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Last updated on May 21st, 2019 at 08:31 pm

Out of all the amazing things to do in Portland, the one I was most excited about was the Lucky Catch Portland, Maine cruise where we got to try to catch lobster!

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The last time I went fishing, I was about 6 years old. We fished on my uncle’s dock and I remember catching my first fish and then throwing it back in the lake.

Living in the Seattle-area, you’d think I would have gone fishing a bit more growing up, but I never really had much interest.

But when I heard that Lucky Catch Cruises offered a Casco Bay cruise on a real lobster boat, I knew I had to check it out!

I mean, when you think of Maine, you think of LOBSTER!

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Explore Portland Aboard a Portland Maine Cruise

Since I was in Maine for the Women in Travel Summit, I was invited on one of the first lobster cruises of the season by Visit Portland and Lucky Catch Cruises.

If you're looking for a unique Portland Maine cruise, try this Lucky Catch cruise on a real lobster boat.
You’ll board your Lucky Catch cruise at Long Wharf in Portland, Maine. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

It was the warmest, sunniest day of the first weekend in May, but I still wore 4 layers of clothing! I’m so glad I did because the boat catches a lot of wind.

Thankfully, the crew (Jenna and Tom) provided everyone with thick aprons that kept me much warmer than I expected!

Lucky Catch Cruises is an easy boat ride on Casco Bay where crew will guide you through the daily routines of a Maine Lobsterman.

The cruise is as hands-on or laid back as you’d like. And you’ll see picturesque lighthouses, historic Civil War forts, and “Seal Rocks” on this 80-90 minute cruise in Portland, Maine.

BAITING THE TRAPS

Lobster traps look like big, wiry cubes. The ones I saw were a gorgeous, bright teal color. Which makes sense, if they are trying to blend into the water.

It’s designed to lure the lobster in and then once they are inside, they are unable to climb out.

Our first job was learning how to bait the lobster traps. This consisted of having one person hold a netted bag, while another person filled it with 5 herring fish.

Guests can participate in this lobster cruise by filling net bags with herring fish to put in the lobster traps as bait.
Guests can get their hands “dirty” by filling the bait bags for the lobster traps. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Most of us took turns holding the bag, but only a few people volunteered to fill it with fish!

I admit, I was one of the people who didn’t want to actually touch the fish!

But, the craziest thing about baiting the lobster traps is that seagulls immediately swarmed the boat as soon as we brought out the bait!

Now, I’m talking about like 30 large seagulls rushing the boat and it totally caught me off guard!

SETTING THE TRAPS

Once we put the bait in the netted bags, the next step was to tie it inside the lobster trap. There are a few hooks inside the trap, so we really just had to loop it around a few times.

Guests can help push lobster traps into the water on this Portland Maine cruise in Casco Bay.
Pushing the lobster trap into Casco Bay was quite exhilarating! Photo credit: Allison Fraser

Then, we made sure the top of the trap was bungeed shut.

Now came the fun part. We got to push the traps into the water!

We did this for about 8 stops throughout the tour. The crew pulled up the traps from the water and we’d take turns throwing the little crabs and partially eaten bait into the water, where the seagulls would snap them up!

LEARNING ABOUT LOBSTER

In between stops, Jenna talked to us about lobster and answered all of our lobster-related questions.

She showed us the subtle difference between a male and female lobster.

On this Portland Maine boat ride, you'll learn how to use a lobster gauge when fishing for lobster in Casco Bay.
Jenna uses a lobster gauge to show us whether or not this lobster would be large enough to keep. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

We also learned how they measure lobsters to know which ones they can keep and which they need to throw back.

The tool is called a Lobster Gauge and apparently Maine is the only state that uses it.

We also heard a bit about the conservation efforts going on.

And Jenna told us how fisherman and fisherwomen use citrus to neutralized any “fishy” smells on their bodies after work.

LOBSTER LICENSES

Jenna also talked to us about the coveted lobster license.

When she said that some people have been on the waiting list for more than a decade, I did a double take and asked for clarification.

Check out this lobster from a Portland Maine cruise around Casco Bay in New England.
Close up of a lobster caught earlier in the day. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

I guess, they really want to make sure that they are only giving the licenses to career lobster fishermen.

See, there are 7 major lobsterinng “zones” and they can only allow a certain number of people to fish for them at any given time.

So, people have to wait until a current license-holder retires before they can move up on the list. That can take ages!

The way to get around it, though, is to secure an apprenticeship.

If someone knows they want to be a career lobsterman, they complete their 1,000 fishing hours before their 23rd birthday and avoid the line all together.

PHOTO OPS

Because I was on a trip with a bunch of other bloggers and vloggers, everyone was trying to get the best photos and video. And there was still plenty of opportunity for everyone.

Now, normally, you won’t be on a tour with other travel content creators, so you’ll have ample time to pose for photos with lobster, the bait, seagulls, and even the crew!

And anyone who wants a turn holding the bait, setting the lobster traps, being part of the action will get their chance.

FORT GORGES

If you do any Portland, Maine tour, Fort Gorges is one of the top spots. But, Lucky Catch Cruises brought us much closer than any other tour.

Fort Gorges was first designed for the Civil War and is completely surrounded by water and it's one of the main attractions on this Portland Maine cruise around Casco Bay.
Fort Gorges was first designed for the Civil War and is completely surrounded by water. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Fort Gorges was never actually used for military maneuvers.

When it was finally completed in 1864, it was already deemed “obsolete!” So, it was used as a storage facility for the first and second world wars.

What’s really cool about Fort Gorges is that it’s free and open to anyone who can get there.

The tricky part is actually getting there since you’d need to take your own boat or swim! I guess a lot of visitors get stuck out there when the tide comes in and their kayaks float away!

Oh, and you see that stuff on the roof? Yep, that’s poison ivy!

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Maine Lobstering Cruise Options

If you’ve decided that you want to do a Portland, Maine cruise with Lucky Catch Crusies, you have a few options:

PORTLAND HEADLIGHT LOBSTERING CRUISE

If you’d like to see a bunch of lighthouses, the Portland Headlight Lobstering Cruise fits the bill!

You’ll get up close to some of the most scenic points in Casco Bay, including Maine’s most famous lighthouse: Portland Headlight.

You’ll also get to see six other lighthouses, Fort Gorges and Fort Scammel.

SEAL WATCH LOBSTERING CRUISE

Another cool option for a boat ride in Portland, Main is this Seal Watch Lobstering Cruise. You’ll still get to see lighthouses, forts, and island, but you’ll also stop at Seal Rocks.

This is home to a colony of super cute harbor seals that will either be playing in the water or sun bathing on the rocks.

In the summertime, Lucky Catch claims a 90% seal sighting rate, so it’s almost a sure thing!

WHITE HEAD PASSAGE LOBSTERING CRUISE

There’s also the White Head Passage Lobstering Cruise that will take you around the rocky shores of three Casco Bay islands before arriving at White Head cliff.

From there, you’ll see Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse and the stone-faced profile of Chief White Head.

And you’ll see more lighthouses and forts on the way back to the harbor.

PRIVATE PORTLAND MAINE CRUISE

And if you decide that you don’t want to cruise with a bunch of strangers, you can ask Lucky Catch about their private charters.

This is a great idea if you are traveling with a large group of friends or family.

They will work with you on creating a custom charter that is sure to be a highlight of your Portland, Maine vacation!

Most of our lobster traps were filled with little crabs on our Portland Maine lobster boat.
One of the crabs we found in a lobster trap on our Lucky Catch cruise. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Kid-Friendly Thing to do in Portland Maine:

As a family travel blogger, I’m always keeping my eye out for activities that would be fun for kids.

While I didn’t have my kids on this trip, I asked a ton of questions to see if it would be something I’d recommend to traveling families.

Jenna told me that they have special “lobster pants” available for little kids and they can wear gloves and participate in all the activities.

They will even bring the lobster traps onto the deck so kids of all ages/sizes can learn how to be lobstermen!

There’s also a fish tank on board with rock crabs, snails, starfish, hermit crabs, and other marine life. These creatures stay in the tank all day before they are thrown back into the sea.

And I have to give a shout out to the crew because they are so friendly and I think they’d be able to answer any question a kid asked!

After telling my kids about my trip to Portland, Maine, they BEGGED me to take them on this lobster fishing boat, so it’s officially on their bucket list!

The seagulls like to hang out near the fishing boats in Casco Bay hoping to get some handouts!
Yes, that seagull is carry a crab! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

What You Need to Know about Lucky Catch Cruises:

WHEN TO GO

Lucky Catch Cruises operates their lobstering excursions every day from the first weekend of May through the last weekend in October.

You’ll catch the boat from their location in Long Wharf on the waterfront near Old Port.

HOW LONG IS THE BOAT RIDE?

The lobster tours last about 80-90 minutes and they keep the number of passengers limited so everyone gets an up-close Maine lobstering experience.

Because of the length of the boat trip, it’s easy to fit into any Portland, Maine itinerary.

IS THERE A BATHROOM ON BOARD?

If you think you might need to use the facilities, go before you board!

On our boat, there was a little closet and a bucket available as a make-shift restroom.

If you are going with little kids, be sure to have them use a restroom back at the harbor, as there won’t be enough room for both of you in the little closet.

CAN YOU BUY THE LOBSTER?

Yes, you can purchase any lobsters they catch after the cruise at a discounted “boat” price. They even have extras on board to make sure anyone who wants to purchase a lobster has that option.

You can take them home to cook, or bring them to the Portland Lobster Company restaurant to have them cook it for you.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

For a Casco Bay cruise, this is definitely an affordable option.

Adults: $35
Seniors: $33
Juniors (ages 13-18): $30
Children (ages 2-12): $20
Kids under 2 years old: FREE

HOW TO BOOK YOUR PORTLAND MAINE CRUISE

Ok, are you ready to book this unique boat ride in Portland, Maine?

The easiest way is to check availability and book online.

The view of Old Port from our Lucky Catch Portland Maine boat ride was stunning!
Loved looking at the peaceful Portland waterfront aboard Lucky Catch Crusies! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

WHERE TO STAY IN PORTLAND MAINE

The Francis

For a Portland boutique hotel and spa, The Francis is a quaint 15 room inn.

They have family rooms and suites available, free parking and they have a restaurant and bar on property.

Portland Harbor Hotel

For Portland’s only AAA rated 4 diamond hotel in Old Port, check out the Portland Harbor Hotel. It’s really close to Lucky Catch Cruises.

They have 24 hour room service, valet, spa, restaurant and an Instagram-worthy lobby!

Old Port Style and Luxury

If you are looking for a Portland, Maine vacation rental, this one is right in the heart of Old Port.

It can sleep up to 6 people and is great for families with little kids. Easy walk to restaurants, Lucky Catch Cruises, local attractions, and activities.

WHAT TO BRING ON YOUR PORTLAND MAINE CRUISE

Phone with Holder

You’ll definitely want to take photos and video as you participate in catching lobster in Maine, however, if you drop your phone, it might be washed out to sea.

See, the way the lobster boat is designed, it’s meant to drain any water that goes on board.

So, I recommend getting a cell phone ring or a Lovehandle so you won’t drop your phone.

Sturdy Shoes

You will be walking around the boat a bit to help with the lobster traps, so you’ll want to wear sturdy, closed toe shoes.

Because of the nature of this Portland, Maine cruise, your shoes might get wet and muddy.

Jacket + Hat

The wind in Maine is no joke! They will provide you with thick aprons to wear, which shields a bit of wind.

However, you’ll probably want to wear a warm, wind-resistant jacket. And you might want a knit hat to keep your head warm (and keep your hair out of your face.)

WHAT ELSE TO DO IN PORTLAND MAINE

Maine Foodie Tours

After learning how to catch lobster, the next obvious step is to EAT the lobster! But which places have the best lobster rolls?

Maine Foodie Tours offers several different walking tours featuring some of the many incredible restaurants all over Portland. Bring your appetite!

Reserve your Maine Foodie Tour ticket here.

Portland Explorer Tours

Want to see the most photographed lighthouse in Maine? Take a ride inside an air-conditioned van as you explore Portland’s famous lighthouses.

And you’ll also get a brief city tour. They have water and umbrellas available.

Reserve your Portland Explorer Tour tickets here.

Portland Fire Tours

Is there a cooler way to do a city tour than on a vintage fire truck? I don’t think so!

See the top sights in Portland, Maine in the comfort of an open-air, covered fire truck. They even have authentic fire jackets and hats you can wear!

Reserve your Portland Fire Tour tickets here.

Thanks to Lucky Catch Cruises and Visit Portland for hosting me. All opinions are my own.


Author

Marcie writes the family travel blog Marcie in Mommyland. When she's not traveling the world, she's home in Seattle with her husband and two little boys.

6 Comments

  1. Lovely and highly detailed article! I am not much of a fishing gal but now ever I want to go try this out! When I make it to Portland, Maine you can bet that it will be on my list of sites to see!

    • I’m not either, but this was so fun! The crew are fantastic and really make it an awesome experience!

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