Tickets for the tour can be purchased from Massachusetts Bay Lines at 60 Rowes Wharf, very close to Boston Public Market. The cost of the tour, which can be 1 or 2 hours long, depending on whether or not you disembark, is $11.95 for adults or $8.95 for children. This is a good deal considering that Duck Tours and trolley tours around town are about the same duration, but cost upwards of $25.
The tours run every hour until 5pm. We came in the late afternoon and found that our group of four was sharing the ship with only four other people. Our ship, the Nantascot, looked a little worn and not exactly like the "replica steamer" they advertise on the website. Some shade on the deck would have been appreciated.
The actual time on the water is 1 hour. During this time, the tour guide over a loudspeaker points out various points of interest, ranging from Trinity Church to Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge to worthwhile restaurants along the harbor. The tour guides themselves aren’t the best—they’re probably high-school or college kids working for the summer—but they still do a fairly decent job. There was excessive use of the exclamation "Kazaa!" but I guess they have to keep things interesting for themselves somehow.
About 40 minutes into the tour, you’ll stop at the USS Constitution and USS Cassin Young. You can disembark here if you’d like, visit these two ships, and then catch the next ship back to Rowes Wharf, which is what we did. Alternatively, this is one end of the Freedom Trail, so you can continue with that instead of returning to Rowes Wharf.
The USS Constitution, or "Old Ironsides" as it is affectionately called, is the oldest commissioned ship in the US Navy. After going through security, you can either walk around the deck of this ship built in 1797 or get a chance to go below deck with a tour (every 30 minutes until 3:30pm). It’s a beautiful ship with tall masts and cannons still at the ready. Adjacent to the USS Constitution is the USS Cassin Young, a World War II destroyer. You can walk throughout the deck of this ship and see everything, from the Combat Information Center to the kitchen. The large guns on the ship are impressive, and there’s also a partially dismantled torpedo that’s worth a look.
We still had some time before the hour was up, so I purchased fresh-squeezed lemonade and waited at the pier for the Nantascot. It was a short 20 minutes back to Rowes Wharf.
by Dennis Ko
Durham, North Carolina
August 12, 2005
From journal Convincing my sister to enjoy living in Boston