Hornblower Cruises Brings Employees and Guests Back to Potomac

Tour boats on Potomac river near Northern Virginia with skyline of Arlington cityscape in spring

WASHINGTON, DC -- Summer on the Potomac River is as much D.C. tradition for Hornblower Cruises and Events as fireworks, and the company has confirmed it's restarting its operations, with an added focus on health under the pandemic.

"We are absolutely excited to be getting back out on the water," Kelsey McCarthy, General Manager for Hornblower Cruises and Events told 104.7 WONK FM's Jen Richer. "It's something different for people to be able to do."

In an effort to protect guests and staff from the spread of the coronavirus, Hornblower has expanded their Safecruise program.

"We've definitely made a lot of changes...we had to look at how we can ramp this up, how can we meet all the different regulations and restrictions, but the biggest thing that will look different is that when guests come onboard, they are going to be very spaced out. We went around and assured that each of our tables are 6 feet apart from each other," McCarthy explained.

These are some of the steps Hornblower Cruise and Events are taking to keep guests and staff safe:

  • Mandatory daily crew member health screening, and wearing of appropriate PPE
  • Revising boarding and ticketing procedures to allow for social distancing and touchless entry
  • Requiring guests to wear face masks while cruising, except while eating and drinking
  • Reducing the number of guests on board, and adapting all seating and table spacing to allow for a minimum 6-foot distance between guests while they cruise
  • Implementing enhanced sanitation and disinfection procedures, with hand sanitizing stations available throughout

As a major employer in the DC area, Hornblower and their staff are excited to see a safe return to the river.

"We started bringing our teams back this past weekend. They all came back on Friday for a whole day training, and what we said is it felt like the first day of school, they were so excited to see each other," McCarthy described. "I think the team just loves being back on the boats and honestly once they were working it felt like no time had passed and we were just back to operations as usual."

Behind the excitement is a commitment to health and safety onboard. "Every single day when [staff] comes onboard, they ... go through a health screening, we take their temperature, they have a form they have to fill out, they wear a wristband noting they've had their temperature check for the day."

As of June 27, both the Potomac Water Taxi Services and the Dining Cruise Experiences were open for service. Hornblower plans to gradually increase offerings throughout the summer, resuming its full range of dining, sightseeing and water taxi experiences when current restrictions are lifted.

Washington D.C. / Alexandria will be the company’s seventh location to reopen, joining Baltimore, Chicago, Marina del Rey, Newport Beach, Norfolk and San Diego.

Listen to the full interview here:


For further information and schedule details for Dining Cruises and Potomac Water Taxi services visit Hornblower Cruises and Events or call 888-306-2469.

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