About the American Rover

About Us


Set sail with a tradition of excellence aboard the Sailing Ship American Rover. Since 1986, the American Rover’s red tanbark sails have been one of the signature sights of the Hampton Roads area. Cruises depart from Waterside Marina on the Downtown Norfolk Waterfront — conveniently located in the heart of Coastal Virginia — just 30 minutes from Virginia Beach and 80 minutes from Williamsburg. From April through October, she sails the smooth waters of the Elizabeth River and Hampton Roads Harbor on daily two-hour narrated harbor and sunset cruises. On board, guests can lend a hand with the sails, take a turn at the helm, or just sit back, relax and enjoy the experience. The American Rover is one of the area’s most popular venues for private parties — corporate events, weddings, rehearsal dinners, reunions, birthday bashes, promotions, retirements, and any event that deserves to be memorable. A complete line of catering, bar service, and entertainment is available. The American Rover is Coast Guard Certified and Inspected to carry up to 129 passengers. She is 135 feet in length and is a three-masted topsail schooner. There is ample comfortable seating with shade topside. Below decks, you will find two smartly appointed climate-controlled lounges, ship’s store and bar, and clean, comfortable restrooms.

sail boat
sail boat
sail boat

Vessel Specifications


The American Rover hull was built in Panama City, FL. She was fitted out in the Willoughby area of Norfolk, VA, and put into service in Downtown Norfolk in 1986. She is a Three Masted Top Sail Schooner. Her design is inspired by the 19th-century cargo schooners that once sailed the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Seaboard. Check out our cruises and special events and plan a sail with us soon!

Length overall – 135 feet

Length on deck – 98 feet

Beam – 24 feet

Draft – 9 feet

Displacement – 105 tons

Sail area – 5,000 square feet

Hull – steel

Top speed – 11.5 knots

Passenger capacity – 129

Designer – Merritt Walter

Nor-fok or Naw-fok, no matter how you pronounce it, the experience will always be the same: fun, vibrant entertainment and culture, delicious cuisine, and 144 miles of shoreline waiting to be explored! With the Chesapeake Bay, Atlantic Ocean, and countless rivers in our backyard, you are never far from the water; you can experience intense water sports, leisurely sails, or simply enjoy the view from your hotel room. Take a tour of the Elizabeth River harbor on a majestic tall ship, sip on some of the best wines around at Mermaid Winery, Virginia’s very first urban winery, or watch world-renowned artists blow glass at the Chrysler Museum Glass Studio. If history is your thing, sign up for a boat or land tour of the world’s largest Naval Base, stop by the MacArthur Memorial, or walk the Cannonball Trail.

Still looking for reasons to visit Norfolk? You can jam out to some of the nation’s best music at the NorVA, named “Venue that Rocks” the hardest by Rolling Stone magazine. There are antique shops, coffee houses, and breweries galore in the hip, historic Ghent district just a few minutes from downtown. And Norfolk is friendly to our local environment, with more than 45 registered LEED buildings as well as hotels, restaurants, and attractions participating in the Virginia Green program. There is truly something for everyone here!

students in the wheelhouse
mermaid