Boston Harbor to host series of Tall Ships this summer

The Spanish Navy's Juan Sebastian De Elcano is coming to Boston.
The Spanish Navy's Juan Sebastian De Elcano is coming to Boston.Sail Boston Inc./Sail Boston, Inc.

Old Ironsides may be dry-docked this summer as its hull undergoes repairs and restoration, but Boston Harbor visitors will still get to feast their eyes on Tall Ships sailing toward the city.

Three tall ships will glide into Boston over the next two months — some traveling from as far away as Portugal and Spain. Visitors will be able to climb aboard and take tours of the historic vessels. A massive cruise liner will also pay a visit.

“It’s a good summer for Boston,” said Dusty Rhodes, project manager for Sail Boston Inc., a nonprofit that promotes maritime tourism. “We try and make sure if a ship is going to be in the Atlantic, and stop in a US port, that we are one of the first choices.”


Rhodes said the Juan Sebastian De Elcano will be the first ship to arrive and anchor in the harbor on Monday. The next day, the vessel will dock at Pier Four in Charlestown, where it will be open for public tours.

The four-masted ship, a topsail schooner, is the third largest Tall Ship in the world. The vessel serves as the official training vessel for the Spanish Navy.

“She is very colorful, and very big,” Rhodes said of the ship.

In July, Boston will be treated to a rapid succession of visits from two additional Tall Ships and the Queen Mary 2 cruise liner. The ships’ time in the city will overlap in a single weekend, a feat Rhodes said is rare and unusual, but a welcome addition to the harbor.

The Portuguese Navy's Sagres will also visit.
The Portuguese Navy's Sagres will also visit.Sail Boston, Inc.

On July 10, the Portuguese Navy ship the Sagres will arrive in Boston after it makes a stop in New Bedford. The 294-foot barque, built in 1937, has three masts and white sails bearing red crosses. The Sagres will be at Fan Pier for several days, and open to the public.


On July 11, the French Hermione will arrive and dock at Rowes Wharf. The Hermione’s connection to the East Coast dates back to 1780, when the ship arrived in America with French general the Marquis de Lafayette.

An official welcome ceremony and parade for the ship will be held with appearances from Mayor Martin J. Walsh; Governor Charlie Baker; Fabien Fieschi, general consul of France to Boston; and Hervé Blanché, the mayor of Rochefort, France.

The following morning, the Queen Mary 2 will arrive during a multicity trip that started in England. The trip celebrates the 175th anniversary of the trans-Atlantic voyage of the Britannia, which was also part of the Cunard shipping line.

The Queen Mary 2, which bills itself as the largest, longest, widest, tallest, and most expensive passenger liner in history, will come into port and host a fireworks display for the public the same evening, according to event details.

“These are all very distinct types of ships that all have a story behind them,” Rhodes said. “We want people to come down to the waterfront and enjoy them — plus there is fireworks, so how can you beat that?”

Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.