Coney Island Steamboat Company Launches Coney Island Cruise

The beautifully restored motor yacht Nellie Bly operated by the Coney Island Steamboat Company is ready to give nautical tours.

Coney Island native Gerard Thornton has returned to his roots and launched the Coney Island Steamboat Company, based in Sheepshead Bay. Beginning Saturday, July 13, the Coney Island Steamboat Company will offer narrated history cruises along the Coney Island shoreline, from Sheepshead Bay to Gravesend Bay. 

Captain Thornton grew up in Coney Island’s O’Dwyer Gardens housing project (where I once lived) and spent his childhood watching ships and tugs at sea from his window. This fascination led to SUNY Maritime College and a thirty-year career as a tugboat captain in New York Harbor. After selling his tugboat company, Thornton Towing and Transportation, he has realized his dream of giving nautical history tours of Coney Island and Jamaica Bay. Listen to Gerard Thornton's oral history

The tour boat is a 50-foot wooden motor yacht named the Nellie Bly. The boat can accommodate up to 49 passengers. A ticket for the two-hour tour is $35 for adults and $25 for children. Veterans and seniors are $25. The tours are available Saturday and Sunday at 11 am and 2 pm. Later in the season there will be fireworks cruises on Friday night and following Cyclones games. 

Thornton named the boat Nellie Bly, in tribute to the adventurous muckraking journalist who exposed horrific conditions at the women’s insane asylum on Blackwell’s island. Bly’s 1889 trip around the world in 73 days beat the fictional account of Jules Verne’s novel Around the World in 80 Days. The boat’s name is a fitting tribute to an early pioneer of women’s rights.

"Coney Island has a remarkable and rich history," said Captain Thornton. "The Coney Island Steamboat Company (CISCo) was established to bring the sights, sounds, and history of the Brooklyn waterfront to life for passengers looking for something a little bit different. Our tours provide narrated backstory to the geography, politics and personalities that shaped the neighborhoods of Coney Island and the surrounding area. We offer a fun and exciting way to explore the southern Brooklyn shoreline in a whole new way." The Coney Island History Project will be collaborating with the Coney Island Steamboat Company to provide archival materials for the tour.

Tickets and information at:

-- Charles Denson

Captain Gerard (right), deckhand Tyler (left), and Thornton's son Gage (rear), aboard the Nellie Bly.



Congratulations hope this adventure thrives its great to see a fellow domer succeed.

She's beautiful!
I can't wait to come aboard.
I really enjoyed listening to the podcast.
Best of luck with this exciting venture.

This is a great 2 hours on the water. My wife and I just did the 11am tour and we loved it. The narration of the history of Coney Island and the surrounding area was an added plus. Highly recommend and look forward to booking other tours with them.

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