Replica Columbus ships now in Biloxi

The Biloxi schooners have historic company: Replicas of the “Nina” and “Pinta” are now in Biloxi and will be open for tours on Friday.

The ships are docked at the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum schooner pier, 367 Beach Blvd., and open for tours on Friday through Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Both ships are replica caravels, or small sailing ships, based on vessels that were originally built in the 15th century by the Portuguese as highly maneuverable ships to explore along the West African coast and into the Atlantic Ocean.  The “Nina,” built by hand and without the use of power tools, is considered to be the most historically accurate Columbus replica ever built.  The “Pinta” was built in Brazil and is a larger version of the archetypal caravel.

So, where is the “Santa Maria,” the third of Columbus’s fabled vessels that sailed the ocean blue? According to a representative with Columbus Ships, the “Santa Maria” was about twice the size of its sister ships and would have difficultly maneuvering through the waterways. Besides, the “Santa Maria,” actually never made the return voyage to Spain and shipwrecked in Haiti on Christmas Day 1492, while the “Nina,” Columbus’s favorite of the trio, and the “Pinta” completed the return journey to Spain on March 15, 1493.

Admission to view the two ships is $8.50 for adults, $7.50 for seniors, $6 for ages 5 to 16, and free for children age four and younger. No reservations necessary.

Group tours may be scheduled with a minimum of 15, no maximum, for $5 a person.  Teachers or groups wishing to schedule a 30-minute guided tour with a crew member should call the ship crew at 1-787-672-2152 or email

The Biloxi Schooners also will offer walk-on tours for groups or individuals for $1 a person. Call the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum at 228-435-6320 or email to arrange tours.
Photo gallery:  See images of the replicas at the Schooner pier
Read more about the replicas
Visit the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum website


Hemphill previews initial work on South Contract

More than two dozen people turned out at the Biloxi Visitors Center Wednesday night to hear more about the city’s plan to bring infrastructure work to south of the CSX railway beginning in January.

Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich told residents, most of whom wanted to avoid the wholesale disruption caused by infrastructure north of the railway, that those same issues would be minimized in the upcoming 800-day, $23 million contract.

Another concern: What about fences and sidewalks? Will they be restored? Under the FEMA guidelines, the contract requires that fences and sidewalks be restored; however, fences that had been erected on city rights-of-way would have to be restored at the correct property line. The contractor also said he planned to communicate closely with residents when work was planned on their street.

“We plan to always have driveways open for property owners, and for emergency vehicles,” said Robert Waltman, one of the superintendents for contractor Hemphill Construction. “Our goal is to do the best we can to keep residents aware of our schedules, which are being finalized now.”

Added Mayor Gilich after the meeting: “Make no mistake, this is a big project, and there’s going to be inconveniences. But this contract that we have in place gives the city far more control than we have over the North Contract. You’re not going to see every street torn up at the same time.”
Video: Hemphill explains the initial phases of the South project
Photo gallery: Images from the meeting Wednesday
See the postcard with map and project background
City Desk: CAO Mike Leonard discusses the meeting and project
Video: See the latest on the North Contract


News and notes: City Desk, Santa at the Fire Museum

City Desk: Another edition of the weekly City Desk podcast was recorded this morning at Biloxi City Hall.  This edition focuses on the Phase 1 of the South Contract meeting and the upcoming Holiday Open House. To listen, click here

Santa at the Fire Museum:  Santa Claus is coming to the West End Hose Co. #3 on Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m.  There will be snacks, Christmas music and the museum will be open for free tours.  To see the flyer, click here.