I will be in the Bay Area for July 22, 23, 24.

I have a really big interest in large container ships and tanker ships.

I learned that there is a tour of the Port of Oakland, but to my dismay, there is not one taking place during the dates I will be there.

Are there any other tours or experiences for someone who just want to see/experience large ships around the ports of the bay area?

  • I'm sure you can hire a boat (and a driver if needed) for a private tour if there's nothng else.
    – CMaster
    Jun 24, 2016 at 9:03
  • Not exactly what you're looking for but you can tour FDR's "floating white house", the USS Potemac. See here: usspotomac.org/events/dockside.php
    – DoxyLover
    Jun 24, 2016 at 18:12
  • Related: Watching container ships in SF bay area?
    – mts
    Jul 5, 2016 at 17:13
  • Since by now you must have taken this trip, any chance you did find something and would like to provide an answer to your own question?
    – mts
    Nov 25, 2016 at 22:13
  • I did not find an answer. But I did take a red and white golden gate cruise, and lucked out and had the container ship "Ever Sigma" flank us the whole voyage.
    – Scorb
    Nov 25, 2016 at 22:55

3 Answers 3


I would check out whether there are big ship in the area and if so, book a tour with a company that has small boats.
You may have to book the whole of the tour, so the fewer empty seats, the more likely you will not have to pay a fortune.

Best ask the companies for your requested tour before you commit booking a whole boat, there might be one we overlooked.

This site lists a lot of tours in the area.

  • USS Hornet. Designated a National Historic Landmark, the ship also recovered the Apollo 12 capsule and crew and artifacts from its space mission are displayed onboard. www.uss-hornet.org/
  • USS Pampanito. Built in 1943, the sub made six patrols in the Pacific during the war, sinking six Japanese ships and damaging four more. www.maritime.org
  • S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien. The ship, at 441 feet long and 57 feet wide, was originally made to carry cargo. Liberty Ships were built quickly and expected to make just one ocean trip. The O’Brien, however, made several. It first set sail in 1943 and was chosen for restoration in 1966. www.ssjeremiahobrien.org
  • You forgot the S.S. Red Oak Victory, 455 ft long and 62 feet wide. Jan 2, 2017 at 6:49
  • Right. There are probably more. I just mentioned those I know about.
    – k1rushqa
    Jan 2, 2017 at 6:51
  • @pnuts -- the Jeremiah O'Brien and the Red Oak Victory pre-date containers, and so pre-date container ships, but they filled the ecological niche that container ships fill today. Since container ships are still in service, and still making money, I doubt their owners would be willing to take them out of service so the OP can ogle their innards. The Liberty and Victory ships might be very good substitutes. Jan 2, 2017 at 21:34
  • The Red Oak Victory link in @Malvolio's Comment is now dead. The current link is: redoakvictory.us Jan 10, 2020 at 16:08

No, you will not be able to 'tour' a container or tanker without a very specific and legitimate, to the owner, reason.

This is because they can't just let people onboard, insurance, security are major factors.

Some examples of legitimate reasons would be:

  • TV/Film production
  • Journalism
  • Significant Payment*
  • Inspecting your cargo

*Yes, if you are willing to pay enough, the owner will make whatever arrangements necessary.

If you are really interested in such vessels, you can book travel on a container ship. After all the procedures, you have access to most areas of the ship, more when accompanied. Information: Cargo Ship Travel

  • 3
    I didn't think the question was necessarily about going on board such a ship, but maybe just looking at them - either up close or from a distance. Dec 28, 2016 at 16:41
  • 1
    Correct, this answer misinterpreted the question.
    – Scorb
    Dec 28, 2016 at 16:57
  • The question seem fairly clear 'large ship tours' suggests tours of the ships. Just seeing the ships would be harbor/terminal tour.
    – DTRT
    Dec 28, 2016 at 17:21
  • @pnuts No. Op could just mean a tour that get's near the ship, but maybe not. I was just answering a plausible scenario.
    – DTRT
    Jan 4, 2017 at 15:33

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