OCEAN CITY — Against the backdrop of a steamy mid-August afternoon, the 15th century replica tall ship NAO Santa Maria of Christopher Columbus fame on Wednesday chugged through the Inlet and the Route 50 Bridge to its new home on 3rd Street.
The Nao Victoria Foundation’s replica tall ship Santa Maria opened for tours on Thursday and will remain in the resort for the next 24 days. The tours will end on Sept. 5 and the Santa Maria will depart Ocean City on Sept. 6, although the dates are subject to change.
The Santa Maria’s visit will follow a pattern similar to recent visits from replica tall ships to the resort. The Nao Victoria Foundation brought the Santa Maria’s sister tall ship El Galeon Andalucia to Ocean City three different times in 2013, 2014 and 2017. In 2018, the replica Viking ship Draken arrived for a stint in Ocean City, but the town has not hosted a tall ship since.
The full-scale replica of the 15th century merchant vessel, known as a carrack, showcases what was conceived as a modern innovation over 500 years ago. The Nao Victoria Foundation designed and built the replica Santa Maria in 2017 and it has been touring around seaports in the U.S. since.
“We are excited to host a piece of history right here in Ocean City,” said Special Events Director Frank Miller. “We have hosted other tall ships, but this is a first for the Nao Santa Maria.”
The downtown park at 3rd Street will become a festival of sorts during Santa Maria’s visit with vendors and daily tours of the visiting vessel. The ship will be open for tickets from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day. Tickets are available at the dock, or by visiting www.naosantamaria.org. The cost is $15 for adults and $5 for kids from five to 10-years old. Kids under five are free with an adult. Family tickets are $35 and includes two adults and up to three kids that are 5-12-years-old.