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Boston Boat Tours and Harbor Cruises

From Sunset Sails to Whale Watching

Updated: April 11, 2024

During the warmer months of spring and summer, guests on our free Boston walking tours will often ask about how to take a cruise around the city.

To make the process easier to understand, we created this article which provides details about how to get tickets for Boston boat tours and similar services, including sightseeing tours, tall ship and sailboat outings, and dinner cruises.

Disclosure: While our recommendations are always unbiased, we may receive a small share of sales through some of the links below at no cost to you. See the full text.


There are several different ways to save money on cruises in Boston, and we will cover all the opportunities to save money on tickets available in this post.

Each section of this post includes a breakdown of the savings opportunities that each cruise company offers, including details about the best ways to save on every type of service.

Whenever it’s available, using a tourist pass is usually the best deal available for Boston cruises, because these passes allow you to save 50% or more on tickets for a variety of activities.

Another popular option is to use a deal site such as Groupon or LivingSocial. Each of these services provides promotional prices on activities like cruises and boat tours in Boston.

In addition to any low prices provided by these sites, they also frequently offer promotional offers for an extra 10% - 20% off or more.

The most typical offer comes in the form of lower prices for children, seniors, military and students. This opportunity will typically only save you a few dollars off of the regular price.

Boston harbor cruises typically leave from Long Wharf, which is within walking distance of the New England Aquarium and Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park. Some boat tours also leave from Rowes Wharf.

Depending on what time of year it is, you may want to adjust the type of clothing you wear during a cruise or boat tour.

If it’s colder outside, make sure to wear a windbreaker and bundle up. However, you may want to wear less on a warm day.

It’s worth noting that it’s usually pretty cold from October - March (15° C or lower), but from April - September you can expect some decent weather (20° C and higher). 

Don’t forget that it will always be (at least 5°-10°) colder out on the water than it is on land!

While a cruise on a tall ship or even a sightseeing boat tour will likely expose you to the wind, dining cruises are usually a lot slower paced and take place on enclosed vessels.

So keep in mind which type of tour you’re taking when deciding what to wear.

If you're interested in seeing humpback whales, dolphins, and other marine life out in the harbor, consider reading our post about whale watching in Boston.

How much is a Boston Harbor Cruise?

These services typically cost about $40-$50 per person, but depending on which one you choose, prices can go up to $200 or more!

How long is a Boston Harbor Cruise?

Depending on the cruise, you can usually expect these excursions to last for about 60-90 minutes on average. That said, some outings run for 3 hours or more!


Have you ever wanted to see the full skyline of Boston from its harbor? If so, these sightseeing cruises are a fantastic choice.

There are a total of 6 different opportunities to save money on tickets for a Boston sightseeing boat tour. 

  • Tourist Pass
  • Senior Offers
  • Children Offers
  • Free For Kids Under 3
  • Group Savings
  • Deal Sites

The best way to save money on this activity is through the use of a tourist pass, which could save you 50% or more.

Deal sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial often provide promotional offers that you can use for an additional 10% - 20% off, and they may even list a few more services than we do!


This company offers three sightseeing boat tours each focusing on a different section of the waters of Boston.

Boston Harbor City Cruises has an overall 4-star rating, which is a very respectable score.

With over 800 positive ratings on TripAdvisor and Get Your Guide (read the reviews), you can trust that this company is reliable.

In addition to its cruise services, this company also provides speed boat rides, sunset tours, whale watching trips, a water taxi, and ferries to Salem and Cape Cod.

See their full selection of water excursions.

Tours and Ticket Prices 

Historic Boston Sightseeing Cruise

A 60-minute tour of both the Inner and Outer Harbor.

  • $46 for Adults (ages 12-64)
  • $41 for Children (ages 3-11)
  • Free for children 2 and under


Boston Harbor Cruises currently provides the following savings on their services.

Things to Consider

The Historic Boston Sightseeing Cruise goes all around Boston Harbor, providing a great view of the city and its surrounding areas.

No matter what you want to see or how you want to see it, chances are that this company has a cruise or boat tour that will exceed your expectations. 

See their full selection of water excursions.


This is one of the biggest and most notable cruise companies in Boston. They provide dozens of different excursions out on the water. 

They also offer other cruises, including themed cruises and holiday tours for Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

This company has over 400 positive reviews on TripAdvisor, so it’s safe to say that they’re one of the most trustworthy tour services in the city.

Sporting an overall 5-star rating, Classic Harbor Line is definitely worthy of consideration.

Tour and Ticket Prices 

Historical New England Harbor Cruise

A 90-minute tour of historical sights.

  • $44.10 for Adults
  • $33.60 for Children (ages 3-14)
  • Free Children 2 and under


Classic Harbor Line currently offers the following savings opportunities on their cruises.

Things to Consider

The New England Harbor Cruise is seasonal, so it won’t be available during certain times of the year.

Fortunately, this company offers other seasonal boat trips that you may want to consider as an alternative. Find out about some of their other cruises.


Back in the 1600s, Boston was one of the biggest shipping ports, and shipments were made via tall ships – very large sailboats that could transport goods and passengers across the ocean.

To this day, you will still find these ships in Boston Harbor, and you can even enjoy a cruise on one of these historic boats.

There aren’t as many opportunities to save money on this type of cruise, but you can take advantage of the following offers with these companies.

Using one of these sites will give you the biggest possible savings for this type of service, and they frequently offer additional promotions you can use to save an extra 10% - 20% or more.


Travel the waters of Boston Harbor on the same kind of transportation used hundreds of years ago!

This company provides several different tour options, but their main service is a daily sail around the harbor in the Liberty Clipper.

The crew is both knowledgeable and experienced, offering a unique trip around Beantown.

Liberty Fleet has a 4-star rating and over 200 positive reviews on TripAdvisor.

NOTE: These boat tours are offered seasonally so be sure to check their schedule closely.

Ticket Prices 

Day Sail - Prices vary by peak/off-peak seasons

In addition to their public sailing options, they also offer charters for large groups.


This company currently offers the following savings opportunities on their services.

Things to Consider

Liberty Fleet offers six daily sails which last for 1 ½ – 2 hours. Beverages and snacks are provided to passengers upon request.

The captain and crew will do everything in their power to make you feel as comfortable as possible, but discovering what these trips were like for people in the 1600s is a part of the experience.

Some have described their overnight stay on a schooner as similar to camping because you’re definitely roughing it a bit more than you would on a ship with more amenities.

Even a 90-minute tour might be a bit too uncomfortable for some guests, so keep that in mind when deciding whether or not this is a cruise you actually want to take.


If you prefer a yacht to an old schooner, this company provides a service that might meet your needs. Unfortunately, they do not offer public sails, only private charter options.

With a required minimum charter of 2 hours, the trip is relatively expensive, but it’s worth the price for a private excursion.

Ultimately, you’re typically paying less than $100 per person for an exclusive experience on a lovely sailboat.

That’s actually a pretty good price, and they have excellent ratings to back up their prices.

Classic Sail Boston sports a flawless 5-star rating on TripAdvisor.

They have yet to receive even one negative review, and that’s definitely a good sign.

Charter Prices (up to 6 passengers)

  • Standard Charter (2 Hours): $565 
  • Half-Day Charter (4 Hours): $995 
  • Full-Day Charter (8 Hours): $1,495 (includes catered lunch)

How to Charter a Sailboat

You can call Classic Sail at 1-844-SAIL-BOS (1-844-724-5267). Alternatively, you can fill out a form on their website and wait for them to contact you.


There aren’t currently any good ways to save money on these cruises, but you may find their services on sites like Groupon/LivingSocial during the summer months.

Things to Consider

The longer you charter the boat, the more you’ll be able to experience it. While a 2-hour tour will take you around the inner harbor without any hassle.

In contrast, an 8-hour tour will take you out to the Harbor Islands! Full-Day Charters also include a free lunch and a visit to a national park.

Although sailboat charters may be more expensive, they do provide a nice contrast to the hustle and bustle of other tours and activities in Boston.


Boston’s Swan Boats have been around for over 140 years, so they must be doing something right! 

Located in the Public Garden just a few blocks from Charles River, this boat ride is one of the most affordable and family-friendly activities in the city.

Swan Boats have a 4 ½ star rating on TripAdvisor. A majority of passengers who have taken this boat ride enjoyed themselves quite a bit. 

According to reviewers, although the boat ride may not last for long, it is a peaceful adventure that you won’t soon forget.

Ticket Prices

  • $4.50 for Adults
  • $4.00 for Seniors
  • $3.00 for Children (ages 2-15)
  • Children under 2 ride free
  • Purchase tickets at the dock


There are a few decent opportunities to lower the price of tickets for Swan Boat rides.

While we would usually recommend a tourist pass to save money on this activity, the price is already so low that the children’s offer is almost certainly better.

Things to Consider

This service is only provided during the spring and summer months, but it is available pretty much every day during those seasons.

Each boat ride lasts about 15 minutes, and some have said that it can make for a nice break after walking around the gardens for a while.


If you’d rather enjoy a meal while cruising around the harbor, consider one of the following services.

In addition to dinner cruises, you’ll also find lunch, brunch, and even jazz cruises!

There aren’t a lot of ways to save money on these cruises, but you may want to consider some of the following options.

  • Children concession
  • Free For Kids Under 3
  • Rideshare Savings
  • Deal Sites | Groupon/LivingSocial

Without a doubt, sites like those listed above are the best opportunity to save money on tickets for this type of cruise.

These services frequently provide additional promotional offers for an extra 10% - 20% off.

The second best option is the Uber promo, which makes it easy to get to the harbor and back without a struggle and for a great price!


This company offers dining cruises in several different cities all over the United States.

They are well known for providing excellent service and fantastic meals.

In addition to their lunch and dinner cruise options, they also offer holiday and specialty cruises for special occasions.

One of their most popular specialty tours is a sunset dining cruise, which allows you to get a look at the skyline of Boston just as the sun goes down.

These services also include entertainment such as an onboard DJ and a dance floor, so you can even enjoy some romantic dancing while on this excursion.

Spirit of Boston has a 4-star rating on TripAdvisor. A majority of their reviews are positive.

Ticket Prices 

Lunch Cruise

  • $102.92 for Adults
  • $82.58 for Children (ages 3-12)
  • Free for children under 3

Dinner Cruise

  • $164.63 for Adults 
  • $164.63 for Children (ages 3-12)
  • Free for children under 3

Where to Purchase Tickets

We recommend booking your tickets online. The earlier you book these cruises, the better the chances are that you won’t run into any issues.


The following savings are currently available on Spirit Cruises.

  • Children concession
  • Free For Kids Under 3
  • Rideshare Savings ($30 off Uber)
  • Deal Sites | Groupon/LivingSocial

Things to Consider

In addition to the options listed above, Spirit Cruises also offers specialty Tallship dining cruises for about a week during the summer.

Depending on the time of year, you’ll also find a variety of holiday cruises available to celebrate special yearly events.

Spirit Cruises offers their customers $30 off Uber rides, bringing the cost of transportation down significantly and making it easier to get to the harbor and back without any problems.

Simply use the promo phrase SpiritBOS to receive this offer.


Odyssey is a sister company of Spirit Cruises. Odyssey offers buffet lunch, 3-course dinner, and brunch cruises. 

They also offer specialty and holiday cruises at various times throughout the year.

Their specialty options include a Starlight Dinner Cruise which is offered year-round. 

This boat tour is shorter than their typical excursion, lasting between 2-2 ½ hours on average.

As you might expect, the ticket is also much cheaper than some of their other offerings.

Although their service is very similar to what you’ll find with Spirit Cruises, there are subtle differences between the two companies.

Much like Spirit, Odyssey Cruises enjoys a 4-star rating on TripAdvisor.

Most of their reviews are extremely positive, but there are a handful of negative comments.

Ticket Prices  (prices vary by day of the week)

Lunch Cruise

  • $102.92 for Adults
  • $82.58 for Children (ages 3-12)
  • Free for children under 3

Brunch Cruise

  • $121.76 for Adults
  • $97.51 for Children (ages 3-12)
  • Free for children under 3

Dinner Cruise

  • $196.48 for Adults
  • $196.48 for Children (ages 3-12)
  • Free for children under 3

Where to Purchase Tickets

It is best to book your cruise online. Why worry about whether or not your seats will be available when you can just book them ahead of time?


This company offers the same ways to save as its competitors.

  • Children concession
  • Free For Kids Under 3
  • Rideshare Savings ($30 off Uber)
  • Deal Sites | Groupon/LivingSocial

Things to Consider

Spirit and Odyssey Cruises are sister companies.

However, each line offers different meals and excursions, so you’ll want to compare and contrast the two in order to find the boat trip that best fits your schedule.

They also offer a number of holiday cruises. Keep a lookout for these opportunities when they arise, because tickets may sell out fast for special events.

It should be noted that Odyssey offers the same promotion on Uber rides as its competitor, which means you can save $30 on a ride to or from the harbor.

Use the promo phrase ODYSSEYBOS to take advantage of this savings opportunity.


If you want to discover what this city looks like when all of the lights start turning on at night, consider a sunset boat tour or cruise from one of these fine establishments.

Each trip takes place at the perfect time to enjoy some of the most beautiful views in the city.

There are several different ways to save money on this type of cruise, including the following options.

  • Tourist Passes
  • Children concession
  • Senior concession
  • Military concession
  • Student concession
  • Free For Kids Under 5
  • Deal Sites | Groupon/LivingSocial

Without question, Boston Tourist Passes are the best way to save money on sunset outings, as you can save up to 50% or more on tickets.

You may also find some great opportunities to save money using one of the sites listed above instead because they often provide additional promotional offers for 10% - 20% off.


In addition to its daytime cruises, this company also provides sunset cruises and sailing opportunities around the Boston Harbor.

Each boat trip will take you by the U.S.S. Constitution, where the sound of cannon fire signals the setting of the sun.

Both services last for between 1 ½ - 2 hours, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the skyline as the sun goes down.

Tours and Ticket Prices 

Northern Lights Sunset Cruise  (90 minutes) 

Adirondack III Sunset Sail  (2 hours)


As with their daytime services, this company offers a lot of opportunities to save money on their sunset outings as well.

Things to Consider

Although the Northern Lights Sunset Cruise is available pretty much year-round, the availability of the Adirondack III Sunset Sail is far less frequent.

For more information, you may want to call up Classic Harbor Line and ask them when their next sailing excursion is taking place.

These trips are not necessarily intended for families, but rather for adults who are looking for a romantic evening out on the Boston Harbor.

Young children accompanied by an adult can take the Northern Sunset Cruise, but the Adirondack III only allows passengers who are 14 years or older. 


This sunset excursion is about 90 minutes long, taking you from the inner harbor into the outer harbor to give you the greatest bang for your buck.

The trip is fully narrated, so you’ll learn a lot about the area while enjoying the sights and sounds.

Discover a variety of cultural landmarks, top attractions, and beautiful lighthouses as the sun goes down in Beantown!

Ticket Prices 

  • $47.25 for Adults
  • $39.90 for Children (3-11)
  • $36.75 for Seniors
  • Free for infants under 3
  • Purchase tickets here


This company offers a lot of great ways to save on their sunset excursions.

  • Tourist Passes
  • Children Concession
  • Senior Concession
  • Free For Kids Under 3
  • Deal Sites | Groupon/LivingSocial

Things to Consider

Unlike the services provided by Classic Harbor Lines, this sunset outing welcomes audiences of all ages.

If you want to take your family out on a boat tour as the sun is setting, this could be an excellent opportunity.

Unfortunately, this cruise is only available during the summer months.


Like other companies, Mass Bay Line's Sunset Cruise runs only during the spring and summer months. 

This boat tour will take you past the USS Constitution (Old Ironsides), the Seaport Boston Hotel, the Bunker Hill Monument, Harvard University, the Boston Tea Party Ships, and several other notable landmarks along the way.

Ticket Prices 

  • $29.15 Adults
  • $29.15 Children (ages 6-12)
  • $29.15 Youth (ages 13-18)
  • $29.15 Seniors/Student (ages 6 and up with valid ID)/Military (with valid ID)
  • $29.15 Children under 5 
  • Purchase here.


There are a variety of different ways to save money on this sunset cruise.

  • Children Concession
  • Senior Concession
  • Military Concession
  • Student Concession
  • Free For Kids Under 5
  • Deal Sites | Groupon/LivingSocial

Things to Consider

Like other sunset cruises, this option is also seasonal and runs in the summer months.

This sunset boat tour is perfect for families, and it’s a lot more affordable than the alternatives offered by competitors.

At 1 ½ hours in length, this company is essentially offering the same service as their competition for a far lower price.  


This company provides several sailing excursions throughout the warmer months of the year, including a sunset sail around Boston Harbor.

Unlike some of their competitors, this sailing trip takes place on a classic schooner so that you can experience what a boat ride was like in the earlier days of Boston’s history.

Discover this city the way early Americans did while enjoying the beautiful skyline as the sunsets. See locations such as the Boston Harbor Islands, Spectacle Island, Fort Independence, Castle Island, and Deer Island.

Ticket Prices 


Things to Consider

Although this is a great opportunity to experience what a classic schooner is like, it’s worth noting that customers typically don’t find them very comfortable.

This is true to the form and function of an original tall ship, but some guests still won’t be happy with the excursion. Keep this in mind before purchasing any tickets.

It should also be noted that they only offer this service during the summer months.


If you’re looking for a cheaper option that will take you out on the Charles River instead, this company also offers a sunset cruise.

This boat tour lasts for approximately 70 minutes, and it is extremely affordable.

Discover the Boston Skyline from a different perspective while riding down the river and enjoying all of the popular landmarks as you float along.

Ticket Prices  

  • $32.00 for Adults
  • $29.00 for Senior/Student/Military
  • $23.00 for Children (under 12)
  • Purchase here.


Much like its competitors, this company also offers a variety of ways to save on its services.

  • Children Concession
  • Senior Concession
  • Student Concession
  • Military Concession
  • Deal Sites | Groupon/LivingSocial

Things to Consider

This cruise will stay close to the city, so you might not get as many views of the entire skyline as you could enjoy with other services.

The experience here is entirely different but still worth considering. It’s hard to beat the low prices offered by this tour company!


About The Author

Brian Burgess

I was born in Cambridge and have been living in the Boston area all my life. I am a graduate of Boston's Emerson College with a degree in communications with a journalism/history focus. I have been leading tours for Free Tours By Foot Boston since it was started in the city of Boston in 2012, and enjoy sharing my knowledge of Boston's rich history with not only the guests on my tours, but with everyone I meet. <a href="" Read More...
Updated: April 11th, 2024
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