The Iconic Kalmar Nyckel


The Kalmar Nyckel is a sailing piece of history – 1600’s history to be exact. Built by the Dutch and sold to the Swedish, the original vessel was once called the “Mayflower of the Delaware Valley.” The ship sailed from Gothenburg, Sweden in 1637, and its travelers established their first settlement on the site of what is now Wilmington, Delaware. The Kalmar Nyckel was eventually sold to Dutch merchants and sunk off the coast of Scotland in 1652.

To commemorate the voyages of the original vessel, a replica of the ship was launched in Wilmington, DE in 1997. This recreation of the Kalmar Nyckel took about a decade to complete before it set sail on the Christina River. Today, the Kalmar Nyckel offers a once in a lifetime experience to visitors as they are able to climb aboard and soak in the history for themselves. The Kalmar Nyckel Foundation is a nonprofit organization that gives visitors along the east coast a unique glance at history. The current model is operated by a volunteer staff who are passionate about educating the public about the history maritime and colonial life.


The Kalmar Nyckel has plenty of educational opportunities for visitors of all ages! They offer field trips for classrooms to explore the majesty of the vessel with interactive information stations. Guests are encouraged to dress up in sailor and pirate gear similar to the crews! In Lewes, they offer deck tours where crew members will transport you back to 1638. Kids can even ring the ship’s bell!


Interested in joining the crew? There are 300 volunteers that help support the Kalmar Nyckel annually that come from diverse backgrounds and experiences. They offer training classes all year long in Wilmington, DE for those willing to volunteer. While this training requires some time commitment, it is absolutely worth the experience.

The Kalmar Nyckel will dock at our Lewes Terminal from August 13th – September 5th. And, BOY, are we excited! Tours and sails will be available. Booking is through the Kalmar Nyckel website. Even if you’re not going for a sail, the sight is absolutely something to behold.Stop by and grab a bite to eat or drink at our dockside grill, On The Rocks – Lewes (ranked #1 Waterfront Eatery in the 2016 Best of Delaware Competition) and marvel in this piece of history. 

 If you’re traveling from the New Jersey area be sure to book your Cape May-Lewes Ferry tickets in advance! 

Keep up with the Kalmar Nyckel on their website: 


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