Boston Harbor Cruises
Want to know a unique way to see an learn about the Boston coastline? Then take a Boston Harbor Cruise! There’s many different type of cruises available and they all fit into your sight-seeing schedule.
1812 Bicentennial Celebration
Tall Ships and naval vessels from across the world are coming to Boston June 30 – July 6 to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812, the historic role played by the US
Navy and our very own USS Constitution in the conflict, and the composing of our national anthem – The Star Spangled Banner
Visit one of Boston’s most treasured landmarks, the USS Constitution. This 45-minute, informative tour brings you up close and personal with “Old Ironsides” at her home in the Charlestown Navy Yard and offers the option to disembark for a tour of the famous ship and accompanying Naval Museum. Other highlights of the tour include the Bunker Hill Monument, the site of The Boston Tea Party, and the Old North Church.
March 31 – November 25 – Daily, every hour on the half hour from 10:30 AM – 4:30 PM
Historic Boston Sight-Seeing Tour
Discover the historic and contemporary milestones of Boston’s inner and outer harbors during this fun, informative, fully narrated 90-minute tour. From the hero tales of the Revolutionary War to the local legends of the sea, you’ll be entertained and enthralled. See how the harbor was transformed to one of the cleanest harbors in the country. Other highlights you’ll see include the nation’s oldest continuously manned lighthouse, the Harbor Islands National Park Area, Boston’s working port and examples of extravagant waterfront living.
May 12 – September 3 –Daily – 11:00 AM, 1:00 PM & 3:00 PM
September 4 – September 30 – Weekends Only – 11:00 AM, 1:00 PM & 3:00 PM
Charles River & Locks Cruise
A narrated 90-minute tour of Boston’s Inner Harbor and the Charles River. Your tour will take you by the USS Constitution, Bunker Hill Monument and Old North Church before proceeding through the Charles River Locks. As you sail along the Charles River enjoy spectacular views of the Boston and Cambridge skylines. Points of interest along the Charles River include the world’s widest cable-stayed bridge, Esplanade Park, M.I.T., Beacon Hill, and Back Bay.
June 23rd – September 2nd – Weekdays – 12:00 PM, Weekends – 10:00 AM, 12:00 PM & 2:00 PM
A spectacular sunset adds a whole new dimension to this fully narrated, 90-minute sightseeing tour. With this cruise you’ll be introduced to all the history, sights and lore that Boston Harbor has to offer, plus you’ll be on hand to witness the USS Constitution’s traditional sunset ritual as she fires her cannon and lowers her flag ceremoniously signaling the day’s end.
May 12th – September 3rd – Daily – 7:00 PM
September 4rth – September 23rd – Thursday – Sunday – 6:00 PM
A large and important part of New England’s heritage are the lighthouses which once kept sailors from navigating too close to shore. Many of these structures remain standing and in use today, and Boston Harbor Cruises is pleased to take you to them.
Expert members of the American Lighthouse Foundation narrate our tours. They begin in Boston with passes by Long Island Head Light and Deer Island Light, and then a pass by Boston Light, the oldest lighthouse station in America. Heading north, the tour will pass by Graves Light, Hospital Point Light, Marblehead Light, Fort Pickering Light, Baker’s Island Light, Eastern Point Light, Ten Pound Island Light, Straitsmouth Island Light and more. The Northern Lights tour culminates with a view of Thacher Island, site of the only still operating twin lighthouses left in the country.
*See website for details on different 5 hour cruises.
Daily Luncheon Cruise
With BHC’s Luncheon Cruise, you not only enjoy a sumptuous buffet, it’s the only cruise that also lets you feast on the sights and sounds of Boston’s Historic Past.
An engaging narrator will join you on-board this two-hour tour through Boston’s Inner and Outer Harbor. All kinds of fun, informative anecdotes of the city’s history. Throughout the cruise, you’re invited to explore the vessel and its three spacious decks for the best views of Boston and its many highlights, including the USS Constitution, Old North Church, Boston Light and the Boston Harbor Islands.
May 21st – September 3rd –Weekdays – 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM (boarding begins at 11:30 AM)
Weekend Brunch Cruise with David Coffin
Picture a superbly prepared brunch. Now imagine you’re enjoying that splendid cuisine aboard a smartly appointed cruise boat. As you savor the menu and drink in the ocean views from three spacious decks, you also feast on many of Boston’s treasured landmarks – the USS Constitution, Old North Church, Boston Light and the Boston Harbor Islands. You will also see firsthand how Boston became home to one of the cleanest harbors in the country.
Throughout this leisurely two-hour tour of Boston’s Inner and Outer Harbor, local performer and raconteur, David Coffin, will share with you his unique take on Boston’s rich and vibrant history. Sounds like a fun and relaxing way to spend your Saturday or Sunday.
May 26th – October 8th – Weekends – 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM (boarding begins at 11:30 AM)
See incredible sights, experience theater on the water, or dance the night away, whichever you choose we guarantee there’s fun on these cruises for everyone.
Summer Harbor Salsa Cruise Series
This may be, by far, Boston’s hottest harbor dance cruise. Each week during the summer, SalsaBoston.com along with Avive Productions and Boston Harbor Cruises invites you to meet people, learn to dance and take in the city’s unbelievable skyline. Dockside pre-party featuring salsa lessons and tropical cocktails. Once you’re on board, there are two decks of dancing with DJ D. Martinez spinning Salsa on the mid-deck and DJ Mike Mercado spinning Latin on the lower deck all evening. An authentic Latin buffet on board. And don’t forget the after-cruise party at Mojitos Lounge with free admission for cruise attendees.
Boston Ghost Cruise
Join the world-famous Mystery Cafe and Boston Harbor Cruises as you climb aboard the Boston Ghost Cruise for a thrilling, frightening, and fun journey into terror.
A professional troop brings the legends and folklore of Boston Harbor to life. Or should we say, death? See the actual sites that gave rise to tales of bloody betrayal, disastrous shipwrecks, gruesome executions, and terrifying ghostly encounters. Stephen King, eat your heart out.
Boston Harbor Mystery Cruise
It’s three hours of food, fun and fantasy on Boston Harbor as we introduce an all-new murder mystery dinner cruise.
But this Mystery Cruise is hardly your typical sit-down dinner (although it does offer gourmet food stations). It’s a cocktail party format where you witness a murder, search the boat, question the characters and solve the crime. Think of it as Agatha Christie meets Alfred Hitchcock meets CSI:Boston Harbor. Wow, maybe there’s a reality show somewhere in there.
History of Boston Harbor Cruises
Matthew “Matty” Hughes claims two important places in history. At the tender age of 16 he became the youngest licensed captain ever in the port of Boston, and in 1926 he founded New England’s premier cruise company, what is today the nation’s largest private operator of passenger vessels, Boston Harbor Cruises.
Given Matty’s glorious obsession with boats and Boston Harbor, no one was surprised when, soon after obtaining his license, he struck a deal with a local boat owner to operate the M/V Nelly with two full-time employees on a 30-minute cruise of the Charles River at a cost of 10¢.
For the next 16 years, area residents, in an attempt to escape the oppressive summer heat in their Boston flats, created a steady stream of seasonal customers for Matty and his cruises. Service had to be interrupted though in 1942 when Matty enlisted in the United States Navy, serving as a Seabee through the end of World War II.
Returning home from service in 1945, Matty resumed operations at Boston Harbor Cruises, expanding the business to operate vessels inside Boston Harbor and on the Charles River. For more than a decade these sightseeing excursions ran three times daily for a fare of $2.00. It was during this era that Boston Harbor Cruises became a true family run enterprise with Matty’s daughters, Rookie and Rita, coming on board, followed closely by their kids.
Around 1960, the family made a decision to switch the emphasis of their cruises to deep-sea fishing expeditions. Passengers would charter day and overnight trips for the amazing price of $6 for a full day in order to be able to cast their lines in search of cod, haddock, halibut, blue fish, tuna and more.
Fishing charters remained the company’s specialty until the late 1970s when Boston’s waterfront exploded with development. Tourist attractions such as the New England Aquarium and Faneuil Hall Marketplace brought a record number of visitors to the waterfront, and to Matty’s front door. Given this new opportunity, Boston Harbor Cruises moved back into the sightseeing market, but this time it would be Matty’s grandchildren, including current principles Rick and Chris Nolan who would be at the helm.
In the 1980s, their leadership was instrumental in BHC securing a contract with the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority to provide water transportation services between downtown Boston and Charlestown, a heavily traveled commuter route. This transformed BHC from a seasonal business to a year-round venture transporting more than 200,000 additional passengers each year. Since then, the MBTA has awarded 4 additional commuter ferry contracts to the company, the largest carrying 4,000 passengers per day.
Today, the company continues to grow with Rick, Chris and great-granddaughter Alison Nolan as its managing partners. They’ve parlayed their 93 years of maritime operations and management into building a fleet that has operated successfully in Massachusetts Bay, New York, Rhode Island, The US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
BHC’s 250 employees uphold the company’s hard-won reputation for safety and courtesy by incorporating the most high-tech, up-to-date advancements in customer service, technology and training. This extra effort ensures all 21 BHC vessels are ready for the 264 scheduled weekday morning departures they make each year, and that the more than 2 million passengers who travel with BHC get the most enjoyable trip possible.
Photos By Melissa Tyler