Ahoy! Maritime Museum of San Diego Reopens

The museum of historic ships along San Diego’s waterfront is up and running again – but some things have changed, for now

111408 Festival of Sail
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After being temporarily closed for more than three months due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the Maritime Museum of San Diego reopened Wednesday, with its famous fleet on display once more along the scenic waterfront.

The museum in downtown’s Embarcadero area – at Star of India Wharf on North Harbor Drive – had shuttered on March 16 as the pandemic reached San Diego County.

On Wednesday, it became the latest museum in San Diego County to reopen, on the same day as the nearby USS Midway Museum reopened.

Of course, the Maritime Museum’s reopening comes with a new set of pandemic-era rules and safety guidelines set forth by state and local health officials. The museum said it is closely following those rules, and also recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as it safely reopens to the public.

The new safety measures include limiting the museum’s visitor capacity to 25% of normal capacity so that visitors can keep their social distance.

The Maritime Museum is spread out among several docked historic ships – including the iconic Star of India – and the museum believes that this unique set-up will help them keep visitors safely distanced from one another. The museum has also set up 6-foot markers on the decks of the vessels to remind visitors about the social distance rules.

Also on deck: temperature checks and wellness screenings, now required for all staff, volunteers, and visitors before they enter the museum. All staff and visitors must also wear face masks, at all times.

The Maritime Museum will run with condensed hours, for now, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Tickets for same-day visits will be sold until 4 p.m., and the number of tickets sold daily will depend on the new reduced capacity rules. Reservations, as of now, are not required.

Guests will be let in one at a time, with capacity monitored every 15 minutes, according to the museum. This may result in a bit of a wait for visitors as they walk from ship to ship.

Some interior exhibit areas remain closed for public safety and only self-guided tours are available right now, as group tours are temporarily discontinued. USS Dolphin, Soviet Naval Submarines, and HMS Surprise will also remain closed. The self-guided tour begins at the Berkeley steamboat and ends with the Star of India.

Maritime Museum docents, staff, and volunteers will still be stationed throughout the tour to help guests with any questions.

The museum’s gift shop remains closed due to its “high-touch” nature, the museum said.

Additional sanitation, disinfection and cleaning procedures have been implemented throughout the attraction, and there are more hand sanitizer dispensers available for visitors to use, the museum said.

As for tickets, the museum urges visitors to go “touch-free” and buy tickets online in advance. Museum Ticket Booth machines near the attraction will still sell tickets, but bring a credit or debit card, because cash will not be accepted.

The attraction is still offering some of its on-the-water experiences, including the 45-minute Pilot Boat Bay Tour, but others are temporarily not available.

The Maritime Museum said members who had active memberships during the museum’s pandemic closure period will have their memberships honored for the amount of time the museum was closed. Expired guest passes will also be accepted for the same amount of time – 15 ½ weeks, to be exact – that the museum was closed. That time period to use those passes starts July 1.

The Maritime Museum of San Diego is located along north Embacadero and is home to the Star of India, the world’s oldest active sailing ship. The museum’s fleet also includes tall ships, steam-powered boats and submarines, and exhibitions that highlight maritime heritage.

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