This summer, Boston Harbor Now celebrated our 10th season of the Community Cruise program, helping to bring more than 42,000 people onto Boston Harbor. Over the last decade, we have been honored to work with hundreds of community groups to provide countless transformative experiences through music, dance, education, and art aboard ferries cruising through Boston Harbor.
Our Community Cruise program is more than just your typical cruise around the Harbor. It is an opportunity to introduce long-time community members to an area of Boston that they may have never visited before – but in a way that’s comfortable and familiar for them. The best way to feel connected with your home city is through unforgettable experiences surrounded by the people closest to you.
One of our most popular Community Cruises, the Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Cruise, is an excellent example of how our team is committed to providing opportunities to different communities that traditionally haven’t been able to take advantage of our proximity to Boston Harbor. On August 24th, hundreds of people from the AANHPI community lined the streets by the Seaport World Trade Center to board a ferry, some for the first time. Interpreter Anna Tse stood at the boat’s entrance, ready to greet and assist passengers whose native language is not English. As Anna skillfully navigated the large crowd of eager ferry passengers, helping to provide the information they all needed to enjoy the cruise, she noticed how many multigenerational families attended the cruise.
“I saw a lot of families. Families that were three generations: grandma, grandkids, moms and dads,” observed Anna. “They’re all immigrants, so for them, they all came to Boston for a new life. So for them to see the harbor through the lens of the community cruise is kind of like, ‘Okay, we worked hard, we made it, this is our home.’ That was the feeling on the cruise. It’s a very special experience.”
As hundreds of families boarded the cruise, they were greeted with a new perspective of their city. Passengers enjoyed a warm meal from Fuji Ink Block as the boat set off and the sun began to set. To properly celebrate the vibrant AANHPI community, passengers partook in a lively tradition of Lion Dance performances by Wah Lum Kung Fu & Tai Chi Academy
“One of my favorite memories of being a part of the AANHPI Cruise was the Lion Dance on the boat. I saw many teenage kids break away from their phones and dance with the Lion Dancers on the boat. It was so wonderful,” Anna added.
The Boston Harbor Now team hosts numerous communities every season to experience the harbor and its islands on these cruises. Each is thoughtfully planned to ensure a welcoming experience for guests, so they are encouraged to come back and enjoy this area of their home whenever they want.
During our Latino Community Cruise, guests not only had the opportunity to hop on a ferry and sail Boston Harbor, but they also were able to visit Spectacle Island. Veronica Robles, a long-time resident of East Boston, a member of Boston Harbor Now’s Board of Advisors, and a supporter of our Community Cruise program, shared her experience on this unique community cruise.
“After performing on one of the community cruises years ago, I saw the potential to bring my community, which mostly only goes to work, school, then home. They don’t have many opportunities to explore different parts of Boston in free and accessible ways,” explained Veronica.
Guests on the Latino community cruise were greeted with traditional Latino music reminiscent of their home countries. As they cruised through the harbor to make their way to Spectacle Island, the boat was alive with the vibrant energy of the Latino community.
“What I loved about this cruise especially was that we had the element of bringing in vendors featuring traditional items from Columbia and Mexico,” continued Veronica. “It felt like an authentic Mercado right on the beach. It made everyone really happy and inspired, with the sunset view of Boston in the background.”
Many guests were stepping on Spectacle Island for the first time. Seeing the beaches and the Boston skyline from a new perspective sent a jolt of enthusiasm into the crowd. Friends and families from all types of Latino backgrounds ran onto the beach of Spectacle Island to play in the waters while others enjoyed the colorful market set up right next to the dock or a peaceful walk along the winding trails of Spectacle. As the sun set, passengers boarded the ferry for one last dancing celebration on the water before their night ended.
“My favorite moment was when I saw the youth bringing people together to form a dancing train with the live music,” exclaimed Veronica. “They started it and grabbed people to join them in the dancing. It was beautiful.”
As you can see, we care a lot about our surrounding communities and sharing areas of Boston with those who may not have the opportunity to access them. This year, we were honored to serve 5,450 people on cruises that featured guests from South Boston, East Boston, Roxbury, the Wonderfund, Charlestown, AANHPI, and Latino communities.
Sammy’s Carlos, Sammy’s Carlos, Fuji Ink Block, and Antojitos Colombianos, who generously provided delicious food for our cruises. We also want to express our gratitude to the amazing performers and musicians who brought their talents to our cruises, including DJ WhySham, Stiggity Stackz Worldwide, Zumix, Wah Lum Kung Fu & Tai Chi Academy, and the Eduardo Ortiz Latin Jazz Band.
Looking back on the growth of our Community Cruise program over the last decade fills our hearts with joy. It brings us great pleasure to know that our cherished Community Cruise program will continue to sail toward new horizons. We look forward to serving even more individuals who make our beloved city, the Harbor, and its Islands what it is today.