Lines and block at sunrise

Frequent Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

For your convenience, our Frequently Asked Questions list has been divided into the following sections. Click a section to jump to that part of the list.
General Volunteers
Festival Activities The Tacoma Tall Ships® Organization
Parade of Sail Parties
Transportation and Parking Nautical
Tickets Employment
Take an exciting 3 hour sea cruise on an historic tall ship!

Board & tour a tall ship at the dock. Great family fun!

Parking and getting around
Printable map of the venue


INFORMATION LINE 253-272-5650 Mon-Fri | 9am - 7pm

What is Tall Ships® Tacoma?
The Tall Ships® Tacoma 2008 Festival is a free international sailing event and festival that is part of the American Sail Training Association’s Tall Ships CHALLENGE®.   More than 32 sailing vessels will visit Tacoma during the festival and will be available for tours and sailing adventures.  On land, three themed villages will be available for guests to enjoy entertainment, food, beer gardens, arts-and-crafts, hands-on activities, children’s activities, and the sights and sounds of being on board a sailing vessel.

Where and when is the festival?
The festival will be held along Tacoma’s Foss Waterway from July 3-7, 2008.  The festival grounds extend from Thea’s Park south along Dock Street to the 21st Street Bridge.

What are the hours the festival is open?
The festival is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day except July 3 when the festival opens at noon and on July 7 when it closes at 6 p.m.

  • July 3                        Noon – 8 p.m. (ships not open for tours)
  • July 4                        10 a.m. – 8 p.m. (ships close at 6 p.m.)
  • July 5                        10 a.m. – 8 p.m. (ships close at 6 p.m.)
  • July 6                        10 a.m. – 8 p.m. (ships close at 6 p.m.)
  • July 7                        10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

When are the ships available for tours? 
The ships are only available for boarding from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on July 4 - 7.
Lines for boarding close each day at 5 p.m.

Is the festival free?
The festival is free but you will need to purchase a ticket to board a vessel or take a sailing adventure.

How big is the festival?  Do I have to walk everywhere?
The festival grounds are about one-and-a-half miles along Dock Street.  Pedestrians can enjoy a leisurely walk along the waterway from one village to the next and frequent shuttles will be available along Dock Street.

Shuttles will run in one direction from the south end of Dock Street to the north.

Will food be available?  Can I bring my own?
Plenty of food and drink will be available for all tastes.  Visitors may also bring their own food into the festival if desired.  Please note that no food or beverages are allowed on the ships unless purchased as part of a sailing adventure.

Will there be a beer garden?
Three beer gardens will be open until 8 p.m. every day.  Only adults 21 and older will be allowed into the beer gardens.

Are there bathrooms available?
Yes, there will be portable facilities, including ADA-accessible facilities, available throughout the festival.  

What should I wear?  What should I bring?
We recommend dressing for a day in the Northwest.  You’ll want to wear comfortable shoes, bring sunscreen, a hat to shield you from the sun, and a rain coat (just in case).   If you plan on touring a ship or going on a sailing adventure you must wear proper footwear such as rubber-soled shoes; spike heels are not allowed on vessels.

Are animals allowed at the festival?
Only service animals are allowed at the festival.

Is the event accessible to all people?
Yes, the festival is accessible to everyone and is ADA-compliant.

Most of the vessels are historic sailing ships and present some challenges for people with limited mobility.  While vessels are not wheelchair-accessible, there will be designated ADA viewing areas within the festival.

Virtual tours of a number of the ships will be available as well.  Many of the on-shore activities and educational exhibits will be accessible to people with disabilities.

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What can I do for fun if I can’t get on a ship?
Three themed villages on the shoreline will offer spectators interactive and educational opportunities.  The villages – Northwest Passage, Trade Winds, and Treasure Cove, offer food and entertainment, as well as children’s activities.

In addition there will be educational displays from the American Sail Training Association available in the Foss Waterway seaport museum.

What kind of activities can I expect to find on shore?
Each village will be alive with educational events and exhibits, musical performances, and entertainment.  They will be jam-packed with food, crafts, displays and all sorts of nautical-themed activities.

What activities are available for children?
There will be plenty of activities for children -- games, hands-on activities, educational activities, children’s entertainment and pirates galore!

Can I picnic at the festival?
Picnicking is discouraged, however there are areas to dine on food purchased at the event

What kind of merchandise items will be available?
A variety of merchandise such as t-shirts, hats, and pins will be available for sale.  TTSO members will receive a 10 percent discount on all official merchandise.

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What is the Parade of Sail?  How can I watch it?
The Parade of Sail on July 3 is a unique event when all of the ships sail from Quartermaster Harbor on Vashon Island into Tacoma.  The ships will leave Quartermaster Harbor and head toward Point Defiance under full sail, then turn and sail parallel to Ruston Way.  The parade begins about 10 a.m. and will last about four or five hours.  Public viewing is available for free along Ruston Way and at Point Defiance.  The Parade of Sail will also be telecast on TV Tacoma.

Can I view the Parade of Sail and the ships moored in Foss Waterway from my boat?
Yes, but during the parade there will be several Coast Guard safety zones in effect into which non-event boats will not be allowed. Generally, a safety zone will extend from the Ruston Way shoreline out 400 yards.

Also, due to the extreme low tide that day, boats will not be allowed to anchor within the safety zone along the Ruston Way shoreline.  In addition, the log boom used for Freedom Fair on July 4 will not be available for mooring on July 3.

How close to the tall ships can I get with my boat?
The Coast Guard has established safety zones around each ship. No boats will be allowed to approach closer than 50 yards when ships are at sail, including during the Parade of Sail.

No unauthorized boats will be allowed within 50 feet of any ship while they are moored in the Foss Waterway.

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How do I get to the festival?
Only official TST 2008 vehicles will be allowed on Dock Street during the festival.  Shuttle buses will run continually from the official festival parking lot at the Tacoma Dome to the three festival villages. 

Parking is also available in lots downtown and and special Tall Ships® Tacoma shuttle buses will transport guests to the festival.

The main entrance to the festival is on Dock Street at 15th and A streets.

Bicycles will be allowed on the festival grounds but must be left in the Northwest Passage Village.  You will not be able to ride your bicycle throughout the festival. 

Public shuttle buses will operate daily from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. (shuttles will operate from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on July 3).

Where do I park?  Is parking free? 
Parking is available at the official festival parking lot at the Tacoma Dome for $10 per day.  Shuttles buses will bring guests to the festival grounds or you can walk three blocks to the entrance to the Northwest Passage village.

Parking is also available downtown.

Since parking is limited you are encouraged to carpool or take public transportation.

I’m a volunteer, where do I park?
There will be a specific parking lot for volunteers on the east side of the Foss Waterway.  More information will be provided during volunteer training.

Can I get to the festival by public transportation?
Yes, Pierce Transit will be operating its normal schedule.  For more information, check with the Pierce Transit website at

Will there be a lock-up area for bicycles?
Yes, there will be a secure area in the Northwest Passage Village (near the Museum of Glass) for bicycles.

Will I be able to drive into the event venue to drop someone off?
Dock Street will be closed to vehicles without prior authorization to enter. Marina tenants, residents and business operators must request passes to access and park at their authorized destinations. Dock Street will be one way northbound from D Street to Schuster Parkway. There will be no entry from Schuster Parkway to Dock Street.
There will be no public parking on the festival grounds. 

I have mobility problems and have a state-issued parking permit.  Can I park onsite?
ADA parking is available to vehicles that display a state-issued disabled parking permit.  You will be directed to part at the City of Tacoma lot underneath the Museum of Glass ($2.50 per hour).
In addition, you can park at the Tacoma Dome in lots D and E (reserved for disabled parking) and board one of our ADA-lift buses.  Parking is $10 per vehicle per day.  Volunteers will be available to direct you to the correct bus.

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When do tickets go on sale?

Tickets are now on sale for TTSO members only.  Public ticket sales begin May 19.  To become a TTSO member, please click on the “Be a Member” on the TST 2008 home page.


Do I need a ticket?  How much are tickets?
While the festival is free you will need a ticket to board a vessel or to participate in a sailing adventure.  Boarding passes are available for July 4-7, while sailing adventures are available for July 3-7.

General boarding passes cost $10 per day and premium boarding passes cost $20 per day.  The general boarding pass allows access to all the “B” and “C” class vessels while the premium boarding pass includes the “B” and “C” class vessels as well as the Niña, Kaisei and HMS Bounty.  No boarding pass is needed to tour the USCG Eagle.

A Treasure Pass is also available for $60 and allows boarding all vessels for four days.
At any given time about 50 percent of all the ships will be available for tours.
Children aged 10 and younger are free to board ships when accompanied by a paying adult.
Ships will be available for tours from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but lines for boarding will close each day at 5 p.m.
A variety sailing adventure tickets are available at various prices. 

Please click on the “Buy Tickets” button on the TST home page for more information about tickets and restrictions.

Do children need a ticket?
Children aged 10 and younger do not need a ticket to tour a vessel when accompanied by a paying adult.  However, every person regardless of age must have a ticket to go on a sailing adventure.  Vessels have a set capacity that is determined by the U.S. Coast Guard and its regulations require a manifest of every person on board the ship regardless of age.

Do I need a ticket to tour the USCG Eagle?
No, you will not need a ticket to tour the Eagle.

How long is the wait to tour the ships?
Times will vary depending on the size of the crowd.  The best boarding times will be early morning.  Lines for boarding close each day at 5 p.m.

Do I get to climb the masts of a ship?
No, only authorized crew members are allowed to climb the rigging of any ship.

Where can I buy tickets?
Tickets are available for sale online; please click on the “Buy Tickets” button on the TST home page for purchase tickets.

Mon-Fri, noon to 6 p.m. | Sat, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. PST


Tickets can also be purchased at the Tall Ships Tacoma Ticket Office at Freighthouse Square, 2501 East D St. in Tacoma.  Hours Mon-Fri noon to 6 p.m. and Sat 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.   Discount coupons for General Boarding Passes and Premium Boarding Passes are available from all State Farm insurance agents in the Puget Sound area from Centralia to north of Everett. 

Can I pay with a credit card or debit card?  What if I want to use a check?
Credit cards, debit cards and personal checks are accepted. 

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Who can volunteer?
Anyone can volunteer.  You don’t need specific experience to volunteer, just a desire to help and a willingness to have fun. 

Can children volunteer?
No, for safety reasons, volunteers need to be at least 16 (16 and 17 year olds must have parental permission).

Is there a deadline to volunteer?
Yes, volunteer recruitment ends May 1.  Positions are limited so please apply early so you don’t miss this exciting opportunity to work behind-the-scenes at the premier event in the South Sound.

Can people or groups volunteer to work together?
Yes, this is a great opportunity for groups to volunteer for a project together.  Many groups such as the Sea Scouts and local yacht clubs are volunteering together.

What is the time commitment and will I be trained?
Volunteers must commit to at least two five-hour shifts but are encouraged to work more.  All volunteers will participate in a comprehensive training program that begins in May.

Will I be able to choose my assignment? 
We will do our best to match you with your preferences.  Obviously, those who volunteer earliest will have the best chance of getting their preferred choices. 

Do I get a uniform?
Yes, every volunteer will receive an official uniform – a shirt, hat, water bottle pack, fanny pack and accreditation.  Volunteers will also receive a Volunteer Handbook and an invitation to the exclusive “Bon Voyage” party on July 7.

Will I get to see the ships for free if I volunteer? How about my family?
While we cannot confirm that volunteers will be able to tour the ships we are trying to offer this as a benefit.

Unfortunately, only volunteers will be allowed this privilege if we can offer it; family members will need to purchase tickets to tour the ships.

How do become I volunteer?
The easiest way to become a volunteer is to register online – click the “Volunteer Now” button on the TST home page.  You can also call the TST Office at (253) 272-5650 to register.

How long does the application form take to complete?
About 5 – 10 minutes.

Do I need an email address to register?
No, but if you have one you’ll be able to receive information through your e-mail account which will be much quicker than by postal service.   We encourage you to get access to an email address through a friend or relative because you will receive more information if you have an email. 

How will I know that you've received the application form?
After you submit your application, you will immediately be notified by return email that your application was received.

I got an error message when I tried to submit my online application, what should I do?
Please scroll to the top of the application page and look for a warning message directing your attention to a potential problem and review your application for any missing required fields (noted in red). After making the changes, click on the “Submit Application” button.

Will my personal information be stored securely?
Yes. Tall Ships® Tacoma will keep all personal information confidential and secure. We will only use the information to assign you as a volunteer, to accredit you as a volunteer, and to communicate with you about festival activities.

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What is TTSO?
The Tacoma Tall Ships® Tacoma Organization is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2006 with a three-part mission: to promote youth sail training activities, promote Tacoma and the Thea Foss Waterway as a world-class maritime tourism destination, and to produce events that celebrate Tacoma’s rich maritime history. The Tall Ships® Tacoma 2008 festival is the biggest event organized by TTSO.

I love TTSO’s mission.  How can I support it?
The easiest way to support TTSO is to become a member.  Members have various benefits in addition to helping TTSO.  Please click “Be a Member” on the TST home page for more information or to join.

TTSO also accepts tax-free donations.

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What is Tall Ships® After Hours?
Tall Ships® After Hours offers customized private parties after the festival closes.  Various options are available to make a memorable experience for corporate guests and VIPs.  Please contact the Sales Department for more information at

I want to have a party; can I have one on a ship?
Parties are not allowed aboard the ships but a variety of venues are available at the festival for customized parties.

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What are tall ships?
Tall ships are sailing vessels that are traditionally thought of as the old square-rigged sailing ships like those seen in pirate movies. However, to be more precise, the tall ships that will come to Tacoma are boats that are fore- and aft-rigged, as well as the traditional square-rigged ships. The vessels will range in size from 40 feet to more than 300 feet.

Is Tall Ships® Tacoma associated with ASTA’s Tall Ships CHALLENGE®?
Yes, we are proud to be a part of the Tall Ships CHALLENGE®.

What is the Tall Ships Challenge®?
The Tall Ships CHALLENGE® is a series of sailing races, cruises, crew rallies and maritime festivals organized by the American Sail Training Association in conjunction with U.S. and Canadian ports.  The race is held on the Atlanta Coast, the Great Lakes and the Pacific Coast every third year.  In 2008, the Pacific Coast series includes Tacoma.

For more information, visit the ASTA website at

2008 Pacific Coast Series

            June 25-29               Victoria, British Columbia
            July 3-7                  TACOMA
            July 10-12               Port Alberni, British Columbia
            July 23-27               San Francisco, Calif.
            Aug. 7-10               Oxnard Channel Islands, Calif.
            Aug. 15-17             Los Angeles, Calif.
            Aug. 20-24             San Diego, Calif.

How close to the tall ships can I get with my boat?
The Coast Guard has established safety zones around each ship. No boats will be allowed to approach closer than 50 yards when ships are at sail, including during the Parade of Sail.

No unauthorized boats will be allowed within 50 feet of any ship while they are moored in the Foss Waterway.

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Can I get a job with the festival?
At this time no paid positions are available but there are many volunteer opportunities for people to participate.

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