Page 17: of Maritime Reporter Magazine (January 2018)
Ship Repair & Conversion
Alison Nolan is General Manager and a fourth-generation owner of Boston Harbor Cruises (BHC), a company that moves more than 2.5 million passengers annually on its ? eet of 60 vessels with more than 600 daily departures seven ports and more than 30 facilities. But the story of BHC and Alison Nolan transcends raw numbers; as the company and passenger vessel industry are in her DNA, more of a lifestyle than a career.
She spoke with Maritime Reporter & Engineering News recently to address the rewards and challenges in- herent in her position.
BY GREG TRAUTHWEIN
Gazing Cruises in partnership with the
We understand your family has a long ly traveled commuter route. This transformed Wharf at BHC. They’d give me little jobs to
Museum of Science, Commuter Ferries history operating passenger vessels BHC from a seasonal business to a year- keep me busy and out of everyone’s way like and more. BHC also launched a special- in the Northeast U.S. Please give us a round venture for the very ? rst time in our sweeping the docks or picking up trash. I re- ized Offshore Logistics Division which brief historical overview of the Boston history. Since then, the MBTA has awarded member feeling a real connection to BHC and additional commuter ferry contracts to the the waterfront even then and learned through operates ? ve OSV’s including a 240-ft.
company, the largest carrying 5,000 passen- my small jobs that to work at something was
DP2 vessel in support of geophysical re-
In 1926, soon after becoming the young- gers per day. to make it better. From then on, I worked my search and survey, UUV testing and re- est licensed captain in the history of the port
Today, the company continues to grow with way through the ranks as a deckhand, galley covery, LNG and Offshore Wind support of Boston, 16-year-old Matthew “Matty” and commercial dive services.
Hughes founded Boston Harbor Cruises Partners Rick, Chris and myself, Matty’s attendant, ticket agent, cash management, IT, (BHC). BHC’s ? rst venture, with only great-granddaughter and Chris’ son Patrick. business development and more. Gaining
In addition to commuter runs, current two full-time employees, was a 30-minute How long have you been with BHC, how varied experience and an insider’s look every service offerings include Whale Watches
Charles River cruise for 10¢ with a boat bor- did you start and when did you ? rst step of the way. I developed a deep love of in partnership with the New England realize that your family business was and respect for the company, our passengers, rowed from a friend. This continued until
Aquarium, the Provincetown Fast Ferry, 1942 when service was interrupted as Mat- indeed your destiny, too? the city of Boston, the Harbor, our industry nine different Sightseeing Cruises in- ty enlisted and served as a USN Seabee in Since BHC is a family business with a 90- and so much more. After college, I came to cluding Brunch and Sunset Cruises, the
World War II. year history, I have quite literally been with work at BHC full time. In 2006, with my
Salem Fast Ferry, Ferries to the Boston the company all my life. So, to say it’s in hands-on experience as a strong foundation,
After the war, Matty expanded operations
Harbor Islands National and State Park, my blood would be an understatement. As I earned ownership in the company and was to include vessels inside Boston Harbor – $2
Private Events, Codzilla high speed thrill sightseeing tours running three times a day. a young child, spending time with the fam- named to my current position of Principal ride, an on-call Water Taxi Fleet, Star
It was during this era that BHC became a true ily in season, meant spending time on Long and General Manager.
family-run enterprise with Matty’s daughters,
Rookie and Rita (second generation), coming on board, followed closely by their children.
Backed with the arsenal of experience and expertise he had built during his time in the
Seabees, he grew the ? eet by purchasing and refurbishing U.S. military surplus vessels.
In the early 60s, the family switched its em- phasis to deep sea ? shing expeditions. Pas- sengers would charter day and overnight trips to Stellwagen or Georges Bank for just $6 for a full day in search of cod, haddock, halibut, blue ? sh, tuna and more.
In the late 1970s, recognizing the oppor- tunity that a new in? ux of visitors brought about by newly developed tourist attractions such as the New England Aquarium and Fa- neuil Hall Marketplace, BHC moved back into the sightseeing market. But this time it would be Matty’s grandchildren, includ- ing current principals Rick and Chris Nolan (third generation) who would be at the helm.
In the 1980s, their leadership was instru- mental in BHC securing a contract with the
Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority to pro- vide water transportation services between downtown Boston and Charlestown, a heavi-
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