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Along the Waterfront with Julie Doherty Pagano
As General Manager of the Bay State Cruise Company, Julie Doherty Pagano oversees a fleet of ferry and charter boats, including the seasonal ferries running daily between Boston and Provincetown, Cape Cod. We asked Julie to reflect on her job and passion for the sea.
Tell us about your background and your affiliation with Bay State Cruises, which celebrates its 44th year in 2017.
I have worked on Boston harbor for most of my life, and continue to do what I love; it never feels like work to me. As a young girl my dear mother, Rita Pagano would bring me and my sister Dani to work with her at her father’s charter boat company located on Long Wharf. It was a small family business at the time, and you had to learn the ropes, so to speak. I worked my way up from being a deckhand, bartender and ticket agent to the front office, and then from sales & marketing to president of the company. We sold the business in 1996.
I continued my career at Spirit Cruises which owned Bay State Cruise Company. Bay State Cruises was then sold off to a former Spirit employee Mike Glasfeld, who as a deckhand worked his way up to become General Manager/VP of Marine Operations during his tenure at Spirit Cruises.
Tell us about the ferry between Boston and Provincetown on Cape Cod, surely one of the most popular summer outings in Massachusetts.
The ferries transport over 200,000 passengers a year between Boston and Ptown. Our schedule affords three daily departures from each port, six round trips per day seven days a week from mid-May through October.
Our customer base of domestic and international travelers includes students, artist and families, with a strong focus on the LGBT community. We pride ourselves on knowing our customers by name – some have travelled with us for over 15 years – and remain small enough to focus on the finer details of the company such as keeping the vessels clean, creating a friendly work environment for our employees, and always striving for good customer service.
We host over 100 private charter events annually, providing transport for children at Camp Harbor View and the Save the Harbor/Save the Bay day-long island outings. We also own and operate Mayflower Trolley, which conducts sightseeing tours in Provincetown and private charters throughout the Cape. In addition, we have fast ferry service in the Caribbean, Florida, and New York.
The new Ray Flynn Cruise Port in South Boston is bustling. Can you talk about the cruise industry and how Boston is faring in this competitive sector?
Ray Flynn’s Cruiseport and the Seaport District have seen an immense growth over the past few years. Cruiseport is bringing over 300,000 people to our area. We see an increase of extended days spent in Boston, utilizing our sightseeing tours, hotels, restaurants and attractions.
Our passenger numbers have increased during this time and we attribute it to the ships utilizing Cruiseport and our location in the Seaport. While I miss the cobblestone sidewalks, it is has been great to watch this vibrant neighborhood grow.
The Boston Harbor cleanup really spurred a new era of maritime activities up and down the seacoast and the Harbor Islands coming to life. How do you convey the illustrious maritime history of Massachusetts to guests on your boat, especially children?
I have been lucky to have spent over 40 years on this waterfront and to share stories with my son Garrett. I still cheer the planes as they fly low over our vessels. My biggest joy is watching the young children board ships, some for their first time. Their excitement is heartwarming. We help to educate them about the great history of our harbor and the working port that employs thousands. We teach them how to tie a line, and tell them how the harbor islands protect the city from storms.
My hope is that one of those children will feel the way I did many years ago, and build not just a career but continue to help maintain the future of our ever changing beautiful waterfront.