Free Port of Oakland harbor tours give passengers an inside look at the seaport

The Port of Oakland is giving people a chance to see its iconic container cranes, mega-ships, and dockworkers up close during four more free harbor tours this year.

Adults and children who register for free tickets can board a Blue & Gold Ferry at the Oakland Jack London Terminal at 6:45 p.m. on July 12. The narrated tour lasts 90 minutes and takes passengers through the seaport, the first major port on the Pacific Coast to build terminals for container ships. There is also an Aug. 16 cruise scheduled at 6:45 p.m. and two in the fall on Sept. 13 and Oct. 18 that begin at 5:30 p.m.

Boarding begins 15 minutes before the boat leaves.

The arrival of the cargo ship Gerner Maersk is viewed from aboard the Port of Oakland’s free monthly cruise boat ride, Friday evening, June 14, 2024, in Oakland, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 

Tours take guests into the Oakland middle and outer harbors, under the western span of the Bay Bridge near Yerba Buena Island and back to Jack London Square. While sailing, a narrator tells passengers about the global economic and job impact of the port’s seaport functions, fun facts about the port and the history of the operation.

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Officials say the harbor tours provide a unique vantage point because the port’s marine terminals can be viewed from the water. It’s also a great opportunity to take pictures of the San Francisco skyline, the Bay Bridge and the region’s magnificent sunsets.

Boarding is at the Oakland Jack London Terminal ferry dock at 10 Clay St. There are nearby parking lots that charge to park.

Online registration on the port’s website for the tour on July 12 starts at 8 p.m. Monday, July 1. The 230 tickets are often swiped up in a few minutes. It is not possible to register for the August, September or October tours until the first Monday of the month for that month’s tour. You must bring your printed or electronic ticket to the tour to be allowed on the boat.

Spectators aboard the Port of Oakland’s free monthly cruise take in the sights of the Ben E. Nutter Terminal, Friday , June 14, 2024, in Oakland, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 

A few more helpful tips

Anyone under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

Tickets are transferable, but you must update your registration information before tour day by emailing harbortours@portoakland.com.

No outside food or drinks are allowed on the boat, but light snacks and beverages are sold on board.

The boats are wheelchair accessible on the main level, but not on the second or third decks. The bathrooms are all wheelchair accessible.

No pets other than leashed service dogs are allowed on the boat. Comfort animals are not allowed on the tours.

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The USS Potomac is viewed from the Port of Oakland’s free monthly cruise, Friday evening, June 14, 2024, in Oakland, Calif. The ship was known as the Floating White House during the term of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 
The arrival of the cargo ship Gerner Maersk is viewed from aboard the Port of Oakland’s free monthly cruise, Friday evening, June 14, 2024, in Oakland, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 
The arrival of the cargo ship Gerner Maersk is viewed from aboard the Port of Oakland’s free monthly cruise boat ride, Friday evening, June 14, 2024, in Oakland, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 
The Port of Oakland’s giant cargo cranes are silhouetted against the late afternoon sky in a view from the free monthly harbor cruise, Friday evening, June 14, 2024, in Oakland, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 

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