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Extreme water: Refresh itineraries with aquatic adventures


Pack the sunscreen. Groups are entertaining new ways to experience the thrill of water — from jet boats and stand-up paddleboards to waterpark raft rides.

Some prefer to relax on calm and tranquil blue waters, while others like to thrash in turbulent and roiling currents. Regardless of speed, adding a few waves will exhilarate any group during these five water experiences.

Jet Boat Colorado
De Beque, Colorado

Jet Boat Colorado, Colorado River, Colo.

Photo: Jet Boat Colorado Jet Boat Colorado, Colorado River, Colo.

There’s no need to leave the country to ride in a New Zealand-style jet boat — part raft, part rodeo and part race car. With Jet Boat Colorado, groups have the choice of either thrilling adventure tours or relaxed scenic tours.

“Jet Boat Colorado is the most exciting river boat tour on the Colorado River,” said Joe Keys, manager at Jet Boat Colorado. “There is nothing else like it. Both cover the same sections of river, but the adventure trip is wet, wild and unlike any boat tour most people have experienced. The scenic trip is a dry ride and the focus is on seeing the wildlife and sights.”

The adventure trip features cowboy spins, fishtails, power slides and speed runs. Groups feel the power and performance of a jet boat — and should plan on a surge of adrenaline and getting wet.

The scenic trip slows things down while a fun and knowledgeable driver shares the history, geology and lore of the Colorado River.

Groups may use the riverside picnic area with shade, tables and great views — and there’s plenty of space for motorcoach parking.

Patriot Jet Boat Thrill Ride
Flagship Cruises & Events
San Diego, California

Patriot Jet Boat, San Diego, Calif.

Photo: Flagship Cruises & Events Patriot Jet Boat, San Diego, Calif.

Get ready for speed, screams and splashes. Hop aboard the Patriot jet boat for an entertaining, turbo-charged tour of San Diego’s most scenic waterfront spots. Groups zip and zoom past military ships, along the downtown skyline and under the iconic Coronado Bridge.

“With rock music pumping, feel the wind and the refreshing spray of San Diego Bay as the Patriot carves 360-degree turns and reaches speeds upward of 50 mph,” said Tim Rongley, director of marketing for Flagship Cruises & Events. “There’s nothing like it.”

Located downtown along the embarcadero between the USS Midway and Broadway pier, the Patriot jet boat can carry 129 passengers.

“It’s a great opportunity for a group experience — a thrilling and fast 30 minutes in a jet boat with two 1,400-horsepower jet propelled engines,” Rongley said. “Our professional crew is the best in the business at providing San Diego visitors with experiences they will remember for a lifetime.”

Flagship Cruises & Events owns and operates San Diego’s largest and finest fleet, ranging from luxury high-end yachts and whale-watching vessels to harbor tour boats and the iconic Coronado Ferry.

Infinity Falls
Orlando, Florida

The highly anticipated Infinity Falls is now open at SeaWorld

Infinity Falls, Aquatica, Orlando, Fla.

Photo: SeaWorld Orlando Infinity Falls, Aquatica, Orlando, Fla.

Orlando’s Aquatica, taking its place in the Orlando skyline. Infinity Falls features the world’s tallest drop on a river raft ride. The whimsical tower structure, blending modern architecture with ancient ruins, reaches a height of 67 feet and surrounds the attraction’s vertical lift.

Aboard the ride’s eight-passenger circular rafts, groups embark on an adventure through a lush rainforest environment inspired by some of the world’s freshwater ecosystems. The attraction features dynamic drops and interactive water elements, and allows visitors to experience the feel of exhilarating rapids.

Earlier this year, Aquatica also opened Ray Rush, an attraction that brings groups together as they take on three exciting slide elements in rafts that seat up to four riders.

“The combination of these three unique slide elements seamlessly blended into one attraction creates a ride experience that is both thrilling and group-friendly; it’s the perfect addition to our slide portfolio,” said David Heaton, Aquatica vice president. “The experience on Ray Rush is unlike anything offered in Florida. Aquatica is the first waterpark in the state to combine these three unique elements into one attraction.”

Roanoke Mountain Adventures
Roanoke, Virginia

Travel writer Kirsten Akens and Group Tour Media associate editor Cortney Erndt, Roanoke Mountain Adventures, Roanoke River, Va.

Photo: Taylor Spellman/ Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge Travel writer Kirsten Akens and Group Tour Media associate editor Cortney Erndt, Roanoke Mountain Adventures, Roanoke River, Va.

A full-service outfitter promoting outdoor adventure, Roanoke Mountain Adventures’ many recreational experiences include water activities like kayaking, tubing and stand-up paddle boarding.

“Our hope is that groups enjoy and learn enough from their experience to go and do it on their own afterward,” said James Revercomb, co-owner of Roanoke Mountain Adventures. “We strive to show people how enjoyable outdoor recreation can be.”

  Roanoke Mountain Adventures’ experienced staff leads guided trips and also rents out high-quality gear for top-notch recreation.

The half-day guided kayaking trip is a 6-mile stretch from Rotary Park in Salem back to Roanoke Mountain Adventures. Self-guided trips also are available. And groups looking for an extra relaxing experience should consider tubing.

Visitors up for a new experience can take part in a Paddleboard Instructional Trip with a certified guide on flat water. The James River Trip offers more a challenge for experienced stand-up paddle-boarders with moving water and Class I rapids.

“Stand-up paddleboarding is a great way to get out and enjoy the water and natural environment, all while getting a great, full-body workout,” Revercomb said. “We get lots of groups that are new to the sport and paddling in general. It is never too late to try something new.”

Jerry’s Rogue Jets
Gold Beach, Oregon

Jerry’s Rogue Jets, Rogue River, Ore.

Photo: Jerry’s Rogue Jets Jerry’s Rogue Jets, Rogue River, Ore.

With a fleet of 12 hydro-jet vessels, Jerry’s Rogue Jets depart from the Port of Gold Beach on the Oregon coast to enter the Rogue wilderness. The trips are a blend of rugged scenery, abundant wildlife, Pacific coastal estuary, personalized commentary and adventurous whitewater jet boating.

And uniquely, it’s a mail trip. Jerry’s has been delivering mail to Agness, Oregon, since 1895 — and continues the tradition six days a week throughout the year.

“We are a must-do trip for all tour buses operating on the Oregon Coast,” said Bill McNair, owner and manager since 1972. “The Rogue River is protected as one of the eight original Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968 for the outstanding and remarkable wilderness river character. Each pilot narrates history and stories, and stops for wildlife photography.”



About Author

Cortney Erndt, Associate Editor

Cortney Erndt oversees Student Group Tour magazine and contributes to all Group Tour Media publications, online and in print. She has an affinity for adventure travel; find her on a sky ledge — maybe sky diving — and reporting on it. Her favorite destinations connect cityscapes with captivating culture and good coffee.

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