|Duck Tours in Boston, Mass.|
|The most popular and unusual tours of Boston are those that take you through the city by both land and water in recycled amphibious military vehicles called "ducks."|
When Boston Duck Tours was founded years ago, many Bostonians thought the founder was nuts:
"Put tourists in an uncomfortable military vehicle instead of a plush air-conditioned motorcoach? You're nuts!"
"Drive them around, rain or shine, handing out plastic ponchos if it starts to drizzle? You're nuts!"
People loved it! Pretty soon everyone, local or visitor, wanted to take a Duck Tour.
Today the noisy, ungainly, basic-comfort vehicles are a common sight any day on Boston's downtown streets...and cruising in the Charles River for about 20 minutes of their 80-minute tours, which depart from both the Prudential Center and the Museum of Science.
The tour guides (known as "conducktors") are knowledgeable and fun, pointing out landmarks and city features along the way.
During the Charles River cruise portion of the tour, guides have even been known to allow children to steer the craft for a minute or two.
Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, there is now a second Duck Tour company in Boston: Super Duck Tours, with amphibious craft launching from the Charlestown Navy Yard, near the USS Constitution ("Old Ironsides") and cruising in Boston Harbor.
What's the downside? Only that Duck Tours are so popular they often sell out in advance. Tickets are sold for a particular tour departure time and location on a particular day, and are non-refundable and non-exchangable. Reservations by phone are accepted only for groups of 20 or more persons, so if you're a couple, family or smaller party you'll have to pin down your tickets another way.
Here's what to do to assure that you get to "ride a duck:"
1. Consider buying a Go Boston Card which admits you to 65 different tours, attractions, museums and historic sites in Boston, Lexington, Concord, Cape Cod and Newport RI. A ticket on a Boston Duck Tour is included in the Go Boston Card; you can even reserve your place on a tour up to 30 days in advance. If you're going to see and do a lot in Boston and eastern Massachusetts, the Go Boston Card can save you money. Click here for more info:
2. If you don't have a Go Boston Card, Boston Duck Tour tickets go on sale online at 8:45 am Eastern Time 30 days before departure. If you're able to plan your touring days that far in advance, this is the easiest way to guarantee the seats you want on the day and at the time you want. The only negative is that you pay a $3.50-per-ticket "convenience charge" to buy your tickets this way.
3. Unless all tickets have been pre-sold on the Internet, tickets are made available at Boston Duck Tour ticket booths next to the Prudential Center, Faneuil Hall, and the Museum of Science up to five days in advance of tour departure. If you can't plan farther ahead, this is a good option: stop by one of the ticket booths a few days before you want to take your tour, and buy your tickets. A bonus: no service charge!
4. If you can't buy your tickets in advance, a number of tickets are always held for same-day sales. Go to one of the ticket booths as soon as possible after they open (8:30 am) and buy them on the day you want to tour. On many days, these same-day tickets are sold out by 12 noon.
5. On weekdays, rainy days, and outside the busy summer season, you may find it easier to buy tickets. On cold or rainy days, heavy transparent curtains shield passengers from the weather, and the heat is turned on.
Duck Tours are handicapped accessible. The last tour departs about an hour before sunset, which changes with the seasons.
So schedule your tour now. Get quacking!
—by Tom Brosnahan