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A New Way to See the Harbor: Cycleboat Boston

Oct 02, 2019 Blog
A New Way to See the Harbor: Cycleboat Boston Neatly lined rows of red crosshairs

You’ve seen them before. Perhaps you’ve even taken one for a spin. What was once a head-turning, human-powered phenomenon is now a fixture in downtowns across the country. We’re talking, of course, about the party bike. The pub-on-wheels setup allows participants to belly up to the bar, sit on a bike seat, and pedal their way through the city. Until recently, this was the go-to option for groups who wanted an active, social, and eco-friendly way to see the town. But now, there’s a new game in Boston—and it doesn’t have wheels.

Cycleboat Boston takes the concept of a human-powered touring vehicle to Boston Harbor. (And, as we’ll see later, it makes for the perfect excursion to or from the East Boston luxury waterfront condos at The Mark.) Riders sit on cushy bike seats at a long bar, much like they do on the party bike. But on the cycleboat, riders power a massive paddlewheel at the back of the vessel, effectively propelling it through the water.

Cycleboats have been popping up in waterways across the country, but there are few cities more perfectly suited to viewing from a paddleboat than Boston. You can dine on all the waterfront patios you like, but you’ll never find views of Boston Harbor as good as those from the water. The tour cruises through the inner harbor, taking in views of the Boston Tea Party Ships, Bunker Hill, the USS Constitution, and the USS Cassin Young, the World War II destroyer. Occasionally, a tour path may deviate due to weather, pedaling into the Charles River to see Back Bay and Cambridge. Tours last about two hours, with 90 minutes spent on the water. During the nighttime Harbor Lights Cruise, enjoy the waterfront’s quieter hours and see the glimmering of city lights playing off the water.

The tours depart from Pier 6 in Charlestown, but if you don’t want to make the trek from your East Boston waterfront condos, just have Cycleboats Boston pick you up at another point on the Boston Harbor or Charles River. That’s right! The company will send a party boat out to pick up your group and ferry you wherever you’d like to go (within reason). Have a dinner reservation Downtown? Plan ahead and charter a ride with Cycleboats Boston, starting right from your new condos in East Boston, and the journey will be just as memorable as the destination, if not more so.

There’s a question that often pops up when people are considering a cycleboat tour: Is it hard work? After all, pedaling a bike uphill is exhausting, so it’s natural to wonder if powering a boat with your legs is any easier. In an interview with The Boston Globe, Mark Jacobson, Cycleboat Boston’s general manager, revealed the most common feedback he gets from customers: “It was easier than they expected.” He added, “It’s not like a spin class … but sort of a nice walk on the water with your friends.” To make things comfortable for everyone, the boat’s captain can alter the height of the paddlewheel, which in turn adjusts the difficulty of the pedaling. The boat also has a motor, and the captain is happy to use it if the weather goes south or if your group is simply ready for a break. And if you have folks in your group who can’t or don’t want to pedal, no worries — they are welcome aboard, too.

But let’s not forget about everyone’s favorite part: the food and drink. Down the middle of the bar, there’s a cooler, so you can bring your own beer, wine, and snacks. Everyone has a cup holder. You can make it fancy with a plate of charcuterie and a bottle of bubbly, or you can fill your cooler with local craft brews and pack some pretzels for energy. Whatever you bring, you’re sure to leave feeling energized from the invigorating combination of ocean air, physical activity, and a fresh perspective on your city.

After all of the peddling and socializing, make your way back to your East Boston condo at The Mark, where you’ll find plenty of luxury amenity spaces to enjoy the sunset view and refreshing harbor breeze.