This Haunted Ship in Quincy Is the Stuff of Nightmares

Ghost Ship Harbor is a very Boston twist on the traditional haunted house.

uss salem

Photo via Wikimedia/Creative Commons

A haunted ship riddled with ghosts is docked in Quincy Harbor, and starting in September, it will be open for visitors to experience its terrors.

The USS Salem is a warship built in the 1940s that’s been a museum for 22 years. But this Halloween season, the vessel will become a chilling nightmare called Ghost Ship Harbor, with more than 60,000-square-feet of space for interactive haunted experiences.

Leave it to Boston to create a hair-raising haunted house that’s not actually in a house, but on a ship docked in the harbor. Ghost Ship Harbor founder Matt DiRoberto had been searching for a place to establish a haunted attraction in the city for four years.

“There’s nothing really like this close to Boston,” he says, adding that experiences like Spooky World are an hour’s drive or more.

The premise is this: A plague has ravaged the human race, and hopping on the USS Salem is civilization’s last chance at survival. Before boarding, people are subjected to eye scans to ensure they’re virus-free. Once on the boat, though, visitors quickly realize the virus isn’t actually contained. Creepy happenings and gory mayhem ensues.

“For us, it was really important to try to find something that was haunted,” says DiRoberto.

Yes, the USS Salem is rumored to be haunted. Nicknamed “the Sea Witch,” the boat rescued victims of a powerful earthquake that rocked Greece in 1953. It served as a hospital and a morgue for the earthquake’s victims, and apparently, spirits of those treated on the ship have lingered since then. The site boasts multiple ghost sightings and an appearance on Syfy’s Ghost Hunters.

To create a truly chilling experience, DiRoberto is partnering with Jason Egan of Las Vegas’ Fright Dome, one of the top-ranking haunted houses in the country.

“To launch in a new market like Boston and work in a location that is notoriously haunted is amazing,” Egan wrote in a statement.

A visit to Ghost Ship Harbor offers three experience options: Contagion, where those fleeing the mainland must undergo a thorough examination before boarding the ship, Plague, where chaos breaks loose once the virus is discovered on the ship, and Ouija, a VIP-type experience where paranormal investigators take curious visitors to the bowels of the ship on a hunt for paranormal activity.

As for what to expect during any of the three experiences, DiRoberto doesn’t want to give too much away. But he has hired more than 150 people to help put it all together, ranging from actors to “haunt managers.”

“Think about being transferred into an alternate universe where everything is really crumbling. People are scared. People in Hazmat suits are trying to contain the virus,” he explains. “Unfortunately, you will see zombies—people who have turned, who the virus has taken over and can’t be helped anymore.”

The maze-like attraction isn’t suitable for children under 12. But for the big babies out there, a “food village” will offer snacks ashore in case one-too-many frights result in hunger.

An entire haunted experience is expected to last between 30 and 40 minutes, with tickets starting at $29.99. Ghost Ship Harbor will launch on September 30 and run on select nights through Halloween.

“It’s something New England has never seen before,” says DiRoberto. “We plan to be here for the next 10 to 20 years, hopefully.”

Ghost Ship Harbor,