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Tennessee Aquarium Now Offering “River Gorge Explorer” Cruises
Hi-Speed Catamaran the First of Its Kind to Operate on an Inland Waterway

Chattanooga, Tenn. (September 25, 2008) – The Tennessee Aquarium is now offering an exciting new journey on the Chattanooga Riverfront. Visitors have the opportunity to extend their Aquarium experience by venturing into the heart of “Tennessee’s Grand Canyon.” The River Gorge Explorer transports as many as 70 passengers – up to four times daily - into the Gorge to experience this unspoiled stretch of the Tennessee River. This hi-speed catamaran is the first of its kind to operate on an inland waterway in North America.

River Gorge Explorer

Boarding the Tennessee Aquarium’s River Gorge Explorer is an experience unlike any other for most guests. The sleek design of this vessel is packed with extraordinary technology that enhances the boat’s performance and passenger comfort.

The River Gorge Explorer launches at the Chattanooga Pier next to the Tennessee Aquarium. Four water jets propel this catamaran-style watercraft smoothly and swiftly downstream during each two hour cruise. Angled seating allows each guest to relax in the climate-controlled cabin and enjoy the scenic beauty and wildlife through oversized windows and overhead sky panes. An onboard concession kiosk offers guests an opportunity to purchase refreshments.

Once inside the Gorge, guests will step out onto a topside viewing deck to enjoy searching for eagles, osprey and other animals that live within this protected habitat. A Tennessee Aquarium naturalist will point out native plants and animals, discuss the rich history of the Gorge and emphasize the importance of conservation efforts.

The Tennessee River Gorge Trust has been able to preserve over 16,000 acres of land within this incredibly rich area. The right combination of geographic location and terrain has produced micro-climates sustaining one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the world.

The Gorge is home to more than 1,000 varieties of plants, and hundreds of animal species and has been designated a United Nation’s Biosphere Reserve. The vast, unbroken habitat bordering the river makes this stretch of Tennessee a birder’s paradise. Neo-tropical migratory species as well as native songbirds and raptors thrive within this protected habitat.

Historically, the area has been a cradle of civilization providing people with all the essential ingredients for survival. In fact, archaeological sites on Williams Island suggest people have been hunting, gathering and farming in the Gorge since the end of the last ice age, 10 to12,000 years ago. More recent history reminds us of the raging waters of a wilder Tennessee River and the navigational hazards early American settlers had to contend with. The Gorge also played a role in the course of the Civil War.

Now the journey that takes you from the mountains to the sea in the two Aquarium buildings will be deepened. This will be a real opportunity to build on the freshwater to saltwater learning experience by adventuring into this amazing habitat aboard the River Gorge Explorer.

Tennessee Aquarium member prices will be $24 for adults and $18 per child. Pricing for non-members will be $29 for adults and $ 21.50 per child. All children under 3 riding the River Gorge Explorer will be charged $18.00. They are counted as a passenger according to U.S. Coast Guard Regulations. The River Gorge Explorer will also be available for private company outings or special events.

Tennessee Aquarium’s River Gorge Explorer Specifications

Overall length: 65 feet
Beam: 23.5 feet
Draft at rest: 3 feet
Cruising draft: Less than one foot
Engines: Caterpillar C-18
Rating: 875 horsepower / 2300 rpm
Max Speed: 50 mph (approx.)
Passengers: 70
Certification: U.S. Coast Guard, Subchapter T


The Tennessee Aquarium inspires wonder and appreciation for the natural world. Admission is $19.95 per adult and $12.95 per child, ages 3-12. Each ticket purchased helps support Aquarium conservation programs. The IMAX® 3D Theater is next door to the Aquarium. Ticket prices are $8.50 per adult and $6.00 per child. Aquarium/IMAX combo tickets are $25.95 for adults and $17.95 for children. Advance tickets may be purchased online at or by phone at 1-800-262-0695. The Aquarium, located on the banks of the Tennessee River in Chattanooga, is a non-profit organization. Open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Aquarium and IMAX are accessible to people with disabilities. Members enjoy unlimited visits and other benefits. Call 267-FISH to join.
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