Boston Boat Tours and Harbor Cruises

This post compares the various Boston boat tours and harbor cruises, including reviews, prices, and discount opportunities to help you decide which option is best for you.

 

 


SIGHTSEEING BOAT TOURS

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

These trips are usually both short and inexpensive, giving you the opportunity to discover this city from an entirely different point of view. 


BOSTON HARBOR CRUISES

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

USS Constitution Sightseeing Boat Tour 

A 45-minute tour of Boston’s Inner Harbor, which includes the chance to tour of Old Ironsides. You will also see Bunker Hill Monument, the site of The Boston Tea Party, and the Old North Church.

  • $27.25 for Adults (ages 12-64)
  • $25.15 for Seniors (ages 65-99)
  • $23.05 for Children (ages 3-11)
  • Free for children 2 and under

Historic Boston Sightseeing Cruise 

A 90-minute tour of both the Inner and Outer Harbor.

Things to Consider

The USS Constitution cruise circles the inner harbor and provides a good view of the USS Constitution. 

In contrast, 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.


CLASSIC HARBOR LINE

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

Their Historical New England Harbor Cruise below is fantastic, as are their other cruises, including themed cruises and holiday tours for  Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Make sure to check our section on specialty boat tours for more information on their theme cruise services.

Tour and Ticket Prices 

Historical New England Harbor Cruise

A 90-minute tour of historical sights.

  • $31.50 for Adults
  • $18.90 for Children (ages 3-14)
  • $26.25 for Seniors
  • Free Children 2 and under

Reviews of Classic Harbor Line

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.

They only have a handful of negative ratings, and none of them appear to be suggestive of any glaring problems.

Many reviewers describe the captain and crew as both professional and friendly, which is definitely nice to hear.

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.

 


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TALL SHIP AND SAILBOAT TOURS

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.

 

 


LIBERTY FLEET OF TALL SHIPS

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.

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.

Although there are a few common complaints, they generally focus on issues that you will experience on any old schooner. It isn’t necessarily going to be the most comfortable ride you’ve ever had.

This experience is all about authenticity, and it would appear that most guests understood that.

Positive reviews focus on the feeling of being transported back in time to the days when these ships once ruled the waterways. 

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.

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 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.

Although it might not be as much of a tour as some of the other cruises and sailing options you’ll find in Boston, this is definitely an excellent opportunity to discover what it feels like to take a trip on a traditional tall ship. 


CLASSIC SAIL BOSTON

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 deal, 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.

Comments are all extremely favorable, many of them indicating that this is a wonderful experience for families and small groups.

The yacht holds up to 6 passengers, so this sailing trip is definitely more personal than what you’ll find with other services. Satisfied customers state that this is an enjoyable cruise for people of all ages.

Charter Prices (up to 6 passengers)

  • Standard Charter (2 Hours): $495 
  • Half-Day Charter (4 Hours): $795 
  • Full-Day Charter (8 Hours): $1,200 (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.

Things to Consider

The longer you charter the boat, the more you’ll be able to experience. 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.

For those who can afford it, this is a great way to spend a day out on the water. 

 


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BOSTON SWAN BOATS

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

Ticket Prices

  • $4.00 for Adults
  • $3.50 for Seniors
  • $2.50 for Children (ages 2-15)
  • Children under 2 ride free
  • Purchase tickets at the dock

Swan Boat rides are free for holders of a Boston Go Card!

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.

 


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DINING CRUISES

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!

 

 


SPIRIT CRUISES

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.

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

There are a few negative comments ranging from the food quality to the price of a ticket, but there isn’t enough evidence to suggest a recurring problem.

Most guests absolutely adore their meal and their experience, so it’s possible that these were simply isolated incidents.

Overall, this is an excellent and reliable service that most people will enjoy.

Tours and Ticket Prices 

Lunch Cruise

  • $54.90 for Adults
  • $39.90 for Children (age 3-12)
  • Free for children under 3
  • $69.90 for a guaranteed window seat

Dinner Cruise

  • $99.90 for Adults 
  • $99.90 for Children (age 3-12)
  • Free for children under 3
  • $124.90 for a guaranteed window seat

Sunset Dinner Cruise

  • $79.90 for Adults
  • $79.90 for Children (age 3-12)
  • Free for children under 3
  • $104.90 for a guaranteed window seat

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.

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. No matter when you choose to visit Boston, chances are that they’ll have at least one cruise available.

This company offers additional goodies like roses and wine glasses which are available to purchase alongside your tickets.

Each excursion lasts between 2-3 hours, and they all include at least one meal. Considering everything you get with a standard ticket, the price is more than reasonable.

The menus you will receive on these dining cruises are far different than those you will receive from other services on this list.

You might want to consider checking the menus for each cruise and choosing the one that includes a meal you will enjoy. 


ODYSSEY CRUISES

Odyssey is a sister company of Spirit Cruises. Odyssey offers lunch, 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.

As with their sister company, the negative experiences appear to be few and far between, indicating that they are not typical of the overall service.

Most passengers thoroughly enjoy their trip with this company, reporting that the food is tasty and the staff is very friendly.

Ticket Prices  (prices vary by day of the week)

Lunch Cruise

  • $79.90 for Adults
  • $59.90 for Children (age 3-12)
  • Free for children under 3
  • $104.90 for a guaranteed window seat

Brunch Cruise

  • $82.90 for Adults
  • $62.90 for Children (age 3-12)
  • Free for children under 3
  • $107.90 for a guaranteed window seat

Dinner Cruise

  • $134.90 for Adults
  • $134.90 for Children (age 3-12)
  • Free for children under 3
  • $174.90 for a guaranteed window seat

Starlight Dinner Cruise

  • $99.90 for Adults  
  • $99.90 for Children (age 3-12)
  • Free for children under 3
  • $129.90 for a guaranteed window seat

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?


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.

In addition to their typical fare, they also provide optional extras such as a bottle of wine or a bouquet of roses.

If you’re in the market for a romantic evening out on the Boston Harbor, these additional upgrades are definitely worth consideration.

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.

 


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SUNSET BOAT TOURS

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.

 

 

CLASSIC HARBOR LINE

In addition to their 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)

  • $58 for Adults (14 and older)

 

 


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 Adirondak III only allows passengers who are 14 years or older. 


BOSTON HARBOR CRUISES

This sunset cruise 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 and beautiful lighthouses as the sun goes down in Beantown!

Ticket Prices 

  • $36.70 for Adults
  • $34.60 for Seniors
  • $32.50 for Children (3-11)
  • Free for infants under 3 

Things to Consider

Unlike the services provided by Classic Harbor Lines, this sunset cruise 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.

Depending on the time of year, you may want to consider an alternative service for sunset boat trips in Boston.


MASSACHUSETTS BAY LINES

Much like Boston Harbor Cruises, their trips are only available during the spring and summer months.

This boat tour will take you past the U.S.S. Constitution, the Seaport Boston Hotel, and several other notable landmarks along the way.

Ticket Prices 

  • $22 Adults
  • $18 Children (ages 6-18)
  • $20 Seniors/Student (ages 6 and up with valid ID)/Military (with valid ID)
  • $10 Children under 5 
  • Purchase here.

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.  


LIBERTY FLEET OF TALL SHIPS

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.

Ticket Prices 

  • $35 for Adults
  • $19 for Children (2-12) | Children 2 and younger are free!

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.


CHARLES RIVERBOAT COMPANY

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  

  • $23.00 for Adult
  • $20.00 for Senior/Student/Military
  • $15.00 for Children (3-11)
  • $5.00 for Children 2 and under

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!

 


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COMBO PACKAGES

If you’re in the market for more than just a cruise or a boat tour, you may want to consider taking advantage of a combo package. 

Some tour companies in the Boston area offer a variety of different activities at a discount when you purchase them together.

You can save quite a bit of money when purchasing an activity package or pass.

Read more from our post, Boston Tourist Passes, and Packages.

 

 

GO BOSTON CARD

This company offers combo deals for a lot of popular destinations around the world, and they have become accepted as a reliable service.

The Go Boston Card provides access to several different tours and attractions for a low price.

Many of the cruises and boat tours we’ve described above are available with this pass, so you may want to consider this combo package if you are interested in any of the services on this list.

 

 

Boat Tours and Cruises Available With Go Boston Card

  • U.S.S. Constitution Sightseeing Boat Tour
  • Cape Cod Canal Cruise
  • Charles River Cruise
  • Hyannisport Harbor Cruise
  • Swan Boats of Boston

Other Popular Attractions/Activities Included With Go Boston Card

  • Fenway Park Tour
  • Hop-On, Hop-Off Trolley Tour
  • New England Aquarium
  • Museum of Science
  • Freedom Trail Walking Tour
  • Museum of Fine Arts
  • Salem Witch Museum
  • Paul Revere House
  • Sam Adams Brewery Tour
  • LEGOLAND Discovery Center
  • JFK Presidential Library and Museum
  • Liberty Ride Bus Tour
  • Six Flags New England
  • MIT Museum

Things to Consider

The Go Boston Card is best for those who plan to spend at least 3 days in Beantown.

They do provide 1 and 2-day tickets, but you won’t be able to visit many of the popular locations that are offered through this combo deal unless you intend to stick around in Boston for at least a few days.

This pass is available in three different formats: All-Inclusive, Explorer and Build Your Own.

The Build Your Own Pass will allow you to save up to 20% on every attraction you choose.

This might be a better option for those who won’t be in town for very long because it gives you the opportunity to pick and choose only the activities you want.

For more information on this service, including prices and how to purchase, check out our comparison of the various Boston Tourist Passes.


BOSTON CityPASS

If you’re looking for a combo package that’s a bit easier to manage, the Boston CityPASS is definitely worth consideration.

Although this tourist pass doesn’t include as many activities, it is a lot more affordable and lasts for 9 full days.

No matter how much time you’re spending in the city, chances are that you’ll be able to partake in most of the attractions available through this combo deal.

Attractions and Tours Included with Boston CityPASS

  • New England Aquarium
  • Museum of Science
  • Skywalk Observatory
  • Boston Harbor Cruise OR Museum of Fine Arts

Things to Consider

This is a much better option for those who only plan to spend a day or two in Boston. Although their competitor offers many more activities, there are so many things to do that it can be difficult to get your money’s worth.

With the Boston CityPASS, you have over a week to enjoy four different attractions and/or tours at your leisure, and you save money by bundling all of them together.

If you’re interested in the Historic Sightseeing tour offered by Boston Harbor Cruises (detailed above), this tour and the additional activities included with the tourist pass, you may want to take advantage of this combo package.

For more information including prices and how to purchase this pass, read our comparison of Boston Tourist Passes.

 


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