NEWBURYPORT — Throughout much of the weekend, the boardwalk near the Nao Santa Maria was as crowded as the steep, narrow gangway leading up to the 200-ton replica of the famed Christopher Columbus sailing vessel.

Docking under a cloak of darkness Friday night, Saturday and Sunday were the first opportunities for people across the region to climb aboard the tall ship. The Nao Santa Maria will be moored at Waterfront Park for another week — its visit arranged by the Custom House Maritime Museum. 

Nao Santa Maria project manager Angel Rosa said the large number of visitors and the warm welcome from the community were overwhelming. 

“We’re grateful to be here,” Rosa said. 

Among those touring the vessel Sunday afternoon were Andy, Sarah and Olivia Brown of West Newbury. 

“It’s cool, very cool — much more angly than I thought,” Andy said. “People must have been a lot shorter in those days.” 

“It looks like Moana’s boat,” 2-year-old Olivia said, referring to the title character in the 2016 animated Disney film. 

Asked if they felt like they were getting a chance to go back in time, Andy said absolutely. 

“I think it’s better to see a replica, you get a better sense of how it really was,” he said. 

Wearing a period-accurate doublet — a form-fitting shirt often worn underneath armor — and hat, Timothy Hills of Wenham agreed. 

As a history re-enactor, Hills said floating re-creations such as the Nao Santa Maria make for a better historical experience. 

Hills was a popular man during his brief time on the ship with his partner, Beverly Hills, as many people asked him to pose for photos.

“I like it, it’s so cool,” Hills said. 

Also enjoying the boat, but perhaps not at the top of the elevated stern, was 9-year-old Evie Tague of Newburyport.

“Yeah, I don’t like being so high, but it’s cool,” Evie said. 

She was standing next to her 11-year-old brother, Thijs, who said his favorite parts of the ship were beneath the deck.

“I gotta say, the downstairs is pretty cool,” he said. 

As it turned out, Evie was up there at the request of her mother, Alicia Tague, who wanted to capture the moment on her mobile phone. 

“I don’t like it,” Evie shouted, as her mother tried to find the perfect angle for her photo. 

Tour ticket prices are $10 per adult and $5 for children over 5. A special family ticket is also available for a family of four at $25.

Staff Writer Dave Rogers can be reached by email at drogers@newburyportnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at: @drogers41008.