In Focus: Yankee Fleet
Specialties: deep-sea fishing and whale watching trips
Fleet: includes the 50’ Wojack and the 100’ Yankee Freedom
Trip lengths: half-day, full-day, or overnight; occasional specialty trips and charters available
Years in operation: more than 70; it has been family-owned since its 1944 founding
Chief captain: Thomas Orrell, who has worked for Yankee Fleet since 1979 and bought the company in 2008
Fishing reports: The fleet updates a blog with the latest information on the catches of the day.
As the sun makes its retreat into the horizon, the whales of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary come out to play. Their elephantine fins slap the waters with such zeal that the pod seems to be putting on a performance for the catamaran of whale watchers in their midst. This end-of-day nature show experienced by passengers aboard Boston's Best Cruises’ New England Aquarium Whale Watch is hardly a rarity, as the ship’s crews guarantee sightings of these gentle giants with each excursion.
Champions of the natural beauty of Boston Harbor and the area’s rich maritime history, Boston's Best Cruises’ expert crew sets sail on cruises to suit all manner of interest. Along with their whale watches, Boston’s Best Cruises whisks passengers away on Harbor Cruises that grant unimpeded views of the Boston skyline and the King Kongs pumping fists within its skyscrapers. The Salem Ferry facilitates leisurely cruises between Boston and the historic city, and aquatic outings to the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area enable activities such as sunset clambakes, hiking, and fishing.
RIB Adventure Tours conduct informative history tours and scavenger hunts around Baltimore Harbor, even when the horizon becomes a blur; all tours take place aboard 26-foot-long rigid, inflatable speedboats. Built to Navy SEAL specifications by a local Massachusetts boat manufacturer, the boats keep riders secure aboard jockey seats. On guided history tours, passengers snag high-speed glimpses of harbor landmarks including lighthouses and forts, whose history guides can expound upon. During scavenger hunts, guides prompt passengers to look for environmental clues and give individual scores. Captains and tour guides brief passengers on safety before all excursions and supply them with high-grade waterproof cameras to take pictures of passing scenery.
More relaxed cruises from partner Hestia Cruises, onboard the 32-foot sailing yacht Hestia, might drift past the USS Constitution or out into the outer harbor. The ship is manned by a captain, a full crew, and friendly cocker spaniel named Ensign. Guests can help with the sailing duties, but padded seats and a BYOB policy for those of age may encourage them to sit back and relax.
At the age of 16, Matthew "Matty" Hughes became the youngest-ever licensed captain in the port of Boston. Funneling his passion into a career, he founded Boston Harbor Cruises in 1926 to lead tours up the Charles River. What began as a two-man, one-boat operation has grown tremendously throughout its more than 90-year history, now encompassing a 52-boat fleet and more than 400 employees who transport more than 2.5 million passengers.
The Boston Harbor Cruises staff handles all things nautical, from whale watching and Codzilla thrill ride tours to wedding receptions and celebrations for special occasions. Because dolphins are hard to saddle and refuse to obey verbal commands, Boston Harbor Cruises also navigates the waters with ferries and harbor cruises that explore the historic and romantic sights of Boston.
Though the leadership has changed, Matty's grandchildren and great grandchildren still perpetuate the traditions of Boston Harbor Cruises, furthering one man's obsession with the harbor and inspiring future generations to create their own memories on its inviting waters.
Docked adjacent to the New England Aquarium, the Liberty Star and the Liberty Clipper look distinguished. The Liberty Star measures 67 feet long and can hold up to 39 passengers, and the Liberty Clipper measures 125 feet long with a capacity for up to 100 passengers. The massive schooner is an authentic replica of an 18th-century Baltimore clipper ship, thoroughly modernized to transport passengers on Boston Harbor sails and longer private charters. They sail daily throughout the harbor for public and group outings, along with private charters for special events, such as weddings or corporate proms. For a longer respite, they hoist the sails and steer southwards where the Liberty Clipper
sails the Bahamas and the Liberty Star sails the Virgin Islands on adventure sailing vacations.
Classic Harbor Line offers glimpses of modern-day Boston, Manhattan, Newport, and Key West with their fleet of sailboats and classic yachts. Passengers can engage in day trips, private charters, and special events on the water set against a backdrop of sunsets or shimmering displays of city lights at night. Modeled after 1890s schooners, the company's Boston flagship, Adirondack III, uses its long, lean shape to easily cut through any waves or giant blocks of Jell-O floating in the harbor. At 80-feet, the vessel carries up to 41 passengers and provides plenty of room to move around, allowing crew members to serve beverages or guests find the perfect vantage point to snap a picture of the sunset. Classic Harbor Line also offers a 1920s styled climate-controlled and open-air
Motor Yacht, the Northern Lights, which has an open sun deck, a top deck with canopy covered bench seating, and a temperature controlled salon with a table and lounge seating. While cruise-goers enjoy the boat’s narration and music, they can also take advantage of the beer, wine, soda, & water available for purchase.