If you’re in New England this summer and looking for something more than a barbecue on Independence Day, why not take a cruise through Boston harbor on the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat?
A lottery for 150 open spots on the USS Constitution’s annual July 4 voyage went live Feb. 3, for the ship’s last turnaround cruise before it goes into a dry dock for repairs through 2018.
Guests aboard “Old Ironsides” will enjoy a three-hour trip around the harbor, complete with 21-gun salute exchange with Fort Independence on Castle Island in South Boston.
To enter, simply fill out a form and return it by email or snail mail by noon on April 15. An April 30 drawing will select the winners, who are allowed to bring one guest.
All attendees must be between the ages of 8 and 70 and in good enough physical condition to go up and down the ship’s narrow ladder wells, as well as stand for prolonged periods in rain or shine.
Launched in 1797 as the third ship in the U.S. Navy’s fleet, Constitution defended the new American nation until 1855, defeating five British warships during the War of 1812. Later, she served as a training ship for the Naval Academy during the Civil War.
Constitution officially retired in 1891 and became a museum ship in 1907. Today she resides in Boston’s Charlestown Navy Yard with 60 active-duty officers and enlisted sailors, who put on ceremonies, educational outreach and other special events.