Columbus would be proud. It’s been more than 500 years in coming, but two of his ships are making their way to Orange Beach, AL.
The Nina and Pinta replicas will be in port from March 2-5 at The Wharf, 23101 Canal Road in Orange Beach.
While the Niña and Pinta will be visiting, the Santa Maria will be absent. That’s because the original Santa Maria was a Nao, a kind of multi-masted cargo ship that served as a predecessor to the galleon and was larger than the smaller, faster and more easily maneuverable caravels Nina and Pinta. A replica of the Santa Maria built to size would require 14 feet of water depth, twice that of the Niña or Pinta; it would not be able to travel to and visit many of the places where the other two are welcomed.
The Nina is an exact replica of Columbus’ ship, with a deck length of 65 feet.
There are two types of tours, self-guided and guided. The self-guided tours are for individuals who simply arrive during open hours and pay to go aboard and experience the ships. The guided tours are only for groups of 15 or more paying guests, and are a true educational event, ideal for students.
During the tour you will learn what life was like aboard a ship in the 15th century, about Columbus’s many voyages, the mechanics of the ship, life aboard today, and much more.
Each tour will last an average of 30 minutes, with time split between The Nina and Pinta.
According to their website, the ships are floating museums and will remain tied to the dock for the duration of their stay.
Both the Niña and Pinta were built in Brazil, where the Columbus Foundation found shipbuilders using the same tools and means of construction as 1400s-era Spanish shipbuilders would have used in the 1400s. While no exact blueprints of the original ships remain in existence, discoveries of 15th and 16th century Spanish shipwrecks in the Caribbean helped clarify many details during construction of the replicas.
Admission charges are $8.50 for adults, $7.50 for seniors and $6.50 for students ages 5-16. Prices are good for admission to both ships. Children 4 and under are admitted free. The ships will be open every day from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
There are guided tour opportunities for school groups and other groups of 15 people or more. For group guided tours, call 787-672-2152.
Groups of 15 or more receive a group rate of $5 per person.
The ships will also be at Brooks Bridge Marina at 1198 Miracle Strip Parkway Southeast in Fort Walton Beach from March 8-11.
For more details, go to www.ninapinta.org.