Photo courtesy of Boston Harbor Cruises.
Photo courtesy of Boston Harbor Cruises.

Boston Harbor Cruises, which offers such services as sightseeing cruises and the New England Aquarium Whale Watch, said it plans to operate ferry service to the Boston Harbor Islands from Long Wharf in Boston, starting in May and running through the fall.

Operating 43 vessels including MBTA commuter boats, Boston Harbor Cruises carries more than 2 million passengers each year and describes itself as the largest commercial vessel operator in New England.

Boston Harbor Cruises said it recently purchased additional docking rights on Long Wharf from a company called Boston’s Best Cruises. As a result of the transaction, Boston Harbor Cruises can now berth up to eight vessels at a time at Long Wharf, up from six, said Alison Nolan, the principal of Boston Harbor Cruises. A private company, Boston Harbor Cruises did not disclose the amount of the purchase price.

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The transaction included Boston’s Best Cruises contract with the Boston Harbor Island Alliance to operate ferry service to the Boston Harbor Islands, Nolan said.

Boston Harbor Cruises had previously offered ferry service to the islands from about the 1970s until the early 2000s, Nolan said.

Passenger counts to the harbor island have generally been trending upward, peaking at 130,000 ferry riders in 2012, said Philip Griffiths, president and chief executive of the Boston Harbor Island Alliance. But the business is “weather dependent,” he said. Because of unpleasant weather last year, the number of riders to the islands fell to 120,000, he said.

The Boston Harbor Islands National Park is the largest recreation area in metro Boston, the Boston Harbor Cruises’ press release noted. Visitors to the islands can enjoy swimming, exploring, and kayaking, among other pursuits.

“We are thrilled to be running this ferry service under contract with the Boston Harbor Island Alliance,” Nolan said in a statement. “Just a short ferry ride away, this unique and picturesque National Park Area offers beautiful venues for the public to explore all summer long.”

An attempt to reach Boston’s Best Cruises was not immediately successful.