Port of Oakland resumes free educational tours of harbor

OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) -- Years after it halted the program for budgetary reasons, the Port of Oakland on Friday resumed free public cruises to give visitors an up-close look at the nation's fourth largest Port. 

Aboard the yacht Potomac -- once President Franklin Roosevelt's floating White House -- the Port of Oakland reinstated monthly 90-minute tours of its waterside facilities.

"Good neighbors need to know each other better. And that's what we're really talking about and that's our objective," said Port of Oakland Executive Director Chris Lytle.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf was one of the city officials on-board. She said the tours would be educational for the city's students.

"Kids will often ask, 'What are those cranes? How did they get there? Where are these ships coming from? Those boxes; what's in them?'" explained the mayor.

Also in attendance for the tour were more than 200 Oakland school children from several schools.

"At our school, we do a lot of expeditionary leaning, which is basically project based learning. And we've been studying environment, we've been studying California story and Oakland history," said teacher Lara Ginsberg. "So it really amazing for these kids to see what's going on currently in Oakland and in California and to see what's going on in the local economy."

Parent Kim Walker agreed.

"I think it's wonderful for them. They get to see thing that they've never seen before. A lot of them have never even been on a boat. So this is a great experience for them and to see, you know, all the commerce and everything that happens down here," Walker said.

They were also here to see and learn about the own hometown seaport, the fourth container port in the nation.

"I think it's great, in particular for the children. I think one of the things that ought to be emphasized in their education about the port is what an economic engine it is; the job opportunities, the imports and exports from Asia," said parent Maya Dillard Smith.

There are tours on one designated Friday of every month with two tours on that day. One is at 4 p.m. in the afternoon, one at 6:30 p.m. in the evening. The tours are absolutely free and can be booked at the Port of Oakland website.