Manager Robert Kunkel, Amtech.

Launch season sponsor

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Mission: The Maritime Aquarium inspires people of all ages to appreciate and protect
the Long Island Sound ecosystem and the global environment through living exhibits,
marine science, and environmental education.

10 North Water Street  •  Norwalk, CT 06854
Tel: 203-852-0700

The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation.

© 2016 The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk

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