If it has been a while since you cruised from Boston, you likely won’t recognize the area around the cruise terminal. During the past 15 years, the City of Boston has transformed this former, highly industrial section of South Boston to a neighborhood that also includes parks, restaurants, museums, hotels, office buildings, and residences. This neighborhood, called the Innovation District, is where traditional New England maritime industry and modern conveniences coexist—and it is continuing to grow.
Although the main tourist sites of Boston are accessible by shore excursion or public transportation, some cruise passengers might prefer to stay close to the terminal. For example, embarking passengers may wish to use their limited time to see a little of Boston, or cruisers for whom Boston is a port of call may wish to do something different and be back onboard in time for lunch. Below are some areas you might want to check out while you are in town.
- Black Falcon Cruise Terminal: One of the highlights of the Innovation District is just steps from your cruise ship. Boston’s Black Falcon Cruise Terminal, also known as Cruiseport Boston, was built as a warehouse during World War I and has also served as a U.S. Army base. The terminal underwent an $11 million refurbishment in 2010 that included both cosmetic and functional upgrades. Still, it retains many historic touches, such as the original walls as well as ocean liner photos, travel posters, and a scale model of the luxury liner Rex.
- Harpoon Brewery: The Harpoon Brewery opened in 1986 and was the first in Massachusetts to receive a brewing permit in 25 years. Still located on its original site, Harpoon Brewery offers guided tours, a visitor center, and a retail store. (Note that you will not be able to bring liquid refreshments onto your ship, but you can still pick up popular T-shirts and caps.) The Harpoon Brewery is located approximately a one-half mile walk from the cruise terminal.
- The bridge on Summer Street: This bridge across the channel adjacent to the cruise terminal has a pedestrian walkway that offers a great vantage point from which to photograph your ship. When leaving the terminal, turn left, make a right at the Boston Design Center, and turn left on Drydock Avenue. Cut through Marine Industrial Park and the bridge is just ahead to your left on Summer Street. Keep to the left side of the bridge for better views, as well as for your safety. The far side of the bridge is a half-mile walk from the cruise terminal, or one mile round trip.
- Castle Island: For those with a little more time—at least three hours to spare—a visit to Castle Island and Fort Independence may be of interest. The first fort on Castle Island was built in 1634; the current one was completed in 1851. Guided tours are available through the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. The area is accessible by foot or by taxi.
- Liberty Wharf: Hungry? Want to enjoy authentic Boston seafood and a spectacular view of the harbor? Then, a visit to Liberty Wharf may be in order. A growing number of restaurants are located here—and many are frequented by locals, as well. Expect lunch to take two hours (there may be a wait) and leave at least another hour for the taxi rides to and from the terminal.
- Seaport World Trade Center and Boston HarborWalk: Located approximately one mile from the cruise terminal is the vibrant Seaport District. Part of the Boston HarborWalk comes through here and is a great spot for people- and boat-watching. The Seaport World Trade Center was built in 1913 as the Commonwealth Pier; a centennial exhibit is planned for the summer months. The best mode of transit from the cruise terminal is taxi—and leave at least three to four hours to see this area.
No matter where your explorations take you, be sure to allow sufficient time to return to the ship at least an hour before its scheduled departure. Be certain to bring a watch/cellular phone, a neighborhood map (that you’ve printed before leaving home), and—to get back on your ship—a photo identification card and your ship’s boarding pass (that you received during check-in). Comfortable walking shoes and sun protection are also advised. And take notes, even in your mind, as the Innovation District is developing rapidly enough so that there will be even more to see on a later visit.