There are a number of different cruises you can take in the Boston Harbor (or Boston Harbour, as the British would have it). Probably the main provider (depending on what is meant by “main provider”) of these cruises is the appropriately named Boston Harbor Cruises, but a few other companies offer Boston Harbor cruises as well. Below we supply some information about the various Boston Harbor cruises available, linking to the various companies that offer them. Think of this as a guide to Boston Harbor cruises that will connect you with the appropriate cruise for you.
First, we should note that by “Boston Harbor cruises,” we mean cruises that focus on, and primarily sail within, the Boston Harbor, thus distinguishing them from regular cruises from Boston (that is, the multiple-day voyages out of Boston that are offered by major cruise lines like Royal Caribbean). We made this point in our article about exactly what a “Boston Harbor cruise” is, linguistically speaking. (We also dwelled at some length on the confusion caused by a company whose name is synonymous with the service it offers, especially when the service isn’t exclusively offered by that company.)
There are essentially three main providers of Boston Harbor cruises: Boston Harbor Cruises, Spirit Cruises/Odyssey, and Liberty Fleet of Tall Ships. The trained (and untrained) eye will notice that Spirit Cruises and Odyssey are lumped together, even though they link to different sites; however, these sites are essentially exactly the same except for the color scheme and the logo in the upper-left side of the page. When you use the (identical) “Find a Cruise” tab on either site, the exact same results are generated. Spirit Cruises and Odyssey technically offer different cruises – Spirit is responsible for the “Skyline Lunch Cruise” and Odyssey for the “Starlight Dinner Cruise,” to pick one example – but it makes no difference which site you are using, as they are operated by the same company, Entertainment Cruises. Odyssey is happy to lead you to a Spirit cruise, and vice versa. Thus, both companies can be treated as one, at least in this context.
In general, Boston Harbor Cruises, Spirit/Odyssey, and Liberty Fleet of Tall Ships offer different services and thus fill different niches in the Boston Harbor cruising scene. (Inevitably, there is some slight overlap between the companies’ offerings. For instance, Boston Harbor Cruises and Liberty Fleet of Tall Ships both offer sightseeing cruises, but in general they go after different customers, and in any case it is not like the sightseeing cruises of each company are exactly the same.) Boston Harbor Cruises offers whale-watching cruises, a speed cruise called “Codzilla,” and a few tour cruises of historical sites (like Salem and Provincetown). Spirit/Odyssey, in contrast, offer cruises that focus on dining. They offer the aforementioned dinner and lunch cruises, as well as the occasional brunch cruise (like on Easter Sunday). The ships are equipped with full bars and dance floors, so Spirit/Odyssey also offer something like a party cruise, at least on the appropriate occasions. (We presume Easter Sunday isn’t one of these occasions.) Liberty Fleet of Tall Ships, as their name implies, offers trips on tall ships. As mentioned, some of these cruises are for sightseeing, but they also have a cruise on which the Boston Tea Party is reenacted. They also offer a “Rum and Revolution” cruise, which is essentially a booze cruise that features actors in historical costumes, and, like Spirit/Odyssey, they offer a brunch cruise, one that can be taken each Sunday (more frequently than the Spirit/Odyssey offering).
As you can see, there are a variety of cruises in the Boston Harbor, ranging from whale-watching excursions to party cruises. Thus, regardless of what you’re into, there is a probably a cruise for you, and now you know which company to work with if you plan on setting sail in the Boston Harbor.