For those following along with our Philadelphia journey, we had just wrapped up the afternoon of our second day with a trip to Reading Terminal Market and Chinatown. As our plans for the evening required a little more dressy attire, we'd decided to catch the 3:56 train back to the drop off station a block from our hotel. Because we were staying near the Airport, this is one of the major, and frequent, stops along the train route. I really don't think I've stressed it enough, so I'll note again that I was completely surprised by the affordability, convenience, and ease of Philadelphia's SEPTA public transportation system. For just $12 a rider may get a Day Pass and hop on/off any of the 5 major city transportation methods. A family of 4 can save even further, up to half of that, making travel to Philadelphia, and important historical destinations, a reality. If you're aware of the notorious Philadelphia Parking Authority, you know that public transportation can be invaluable- don't rent a car in Philly! The trains, trams, trolleys, and buses are quite clean and safe!
After a quick shower and change our group was ready to head to it's evening destination, Penn's Landing (Philadelphia's main Deleware riverfront destination). While we could have easily taken the public transportation for this, as well, we all hopped into my mother's car, as we were not sure how late we would truly be out. Because we arrived about an hour early, we had some time to spend enjoying the sites and many monuments along the riverfront at Penn's Landing. From the parking lot the first visible landmark (or I should say watermark) was the acclaimed Moshulu pirate ship, restaurant, and club. A long canopied plank extended from the docked ship towards the sidewalk, and dance music could be heard from the upper deck even at only 5PM. Docked behind the Moshulu was U.S.S. Olympia and a real Navy Submarine! I'm no history buff, but even I was impressed to be so close to such amazing vessels. The U.S.S. Olympia has been converted into a floating museum, where visitors can actually walk across the submarine beside it, to enter! There was even talk of select season opportunities to spend a night about the 'haunted' vessel- too cool!
Further down along the waterfront, towards the left past the Independence seaport Museum was a captivating fountain (currently empty), that passed as a makeshift amphitheater. Along the top of this area of intrigue were curious gargoyle like faces that, at one time, had dispensed streams of water. There was something oddly serene about this hideaway, with the tall and shady trees gently swaying above us and the Benjamin Franklin Monument towering in the distance. We stopped here for a photo op- the other half and I have so few decent photos, then wandered back towards our final destination; The Spirit of Philadelphia. Now, never having been to Philadelphia, nor ever possessing the desire, I approached this trip with quite the carefree attitude. As you're finding out, we actually found quite a few noteworthy things to do- this one in particular with the help of Groupon. I saved over 50% on 4 tickets to an evening dinner cruise on The Spirit of Philadelphia (a subdivision of a larger national cruise company).
For about $24 a head I scored us tickets for, what I thought was, a relaxing 3 hour cruise around the Philadelphia harbor, including a buffet style dinner. The part I had missed in the description was 'with entertainment'- and boy did they mean entertainment! When we first boarded the 400 capacity yacht there was staff waiting to snap our picture behind a life preserver. I always avoid those photo opps like crazy, because no one in our group ever wants to shell out the extra dough, when they have their own cameras, but it turns out some of our photos were lost- and I ended up regretting this. This ship had 3 floors open to passengers, and a below deck for staff and the wedding party that was also partaking in the day's festivities. Inside our deck was a decent sized dance floor, complete with DJ and full service bar. There were small dining tables set about the walls of the room, and a buffet serving station in the back.
We had barely put butt to seat when we noticed their nifty little 'add-on' of the evening, the Monster Margaritas sold in what we would come to call the 'fish bowl' souvenir glasses. None of us are large drinkers, but for $30, we were in. Each of the couples tried to kill one off throughout the night (and I bummed most of my 'half' on Jeremy- I only wanted the glass!) As the ship began to leave it's dock, and before we'd even had a chance to judge the food selection, we were informed that we had boarded a 'party' ship, and instructed to participate in various cheers, chants, and even to throw provided streamers. Things were getting pretty cheesy, but what can you expect on a cruise? I do have to say, however, that the food was quite delicious; ranging from steamed Atlantic salmon to Chicken Fontina and a complete Carving Station. Some of the carved meat was a little dry, but I found there was more than enough unlimited salmon to keep me quite content.
Before they served dessert, however, we had also discovered that the 'entertainment' on The Spirit of Philadelphia is provided by the actual servers who, one by one, make the rounds singing along to popular and classic songs. Some of the servers seem to get quite into it, though we found we enjoyed those who had no aspirations of fame the most; they seemed to have more fun. Not only were these servers singing and dancing, but they seemed to be encouraged to interact with the passengers, our very own server coming up to my other half (complete with pink feather boa) and serenading him. As she was a very bubbly full figured gal, who had up to this point been more reserved and humble, this was definitely a note of the night! When we had eaten our decadent dessert trios we mosied outside and up to the top deck where there was ample lounging furniture. The weather sprinkled a little, but there was otherwise perfect weather for an evening in the harbor, reconnecting with family.
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