Hartford River Cruises provides a whole new view of Hartford and the surrounding area via the Connecticut River. MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price spoke with Founder Brian Downey to learn more.
NAN PRICE: What inspired you to create this business?
BRIAN DOWNEY: When my wife passed away in October 2020, I decided I wanted to do something big and bold to honor her. That’s what ultimately prompted me to take this big step.
I wanted to do something not only big and bold, but I wanted to do something that was good for the community. I think starting this business checked all those boxes. I had a boat in mind, which we named the Kathryne Elizabeth after my wife.
NAN: When did you formally start the business?
BRIAN: I started looking at the boat in December. I had to give it a lot of thought because it’s an expensive venture. I finally decided to go for it around April and I bought the boat in May.
NAN: Why Hartford?
BRIAN: I took a good look at Hartford, which has come a long way in the past 30 years, both economically and environmentally, and it just made a lot of sense.
What really led me to Hartford was the dock area at Mortenson Riverfront Plaza was turnkey. It was totally suitable for commercial operation. So that part was good. The river’s totally navigable. So that was all good. And then economically, there’s the Connecticut Science Center, the Hartford Yard Goats are in town, and the Connecticut Convention Center is here, in addition to all the more traditional places nearby, like the Mark Twain House and Museum, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, and the Harriet Beecher Stowe House.
We’re looking to tap into some synergy with all those other businesses and attractions and make it more like a real Hartford experience.