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The Start of the Breeze Fleet: Our Story...

Greetings from The Breeze Fleet:

Chesapeake City & Havre De Grace, Maryland Boat Cruises!

My name is Steven Connell, Co-Owner of M/V Bay Breeze and M/V Summer Breeze tour boats. We are the original & locally owned cruise boat company of the Upper Chesapeake Bay region. Our family owned and operated business is a staple in this area for several generations and we aim to give our guests a true Maryland experience. So let the journey begin…

To The Drawing Board...

Our story started in 2011 and 2012 down at Schaefer’s Canal House talking one day with one of the new owners John Giordano. It was one of those lazy Summer days and we were on the pier by the fuel dock talking about all of the different possibilities that could be done in this area. We brainstormed a lot of ideas, some more far fetched then others, but finally arrived at our first decision which was to do a water taxi from North to South Chesapeake City. We thought at the time that the only type of vessel that we could do would be a small passenger vessel and after reviewing the idea over and over, we decided to discuss the business with the US Coast Guard. Our inspector informed us on the number of different things that we can do with a documented vessel in our area and mentioned the idea of pursuing a passenger dinner cruise vessel. Over the next several months my father and I went back and forth on planning for a dinner cruise/booze cruise vessel. After several workshop nights consisting of classic rock n roll, whiskey, and a ream of paper we had plenty of notes, numbers, and thoughts compiled. We began the task of looking around for different style vessels that would fit our concept and the area. At one point we even thought to take one of our old pile drivers and strip the leads off and just tow the barge around. After weeks of conversation, we thought that maybe this would not be the right venture if we couldn't find an affordable solution. It wasn't until finally one snowy day coming back from Chestertown, John Giordano texted a picture of a vessel for sale in Lewes, DE that looked very promising.  We pulled over and at first glance both thought to ourselves that this had to be fate. We responded to the ad and next day I was in Lewes looking at the future M/V Bay Breeze.  I remember that day vividly because it went from a snowy and dismal week to unseasonably warm weather the day I went to see the boat. Once I got down there I remember thinking that it must be a great sign that we are having spring type weather when looking at this party boat. It wasn’t but a few short days and we signed a contract for the boat.


The Adventure North…

For 15 years prior to this business my father and I owned a marine construction business, constructing docks, bulkheads, boat lifts, and sold marine products. We had a steel pile driver that we moved around with an old Carolina Skiff work boat. We didn't break any records when we had to move this unit so on the days we took the rig to the next job, dad always tried picking the right times to catch the best weather and current. So with this being said, on the day we had to move the M/V Bay Breeze to Schaefer's Canal House wasn’t really the most prestine boat trip I have been. What got the trip going was the adrenaline of bringing this boat to Schaefer’s that keep us focused during the trip. I remember dad telling me days prior that we have two choices, either have a warm day but have the tides not in our favor or to have a cold snowy day and tides helping us. Well mother nature decided to have a little fun with us and the only decent day in the forecast turned out to be cold, windy, and snowing. Well as you can probably imagine the day turned in to a very long and exhausting boat trip.  We departed from the Roosevelt Inlet in the morning and no sooner did we enter in to the Delaware River when it started to snow. So without have the isinglass sides up it got a little drafty. Luckily we packed some refreshing beverages and a tray of sandwiches to take the edge off! I guess that the one bright side of the trip is that the drinks stayed cold on their own...

The Preparation of M/V Bay Breeze

Our cruise boat is a very cozy and welcoming vessel to host a party on which is immediately why we fell in love with it. The philosophy that my father and I have is to keep everything very simple, laid back, and clean when it comes to our first impression of the cruise boats. I often say that we try to emulate the show "Cheers" with the friendly atmosphere that we aim for on our boat rides. 

So prior to being docked at Schaefer's for our first official shortened season we had our preliminary business things done and within a relatively painless process managed to have all of our licensing and documents ready for our opening day! 

Opening Day

Well the doors opened and despite all of our advertising, word of mouth, and promotional efforts M/V Bay Breeze was docked at Schaefer's Marina for a few weeks before she saw her first boat tour. I remember sitting on the forward seat in the bow with a drink talking with dad about how maybe we should rework the "business model". So my captain and I kept busy straightening and arranging the boat 3-400 times while also trying to promote on the deck at Schaefer's. 

We had our big break when our first guest Bill Carson and his son decided that they wanted to try us out and take a little trip! So off we went with our maiden voyage with a party of two West bound in the C&D Canal. Talking with Bill I remember him saying that we must not be making a lot of money on this trip, being that our covers were $8/person. I responded to him that it isn't about making a million dollars and big egos for us. I referred to the conversations, that months ago, my father and I had about this crazy idea to start a cruise business in the hospitality industry. I told him that at that moment in time that it wasn't about the money but rather with him and his son on board it felt to me that we were bigger then Carnival Cruise Lines. Whether we had two or two hundred guests, I wanted them enjoying our cruise boat and the father/son moment they were able to experience with us. It is moments like that which makes our company happen! 

Our 5th Season...

We look back at our business over the last several years and truly feel humbled by the amount of support that we have received. At a glance, there are many great stories and memories that we have shared with our guests and anticipate many more as the years go on! Often times I think about the Miss Claire tour boat that was in service for 25 years at Chesapeake City, MD, and held the distinct title of being a top notch historic cruise vessel. Both Ralph and Claire Hazel, the owners, had a simple business model, which carried them for close to three decades as a respectable, entertaining, and knowledgeable leader of the cruising industry in the Upper Chesapeake Bay. Mrs. Claire, (my pre-school teacher by the way), taught me many things not only at the church but also throughout my life as a local of Chesapeake City. One morning she greeted my father and I, just after officially purchasing the M/V Bay Breeze in 2013, with a surprise. As we walked down the pier at Schaefer’s we were welcomed with a tray of Danish, donuts, and bagels along with coffee and balloons adorning the bow of the boat. It was a very sobering but exciting moment just the same for me. As we chatted a bit, along with former Dock master Buddy Sheppard, and I remember her saying something to me that has etched its way in to my mind forever. She told me that upon their retirement from their years of being in the tour business that she was very grateful to have local guys continuing the heritage that they started years ago. Miss Claire told me a story about a trip in the early years regarding a family birthday party of a son who was very young at the time. While the family was on board, Capt. Ralph and Mrs. Claire directed a very historical and memorable trip for the family. Many years later that boy grew up and graduated college only to have his graduation party on their vessel. What captured my attention was when she said that the young man started a family and had a son who was to have his first birthday on the Miss Claire cruise boat! I have thought about that story for years as we have been in business and think about how fulfilling they must have felt knowing that they were able to be remembered and praised so much by this family. I then began to think about how wonderful it would be to have that same effect on a family’s important events. I want to be able to look back years from now and tell people all about the amazing stories that we were able to share on board our cruise vessels since our founding in 2013.


Following the course of the Miss Claire, our motto for the Breeze fleet is much of the same philosophy and is very simple to understand in this sometimes confusing, high-paced, and stressful world we all live in. M/V Bay Breeze of Chesapeake City and M/V Summer Breeze of Havre De Grace are here to help make your family memories special and talked about for years to come. We want our guests the chance to get away from life for a couple of hours and take in hopefully a few moments of reflection for their own wellness. Life can be extremely short and tiresome which is what we keep reiterating about our business being your relaxation destination! Let go of the daily struggles, issues, problems, or concerns and take a sunset cruise with us for that brief moment of clarity! Allow us be your top choice venue for the most cherished family events. We can cruise together on what we hope will be a lasting memory for your family. ~Welcome Aboard~


~Steven Connell 

Help us continue our story and let's build the next story together... 

M/V Bay Breeze in Lewes, DE
Tom Connell on M/V Bay Breeze in the Delaware River
Tom Connell, Owner of M/V Bay Breeze trip up from Lewes, DE
M/V Bay Breeze docked at Schaefer's Marina
1st Season at Schaefer's Marina, M/V Bay Breeze Bow Shot
1st Season at Schaefer's Marina, M/V Bay Breeze
Family gathering on M/V Bay Breeze Boat Tours of Chesapeake City, MD
Tom Connell and Steven Connell, Owners of the Breeze Fleet
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