Nina and Pinta open for tours Christmas Day, New Year's Day

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - If you're looking for a unique experience to help entertain your Christmas company, why not head for the Biloxi schooner pier. That's where you'll find two replica ships from the days of Christopher Columbus, open for tours.

The Nina and The Pinta are floating museums. Brothers Joseph and Josemany Francois from Vancleave were impressed with these wooden vessels.

"It's awesome. Really pretty cool!" said the brother, known as "Little Joe."

"I wonder how they got the blueprint and stuff?  Like a blueprint, it's pretty awesome," added his older sibling, Josemany.

The Nina is the most historically accurate Columbus ship ever built.

Laid off from his job as a violin maker, Andrew Brittle has spent three years as a crew member, sharing some fascinating facts about the ships and the history.

"That Columbus actually made four voyages. You know, you only hear about the first. And that he in fact never made it to North America soil as we know it," said Brittle.

Cuba the Bahamas were as far north as Columbus made it.

The Baralt family made it to Biloxi from Baton Rouge.  They can't believe Columbus and his crew would cross the ocean in these boats.

"Makes you proud of our ancestors for having the courage and the skills that it took to navigate the oceans of the world," said Fernando Baralt.

"Especially the fact they were able to hand make them with very little technology," added Amy Baralt.

"I like that I actually get to see what the ships look like," said second grader, Ryan Baralt.

The Nina and The Pinta are both caravels, a type of ship favored by 15th century explorers because they were nimble and quick at sea. After 80 years, they fell out of existence in 1540 because these ships weren't large enough to carry a lot of cargo from continent to continent.

The replica ships will remain in Biloxi through New Year's Day. Then it's off to nearby Bayou LaBatre for a month of dry dock maintenance.

The ships will be open both Christmas Day and New Year's Day.  Admission prices are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and $6 for children.

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