While the word Eco-Tourism might evoke images of hiking through a remote rainforest or swimming in a clear alpine lake, there’s more to it than that. The International Eco-Tourism Society defines it as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” It almost always involves an aspect of education, as well as fun and adventure.

Guests on our cruises are engaging in an eco-tourism experience by supporting us and joining us in our efforts. For example, on our Osprey Eco-Cruises, you will learn about these amazing, once-endangered birds while observing them from a safe and respectful distance. On our Night Sky Cruises you’ll come to appreciate a clear, pollution free view of space over the rolling hills of the Finger Lakes, while enjoying Finger Lakes produced products, like cheeses, wine or ginger beer. BYOB! If you’re interested, join us for a Lake Monitoring Cruise to help conduct invasive species surveys or keep an eye out for harmful algal blooms to help us keep Cayuga’s waters clear and safe for swimming.


By participating in a cruise with Discover Cayuga Lake, you contribute to our educational mission. We provide opportunities for all members of the Ithaca community with our discounted community access cruises. We also offer educational programs for local kids and families at no cost or on a “pay what you can” basis. For students in Tompkins County and neighboring areas, we run a yearly Trout in the Classroom program in which kids raise trout for release in local streams. The program provides hands-on learning in STEM and sustainability. Your tourism revenue makes these programs possible!

You too can learn about local ecosystems by joining us on the MV Teal. On all of our cruises, our crew members will spark your curiosity by teaching you about the interesting ecology of Cayuga Lake. Environmental education is a pillar of ecotourism because those who appreciate nature are more likely to help protect it. At Discover Cayuga Lake, we provide opportunities for everyone to explore Cayuga’s waters as we strive to do our best to embrace the principles of eco-tourism as broadly as possible!


Lastly, if you are traveling to Ithaca for a cruise, you can minimize the environmental impact of your trip by staying at one of our many campgrounds or eating local at the Ithaca Farmers Market. On Earth Day and every other day of the year, there’s so much we can do together to lessen our environmental impact on the planet. Please join us!