Do you feel like getting away, but don’t want to fuss and bother? Do you have loved ones in town and want to show them around? Would you like a great new setting for brunch? Nina’s Dandy cruise ship will provide your meal and entertainment all at once. Docked where Prince Street meets the Potomac River, Nina’s Dandy makes for convenient touring of Old Town both before and after your cruise. Also, there are a couple of parking lots nearby — you’ll want to use them, since the cruise lasts for about 2.5 hours. When you make reservations, you will have to give the names of all the people in your party; those are Coast Guard rules, folks. Boarding is between 11 and 11:45. We did see one couple arrive a bit after that, but I wouldn’t advise it!
As you board, the Captain himself personally greets you. It’s a nice touch and made us feel like VIP’s. As you are seated, you are given a choice between champagne, mimosas or soda, along with a cup of hot coffee. The Sunday brunch ($45, plus tax and gratuity, includes one cocktail.) Then, the server lets you know that your table will be called to the buffet in turn. This also lends elegance to a buffet setting, so you don’t get those obnoxiously long lines you often find on a cruise. The pamphlets of Nina’s Dandy request that for Sunday brunch, “dresses, jackets, suits, shirts or sweaters with dress slacks,” be worn, but quite frankly, we observed a lot of jeans, T-shirts and shorts among the younger patrons.
At the buffet, there were starters of crackers with port wine cheese spread and little fresh crudités with dip. I noticed that one of the dips was garnished with crisp bacon pieces, a nice garnish. I also sampled a salmon spread, garnished with cucumbers and olives. Next, we sampled the plentiful fruit plate. Every piece of fruit, like strawberries, pineapple and kiwi, was glossy and perfectly ripe.
There were a number of pasta salads with seafood and also, vegetables. Dining Companion and I concentrated on the entrees; we’ve got wedding outfits to fit into. The choices on the day we were there included a carving station of turkey with all the traditional fixings, as well as an omelet station. Dining Companion sampled some fish, which we later learned was haddock. There was also bacon, sausage and potatoes. Okay, we did get tempted into the waffle station, where you could fix up your waffle with berries, whipped cream and nuts. And, maybe we did sample the cornbread, too. Did I mention that we went on a walk around Old Town both before and afterwards?
The service is extremely attentive; you never have to wait or ask for coffee, for example. After our meal was finished, the waiter brought everyone chocolate mousse in little parfait cups, which was a pleasant way to present dessert.
While you are eating, a jazz pianist from Memphis plays and takes requests. We requested some Fats Domino songs, in honor of New Orleans.
The cruise covers a lot of territory — I joked to Dining Companion, “Are we on our way to Cumberland?” We were lucky that day; the weather was perfect. Nina’s Dandy does pride itself in sailing rain or shine, though. The ship was specially designed to sail under D.C.’s low- lying bridges. From the river, you have a marvelous vantage point in seeing many of the great monuments, such as the Lincoln and the Jefferson, as well as the Kennedy Center. It was also a great way to see the “backs” of gorgeous homes and parks, the sides never visible from the road. You can also see the incredible development that’s going on by the river. In that way, the cruise is interesting whether are a native or you have guests in from out of town.
Nina’s Dandy Brunch Cruise
Zero Prince Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Boarding: Sunday, between 11 am and 11:45 am
Cruise: 12- 2:30