Tenant Spotlight: Red Top Boats

Out: Sitting in Boston Traffic

In: Cruising along the harbor to get to your destination

A local water taxi service presents a new and improved means for getting to the airport, casino, restaurants, and more.

Tony Carli, founder of Red Top Boats

Red Top Boats was founded in 2021 by Tony Carli and offers on-demand water taxi service on Boston Harbor. Carli started Red Top Boats after retiring from his position as fire chief in Everett, Massachusetts. “When I thought about retirement,” says Carli, “I knew I didn’t want to just sit around drive everybody crazy.” Thanks to a stint in the Coast Guard earlier in his career, Carli had obtained and maintained his captain’s license, and “always loved working on Boston Harbor.” He described it as a “natural” transition from retiring to founding Red Top Boats. 

Red Top's “on-demand” model means that passengers can call a water taxi to pick them up at one of multiple locations on Boston Harbor and brought to their destination via the water – avoiding traffic on the road and providing some incredible harbor views!

Red Top operates year-round, with one to two boats operating in the winter, and up to five boats operating in the summer. In the winter, the vessels are covered and heated for a comfortable ride. All of their vessels are Coast Guard inspected and can carry up to 18 passengers. They have grown to about twenty employees during the summer, thanks to the “support of Ocean Havens, the shipyard, and the residents of East Boston.” 

In addition to the on-demand taxi service to the public, Red Top Boats also has a partnership with the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), bringing passengers to and from their seaport location to the Watershed exhibit in the shipyard. This upcoming summer will be Red Top’s third season working with the ICA, running shuttles to the Watershed between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Group of people on a boat

Beyond shuttle services, Red Top also does private charters. This is a great idea for groups looking to host unique bachelor(ette) parties, birthdays, engagements, and more. Carli estimates they have seen “close to twenty engagements since [they’ve] started,” which was something he did not expect when starting the company. They also have assisted multiple burials at sea which is another thing Carli “never would have thought would have been a part of the business.” These are fully compliant with EPA rules and Carli finds that it has “been nice to provide people closure.”

Red Top Boats does private charters for up to two hours for groups looking to celebrate an occasion – or just because! – with a cruise around the harbor.

Carli estimates that Red Top Boats serves 35,000 people each year across all areas of business. He notes that a large portion are travelers headed to the airport, and they saw a “big increase” in ridership with the tunnel closure last summer. More of the locals are utilizing water transportation as a “convenient way to get around,” Carli finds. New buildings and restaurants have been helpful in getting the word out about Red Top, as well as the Encore Casino, who uses Red Top as a shuttle between them and the airport. 

Red Top Boats

For locals looking to use their water taxi service, Red Top Boats does offer discounts such as a 10-ride bundled pass. Their water taxi is a great way to get to the North End, Downtown, Seaport, Charlestown, East Boston, and airport – no sitting in traffic necessary! Their complete map of pick-up and drop-off locations can be found on their website.

Red Top Boats calls Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina home, and Carli loves having a “supportive” location. As a resident of the North Shore, it is a convenient spot for him, but also helpful in keeping his services affordable. “If we didn’t have the shipyard with workspace, office space, commercial space,” says Carli, “I wouldn’t be able to charge what I charge.” Having an onsite location is what enables Carli to keep his prices reasonable for customers. 

Avoid the city traffic and travel in style aboard a Red Top water taxi the next time you are traveling around Boston Harbor. Learn more about their on-demand service as well as how to book a private charter by visiting their website. 

Red Top Boats