Spanish Tall Ship Nao Santa Maria Sails into Newburyport

By Caitlin Dowling, Correspondent
Caitlin is a freelance editor/writer and former news producer for CNN. As a local mom of three, her family can be found enjoying all Newburyport has to offer, from strolling downtown to biking the rail trail to swimming at the beach.
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In the Spring of 2019, crowds gathered along coastlines from Plum Island to Salisbury to watch the 200-ton Spanish tall ship, Nao Santa Maria, sail into Newburyport. The Custom House Maritime Museum docked this replica of Christopher Columbus’  flagship the Santa Maria at the city’s Waterfront Park as part of their annual Newburyport Maritime Days celebration.

Built and launched in Spain in 2018, the 92-foot Nao Santa Maria was created by the same private foundation that built El Galeón, the Spanish tall ship that visited Newburyport in 2016. The Nao Santa Maria was built to honor the 555th anniversary of Christopher Columbus sailing to America from Spain.

Visitors flocked to Newburyport, the ship’s only stop on the East Coast, to explore and tour the Nao Santo Maria while it remained docked in town for over a week. Along with public tours, the Custom House Maritime Museum also hosted special events aboard the ship like a private breakfast and a special Little Pirates themed morning for kids. For adults, the CHMM Pirates Party featuring nationally touring Jimmy Buffett tribute band, Changes in Latitudes, dancing, and rum cocktails was a huge hit and the CHMM Black Tie Gala was an elegant evening with a 12 piece big band playing the Great American Songbook, food catered by the Poynt, and a selection of Spanish wines. The Council for Aging also had a chance to climb aboard the Spanish tall ship for coffee and donuts and a cocktail hour.

In addition to all the fun onboard the Nao Santa Maria, the Custom House Maritime Museum kept the festivities going onshore with an outdoor market showcasing local businesses at the waterfront park. The Newburyport Collection featured 18 local businesses to explore, sample, and shop.

A visit to the Custom House Maritime Museum is always a must when visiting downtown Newburyport. Whether you are a tourist or local, this museum is full of information and history about the city of Newburyport and the Merrimack Valley. From displays of famous shipwrecks to the history of the Coast Guard, there is something for everyone.

If you enjoy dining and shopping in the Greater Newburyport area, you may want to consider purchasing a Newburyport VIP Card in support of the Custom House Maritime Museum. The VIP Card provides discounts at 180 Greater Newburyport restaurants and shops and is available as a Digital VIP Card in the Newburyport App or as a Physical VIP Card. Purchase one card for $25 or two for $40 and $10 of your purchase will be donated to the Custom House Maritime Museum. Physical VIP Cards are available for purchase in the museum gift shop and both Digital and Physical VIP Cards can be purchased online. VIP Cardholders receive 10% off purchases of $25 or more in the museum gift shop and 50% off museum admission.