With a few different companies offering them, the dining cruises in Washington DC are numerous. They are available all-year long, and they can be booked for a regular meal or for a special occasion, like a holiday or a private celebration. The most common cruises are lunch and dinner cruises, but brunch cruises are also frequently offered. Specialty cruises or holiday cruises are generally built around one of these meals, and thus there are things like Valentine’s Day dinner cruises, but there are also events that don’t really fit within the standard dining paradigm. In short, there are a lot of dining cruises in Washington DC, and the offerings are quite diverse, so below we’ve compiled a guide to help you sort out what is available.
As is the case in all (as far as we know) cities along the East Coast with dining cruises, a substantial portion of the dining cruises in Washington DC are operated by the companies owned by Entertainment Cruises. In Washington DC, three such companies operate dining cruises: Spirit Cruises, Odyssey Cruises, and Elite Private Yachts. Even though they are different companies that each operate their own ship, Spirit and Odyssey can almost be thought of as one company because of the way their offerings are integrated. When you search for cruises on Spirit’s website, Odyssey cruises are listed alongside Spirit’s cruises, and Spirit’s cruises are listed on the Odyssey website. They also each offer brunch, lunch, and dinner cruises, and they both have specialty cruises on the same holidays. There are definitely differences between the companies – their ships are different and their meal styles are different, and they also host specialty events that are specific to each company – but overall they are a unified force.
Elite Private Yachts, on the other hand, sells something totally different. Instead of offering spots on regularly scheduled dinning cruises, Elite has two ships that can be entirely rented out for private parties or corporate events. Many of these events will feature dining in one form or another, so Elite is part of the dining cruise scene in Washington DC, but in a way that is different from Spirit and Odyssey. (For the record, Spirit and Odyssey’s ships can also be rented for private functions, but their main offerings are open to the public.)
In a lot of places, Entertainment Cruises is the only player in town, but Washington DC is a big place, and evidently there is room for one other dining cruise company, Dandy Restaurant Cruises. Dandy basically operates like Spirit and Odyssey – it offers regularly scheduled brunch, lunch, and dinner cruises, and it also has cruises that celebrate special events. These special-event cruises are almost always for holidays, and thus they are open to public, but the ship will also offer “special cruises” for private groups, like student parties or weddings. Basically, you can rent the ship for your own dining cruise, just as you can do with Entertainment Cruises’ ships.
Between Dandy Restaurant Cruises and the three companies operated by Entertainment Cruises, there are a lot of dining cruises in Washington DC. If you want to take a cruise on any given night, it shouldn’t be too hard to reserve a spot, but if you want to take a dining cruise for a holiday or other special event, it is wise to book well in advance. Tickets can be purchased on the Spirit and Odyssey websites, and you can call Dandy to make a reservation for one of their cruises. If you want to set up a private event with any of the companies, you’ll have to speak with a representative from the companies to discuss the details.