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Boston USS Constitution cruise
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Massachusetts Office of TravelBoston USS Constitution cruise

11 best Boston cruises

See the city and beyond with gorgeous views, sunset dinners and romantic sunsets on these top Boston cruises and harbor rides.

JQ Louise
Tanya Edwards
Edited by
JQ Louise
Written by
Tanya Edwards
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Perched on a bay, fed by multiple rivers and right near the ocean, Boston and its surrounds are often best seen from the water. And because everything is better on a boat, we found all the fun and relaxing ways to take in the Hub (and a few short trips out of the city) in all its glory. Relax at a sunset dinner, cruise out to a clambake, enjoy an informative tour with the best cruises in and around Boston. Don’t forget to bring a jacket!

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Boston

Best Boston cruises

USS Constitution cruise
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Massachusetts Office of Travel

1. USS Constitution cruise

Get up close and personal with one of the city's most famous historical landmarks. This 45-minute tour takes you over to Old Ironsides, one of the very first ships commissioned by the US Navy (1797). After an up-close view of the ship, you’ll take a quick harborside swing around other historical landmarks, including Bunker Hill Monument and Old North Church.

  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours
  • Back Bay
  • price 3 of 4

The city’s most iconic tour lends both land and sea perspectives to Boston’s history and architecture, with sense of humor to spare. Hop on a revamped, World War II-era amphibious vehicle and you'll cruise the streets of Boston, then plunge into the Charles River for views of both the Boston and Cambridge skylines and a chance to intermingle with sailboats, kayaks and, yes, local ducks. Along the way, you'll be educated and entertained by a ConDUCKtor, who will surely encourage you to occasionally quack at the locals.

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Just a few minutes before the Bourne Bridge, take a detour to Onset for the only sightseeing cruise of the history rich canal and see Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Sagamore Bridge, Bourne Bridge, Cape Cod Bay and more on a sightseeing cruise, a music cruise or a family music cruise.

  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours
  • Waterfront

Classic Harbor Line offers cruises around Boston Harbor year-round on the yacht Northern Lights as well as seasonally on the Schooner Adirondack III. Take a standard cruise to see the sights, or check out one of the many themed cruises on offer: sunset sails, barbecue and beer series, holiday brunch cruises, Jazz cruise, Cinco de Mayo cruise, and more. 

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Whale watching cruise
Photograph: Shutterstock

5. Whale watching cruise

Stellwagen Bank is one of the best spots for whale watching in the world. Each summer, around 50 individual humpback whales return to this hotbed of biological activity. Take a whale-watching cruise and you'll see not only these majestic beauties but also other species of whales as well dolphins, seabirds and otters. Learn all about the marine life you encounter from a knowledgeable on-board naturalist.

  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours
  • Waterfront
  • price 3 of 4

Brunch and dinner cruises on the Odyssey combine good food, a relaxing cruise, and a decent bit of sightseeing in one outing. Enjoy a freshly-prepared meal as you slowly cruise through the Harbor, where you'll see landmarks like the USS Constitution. Reserve a window table for the best views. There's a cash bar and live music, so go ahead and make it a party.

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Spirit of Boston
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Ian Lee

7. Spirit of Boston

This classic cruise has all the trappings of a classy, old school date: a beautiful sunset plus dinner and dancing as you sail around the harbor. A sizeable buffet offers plenty of options to start the evening. Upstairs on the deck, a DJ keeps the party going as the sun sets dramatically over the water. Ocean breezes, a sunset, and beautiful city views are perfect for romance or a celebration.

There’s not much that’s more quintessentially New England than a clambake, and combining it with a river cruise that sees you and your friends cruising to a sandbar, hanging out and sharing boiled lobster, clams, corn on the cob and all the fixings, is the perfect activity. Head to the North Shore for a tidal beach clambake, or just take a scenic river excursion on a public cruise.

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Sunset cruise
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Kunal Mukherjee

10. Sunset cruise

This cruise offers a bit of history and spectacle along with gorgeous sunset views. The 90 minute cruise takes you around the Harbor past historic sites, then pauses as the USS Constitution fires her cannons and lowers her flags to mark the end of the day. Enjoy beautiful colors of the setting sun reflecting off the downtown buildings, and watch as the skyline lights up as darkness falls.

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Historic sightseeing cruise
Photograph: Shutterstock

11. Historic sightseeing cruise

Sometimes it’s best to combine education with your alfresco outings. This 90-minute tour immerses you in the lore of Boston’s waters, detailing heroic happenings during the Revolutionary War; the earlier industrial workings of the city’s ports; and the history of the Harbor Islands National Park Area, consisting of 34 bucolic islands and mainland parks.

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