NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A Coast Guard veteran is sharing his love of the sea at the helm of City Cruises in Norfolk as the Veterans Day weekend approaches.

He just celebrated his first-year anniversary as one of the captains of the Spirit of Mount Vernon, the ship that replaced the Spirit of Norfolk following a massive fire the summer of last year.

Captain CJ Brown said after his 30-year career in the Coast Guard, he missed being out on the water, so now he gets to share his vast knowledge of our Hampton Roads waterways right here on “The Spirit” as one of its captains, navigating his way through the Elizabeth River for dinner cruises each week.

Captain CJ knows the waters well.

He retired from the Coast Guard after 30 years of service, working mostly in the navigation field and spending 12 of those years here in Hampton Roads.

“Our responsibility was to make sure that we maintained the waterway, the buoy system, the lighthouses, the ranges so that the major cargo that come in and out like the ultra containers that come in here along with Navy ships and spirit boats that operate can do so safely,” Brown said.

Captain CJ says running a ship like “The Spirit,” is similar to what he’s used to.

“It definitely prepared me to run a ship – however passenger counts are a lot higher than ship crew counts,” said Brown.

Passenger counts for class reunions, weddings, and dinner and brunch cruises.

He says one of the neat parts of his job, though, is talking about the rich military history in the area … and he gets some help from senior mates, like Bob too, who served in the Navy.

“When we get to the navy base its really kind of special because the captains that have been in the area get the opportunity to narrate that personally and what it includes out there, so that’s a neat part of it,” said Brown.

Brown also wanted to add a big thank you to our veterans and their families on behalf of City Cruises.

“We are surrounded by them, they are important both active duty and retired, more than that I want to thank their families – because I know I’m a retired vet and my wife and children played a big role in my success so I want to thank them as well,” said Brown.

City Cruises has a jam-packed line up for the rest of the year and they even offer military discounts. For anyone who has served in the military and has a military ID, you can get up to 20% off.

Upcoming cruises and deals if you’re interested in booking a trip on the Spirit:

  • Grand Illumination Dinner Cruise on 11/18, tickets are still available
  • Thanksgiving Lunch Cruise on 11/23, tickets are almost sold out
  • Senior Holiday Lunch Cruise on 12/13, tickets are still available
  • New Year’s Eve Brunch Cruise on 12/31, count down to 12noon!  (for folks that don’t want to say up until midnight)
  • New Year’s Eve Dinner Cruise on 12/31, count down to midnight!
  • New Years’ Day Brunch Cruise on 1/1/2024, Welcome in the NEW YEAR!
  • Dates are still available if you are looking for a unique venue for your holiday party.  Group rates for 20 or more people.

You can purchase tickets and see more events here.