News : Cast off with Thomas Laighton

Jun 3, 2013

From Foster's Daily Democrat  

By Heikki Perry

PORTSMOUTH — Among the most enduring signs that summer lies just around the corner is the sight of the M/V Thomas Laighton plying its way around Portsmouth Harbor. And while residents and visitors alike associate the vessel with fun and exploration, the Thomas Laighton also exemplifies environmental action.

The Thomas Laighton is the cruise ship of the Isles of Shoals Steamship Company, an iconic Seacoast institution. Having been in Portsmouth since 1962, the ISSCo. is truly part of the community. Originally founded as Viking Cruises by Arnold Whittaker, the Steamship Company is still in the family, having been passed along first to Arnold’s son, Bob, and most recently, in 1999, to Arnold’s daughter-in-law, Robin Whittaker.

The company offers a variety of tours to New Hampshire’s historic Isles of Shoals and throughout Portsmouth Harbor and the Greater Piscataqua Region.

ISSCo.’s regular schedule begins June 22 with daily trips around the Isles of Shoals from Tuesday through Sunday. And starting at 9:25 a.m. every Sunday, Wednesday and Friday of the summer, ISSCo. will also run Star Island walking tours, the walking tours a family-friendly activity that take about an hour to explore an area containing a lot of interesting history. The boat returns to Portsmouth at 1:15 p.m. There is also an extended Monday’s Star Island Walking Tour that runs from 12:55 to 5:15 p.m.

Beyond those iconic tours, the company also charters the Thomas Laighton “party ship,” where during the summer hundreds pack the vessel to hear the best in local music — everything from rock cover bands to reggae to DJs — all while taking in the crisp evening air of summertime on the Seacoast. The company anticipates offering three or four “party cruises” a week this summer.

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