Daytrippers: The Hartford Belle


The banks of the Connecticut River have a little known liquid asset. Looking for serenity now? The Hartford Belle is a 47-foot cruiser offering both exploration and relaxation. "This is a character boat built in 1992 to match the1920's era type passenger cruiser," said Bill Keyt, the Hartford Belle's first mate. The classic white boat is being used as a vehicle to teach people more about the Connecticut River. Brad Fenn, the Belle's Captain, began passenger trips four years ago, "we try to bring people back to the Connecticut River, for many, the Connecticut River was sort of lost on the other side of Route 91 and people forgot it was there," Fenn said, "we're trying to get people back on the river."

The Hartford Belle offers 60 and 90 minute tours on the water. The 90 minute tour starts at Charter Oak Landing, picks up more passengers at Riverfront Plaza in downtown Hartford, then charts a course North where passengers can take pleasure in their placid surroundings as they glide under the congested snarl of cars and trucks above on both the Founders and Bulkeley Bridges. Linda Caruso, on the Belle for the first time, said, " I grew up in downtown Hartford near Riverside Park...I've never seen it from this angle, I never seen all the bridges and the shoreline, it's terrific to see it this way." Enjoying the sights from the stern of the boat, Cathy Mandle from Wethersfield said, "it almost makes you forget where you are for a moment and the kids love it. The kids are seeing things they've never seen before."

Along the trip, Fenn offers historical facts as the boat floats by area landmarks such as the Colt Building and the Travelers Tower. If the tide is right, the Belle ends up in Wethersfield Cove before it returns to port. Readying the boat for arrival, ship mate Keyt added, "a lot of it is knowing the river is this nice...just the exploration and finding out new things that they didn't know were available in Connecticut or the Hartford area." And, it seems, in 90 minutes, the hassles of 91 and 84 looming above are 86'ed on the water.

The Hartford Belle offers scenic cruises Thursday through Sunday this month, then they run on weekends until Columbus Day. The 90 minute tour cost $19 for adults and $10 for kids under 12. They also offer a happy hour cruise on Thursday nights in the Summer. Snacks and Drinks are available on board. For all the schedules and information go to

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