Harbor Cruises & Whale Watch Tours, Boston
There are plenty of cruises you can take for seeing the Boston skyline, but if you want a quick and cheap alternative the MBTA has ferries running across the harbour that offer great views as well. I took the F4 ferry from Charlestown Naval Dockyard to Long Wharf, Boston. It took about ten minutes. The ferry to the airport is probably great too.
A whale watch is definably a fun thing to do while you are in Boston. There are several whale watch tours from Boston. The link below is just one of them. There are also several from out of the city like from Gloucester. I've seen whales on every trip I've taken but it took several trips to get my photo of a whale jumping.
Do a google on "Boston Whale Watch Coupons" and maybe save a little money.
It may initially seem a tackily touristy thing to do but I found this cruise surprisingly interesting.
I don't 'do' such things normally. But the idea of getting onto the water and away from the city heat was very appealling, and I knew I'd get some good shots of the Boston skyline. So I bit the bullet and booked.
The cruise pootles around Boston Harbour (which is huge), ensuring that it is near 'Old Ironsides' for the cannonshot which marks the end of each day. For some reason my particular ship mis-timed its arrival, so we were still moving when the cannon was fired...but it mattered not because (pure luck!) I got a photo anyway (and, for a Brit, cannons firing is not really a big deal anyway).
There is a running commentary, which is helpful. Unless you are well up on Boston's geography and history you are not going to know what you are seeing, and the commentary included some extra bits o information as well.
If you've got a better camera than me, and it's a clear evening, you are certain to get some superb shots as the sun sets behind Boston's skyline.
So I would definitely recommend a sunset cruise if you are visiting Boston at a time when the weather is reasonable.
No need to worry about motion sickness unless you are very sensitive; unlike the whale watching tours this boat stays within the harbour's sheltered waters. As it's a big boat movement is minimised anyway. But do take an extra layer of clothing with you: it's always, always cooler out on the water.
I've added the website for the company I used, but there are others...sailing ships and dinner cruises. You can buy tickets at the booths on Long wharf as well as various other ouytlets and, of course, online.
..especially if, like me, you are likely not to have the chance foten (or ever again).
I chose the Boston Aquarium trip to Stellwaggon Bank National Marine Sanctuary. I suspect all the whale-watching trips from Boston Waterfront go to much the same spots, and are certainly much the same price, but this one fitted my schedule.
It's a long way out to the sanctuary (25 miles out to sea) so you can expect a not-so-interesting period once you have left Boston Harbour, with nothing to see but sea and sky.
You can also expect the sea to be like the sea..in other words, the boat will move around. How much it moves obviously depends on weather and sea conditions but if you are the least bit prone to motion sickness please do take appropriate medication before you set out. Seeing people vomiting (as I did) is no more pleasant for observers than it is for the sufferer.
Did we see whales? Yes, of course..it's a marine sanctuary, so the chances are very high. You get a free trip if you don't see any whales. The commentary (which included aspects of Boston Harbour as well as info about the whales) was interesting.
On my trip the whales were 'logging'. That is, they were just lying around in the water doing nothing very much. They were quite a way from the boat and taking photos was pretty much impossible with my ordinary cameras.
But yes, I saw humpback whales...and that made me very pleased indeed. :-)
Oh..it is always chillier at sea than on land. Even though temperatures were in the 90s in Boston we all needed an extra layer or two, so make sure you take suitable extra clothing. And something to tie back your hair as well, if it's long...even if the day is not windy it's very windy when the boat picks up speed!
One of the most recognizable vessels in Boston Harbor, the Spirit of Boston provides a elegant dining experience with amazing views of the Boston Skyline. Although itineraries may vary, you will travel as far north as the Mystic River and south to Castle Island and Fort Independence. The cruises are all within the inner harbor and outer islands, you will not be on open ocean water. The ship has four decks, two dance floors and three new full service bars. It is handicap accessible and Coast Guard certified for up to 600 guests. Spirit of Boston offers lunch and dinner cruises, which cost approximately $38 and $87 respectively. Specialty packages are offered throughout the season as well, including a Lobster Clambake. A wonderful way to spend a Summer night in Boston.
We chartered the Majestic Princess for a sunset dinner cruise and murder mystery. It was so much fun!
We started out sailing away from the harbor and along the river where we passed the SS Constitution just as the sun began to set and the canon was fired. We tore ourselves away from the views of the city to pay attention to the clever troupe of actors who were involving the employees in their murder mystery. The several actors and their musician sang, chatted and introduced us all to their very weird story as the murder unfolded. As we ate the excellent buffet dinner they wandered from table to table, letting us all get to know them and ask them questions in our quest to solve the question of who committed the murder.
The 3 hour cruise flew by and nobody was ready when it was time to deboard. It was a great evening.
Sightseeing boats are around at the wharfs. A couple typical are below. Cruise times are usually one or towo hours. Costs is maybe $18-20 normally. There are regular boats and riverboats, and converted tugs.
This is a wonderful way to spend two hours and enjoy a lovely meal. I planned our work outing and chose the Odyssey because I can't think of a better thing to do on a hot summer's day than to vist Boston's waterfront and then get on a boat. And the price is great too. For approx. $58 a person you're served a 3 course lunch, have access to all boat decks, get a guided tour of the harbor and there's a band that plays the fun kind of "lounge" music that makes you wanna sit back and have a martini.... And you can do that too, if you want!
As you board you're seated in the dining room and served lunch. However, since we had also had breakfast at a waterfront restaurant, our group decided to spend the first hour on the decks (There are two.) to enjoy the sun and sights and then had our lunch at 1:00 instead.
Okay, I've never done a Codzilla cruise but I have taken cruises of the Boston harbor and since I snapped this great photo of the boat....well, here you go.
I did, however, look up the website and have posted it below. So, if this looks like something you'd like to do then this tip will bring you one step closer to finding out what it's about.
Boston Harbor contains Boston Harbor Islands National Park, 34 islands with various historical sites, recreation areas, and natural preserves. Some of the most famous areas are the historic Boston Light on Little Brewster Island and Fort Warren on Georges Island.
The newest addition to the park is Spectacle Island which was used in the 1990s as a location to dump the excess earth from the construction of the Ted Williams Tunnel. Today Spectacle has a marina, restaurants, and other recreation.
We took a whale watching trip in Aug 2001 for my mother's birthday. It was probably early for migration season, but on our three-hour tour, we saw a good number of humpback and minky whales. I don't remember what we paid, but rates in 2006 were $35 per adult. The early trip leaves at 1000 most days, but in the summer there is also a 0830 trip.
Trips run from July through October.
On the cruise you also get a great view of the city, the harbor, Boston Lighthouse, the airport, Fort Independence and more.
Take the opportunity to go out on a boat tour on the Atlantic Ocean for whale watching. Starting in May through the autumn, various whales, including humpback, minke, and finback, come to the area to feed for the summer. You can take a boat tour out from one of the Boston wharfs to catch glimpes of the whales. Most of the tours are between 3-4 hours.
The day we went was a particular abundant day of whale activity. The guides said that we had a particularly high amount of sightings. After about 90 min of traveling, we stopped to see several whales in action. We saw quite a few humbacks, one right next to our boat doing spins and other acrobatics in the water. We even saw one breech and jump from the water. There were beautiful displays of feeding habits and full shows of the flukes as they dove down. It was quite an experience to see such beautiful creatures in the wild and so close.
There are several companies but the most popular are the New England Aquarium and the Boston Harbor Cruises. Get off at the Aquarium T stop (Blue Line) and head towards the aquarium. (Longs Wharf) You will not miss the many trolley tour companies and the boothes for the whale watch tours. The cost is about $35.
Taking a harbor cruise is a lovely way to spend about an hour in your day. You can board most of them in the area by the aquarium and if you take one of the trolley tours of the city a harbor cruise is usually included. The one I did took about 45 minutes and offered some great views of the Boston skyline. The commentary was average, but it was a beautiful day and everybody was out on the water. I really enjoyed the sailboats and other vessels that floated around us and some of my best pictures came from that trip. They offered small snacks and beverages, including beer, on the boat but only take cash.
On one off my day's in Boston we make a Whale Watch trip, sailing abouth 2 hours from Boston with the depart from the New England Aquarium, we go on the New Catamaran Voyager III, the only vessel in Boston built specifically for whale watching.
We leave the beautufull skyline of Boston behind us.
We couldn't travel all this way and not try this. Not being a lover of water, I didn't enjoy the boat trip out, although everyone else did, but the experience of seeing these huge creatures was worth it. The trip was a conservation led one and the commentary was brilliant. Seeing these things in theire natural habitat was incredible. They were almost playing with us, blowing whale breath at people hanging over the side. Quite a long trip, but the weather was amazing, and it's something I will never forget.