What are your rates?
Effective March 1, 2018: $29 for adults, $15.50 for children ages 4-14, $25 for seniors 60 and older, $1 children 3 and under. (We do offer a $2 discount on all adult fares with coupon code online or coupon at time of purchase.)
Do we need to make reservations?
Reservations are recommended since we are Destin’s Original and our boat books up frequently, especially during the busy summer months. We suggest booking 48 hours in advance to ensure the cruise time of your choice.
Why is your cruise more expensive?
We are Destin’s Original, family owned and operated for 20 years. Our boat is the largest and most comfortable boat in Destin Harbor, and you will find that the standard of service we provide is well worth the extra little bit you spend.
What do you do on the cruise?
We begin with a narrated tour of the Destin Harbor, and the captain will point out some of Destin’s local spots, and tell about the history of the area. We then head out to the East Pass of the Gulf of Mexico, if seas are calm enough, we cruise into the Gulf to watch the dolphin in their natural habitat. If the Gulf waters are too choppy to comfortably cruise in the Gulf, we cruise under Destin’s Marler Bridge into the Choctawhatchee Bay in search of the local dolphin pods. Once we spot the dolphins, we spend time watching, observing, and encouraging the dolphins, as well as educating you about the area pods. The Captain also takes time to let the kids aboard have their turn to drive the boat and earn their Junior Captain Award, and the mates will assist guests in feeding the seagulls from the back of the boat.
What can you see through the glass bottom?
The glass bottom is an added feature of our dolphin cruises, since we do not have any reef in this area. We sail out into the Gulf of Mexico and the sandy bottom of is not the same as you might find in tropical areas. The glass bottom on our boat is a viewing area with 8 glass panels, and not a floor completely made of glass with seating around it. Sometimes we do see schools of fish or beds of seagrass, but the dolphins are the main feature and they play on the sides of the boat rather than underneath.
When is the best time to see dolphins?
Any time is a great time. We have a 98% success rate with dolphin sightings, so the best time to go is really up to your personal preference and schedule. The water is typically clearer during high tide (before about 2:00, in peak season) and that is when we have the greatest chance of seeing the other sea life such as sharks, stingrays, turtles, etc. We still see dolphins and other varieties of sea life on our afternoon cruises as well, but once the tide changes, the for the dolphins to breach the surface.
Are we guaranteed to see dolphins? Do you always see dolphins?
We do not guarantee it because they are wild animals that we are observing in their natural setting, and they are very unpredictable. However, they are native to the area and we have a 98% success rate with seeing them year-round.
How big is the boat?
The Southern Star is an 80-foot double deck, glass-bottom boat and is U.S. Coast Guard Approved for a maximum of 149 passengers. We have 2 rest rooms, a covered upper deck with drop-down enclosure, and a climate controlled cabin for your comfort.
Are strollers allowed?
Yes. Children age 3 and younger do ride for just $1, but are required to be included in the reservation for our total head count reported to Coast Guard.
Are you handicapped accessible?
Yes, to manual wheelchairs only. Scooters and motorized wheelchairs are too large and too heavy to accommodate on our vessel.
Is there food?
We have a galley that serves snack items such as hot dogs, chips, sodas, smoothies, and other small snack items.
Do you serve drinks?
We are a family friendly cruise, and we serve sodas and smoothies, but no alcohol. You may bring alcoholic beverages but only in moderation because it is a family cruise. We do not allow coolers or glass containers.
Where is the best place to sit?
Any place is a great place. Feel free to walk around once the boat leaves the dock.
Do you offer a Military Discount?
If you purchase your tickets at one of the ITT Centers on Eglin or Hurlburt Air Force Base, they will honor the discount for the entire party. Because we are contracted with them, we are only able to honor the discount for the Active Duty Personnel at the window. (Military Discount is the same as the Premium Discount)
How far offshore do you go? Do people ever get seasick?
We do not go far enough offshore that you lose sight of land, and if the Gulf is too rough, the captain will cruise in the Bay where it is calmer. If you tend to get motion sickness riding in the backseat of a car, we suggest you take something. We sell MotionEaze, which is natural oil that can be rubbed behind the ears to alleviate the symptoms of motion sickness. It is fast acting and has no side effects, so the crew highly recommends it. If you do get nauseated, notify the crew and they will know what to do for you.
Do the kids need life jackets?
There are life jackets for the kids on board, but they are only used in the event of an emergency. The rails are 42” high, but if it would make you more comfortable to have them wear one, we can provide one.
What if it rains?
If there is just a light rain, we still sail because there is plenty of cover. If there is thunder or lightning, we will not sail. If we have to cancel due to weather we will notify you, but we make those decisions closer to cruise time and on a cruise by cruise basis.
Why do you need a Credit Card?
We use it to hold your seats; nothing is charged when you book over the phone. You may pay however you like when you arrive. If you need to cancel, we require 3 hours’ notice; otherwise, we do charge your card for 50% of the total. Online bookings are charged at the time of reservation.
Where are you located?
We are located in the HarborWalk Village Marina, ¼ mile East of Destin Bridge. We are in a red ticket booth located downstairs to the left of Margaritaville
Can we bring pets on the boat?
The only pets allowed on the boat are service animals.
What should we bring?
Customers are recommended to bring sunscreen, cash (tips for mates and snacks), and a camera. During Spring and Fall months, you may want to bring jackets for your family, as the sunset cruises tend to be cooler in temperature.
What payments do you accept?
We accept Visa, Discover, and MasterCard as well as cash. We do not accept American Express. Checks are not accepted, except for those pre-arranged by large parties.
Is parking free?
Yes. Free public parking is available at HarborWalk Village, in Emerald Grande parking garage, or across Highway 98 at Destin Community Center and next to Whataburger.
When should we arrive for the cruise?
We suggest arriving one-hour prior to the cruise time to allow for parking and picking up your tickets. We will begin boarding 30-minutes prior to the cruise.
Is there a charge for parking?
Effective June 15, 2018, HarborWalk Village charges $10 per vehicle to park in the on-site parking lot and parking garage. Cash or cards are accepted. Alternative parking options include the city of Destin’s two “pay to park” public parking lots at the intersections of Hwy 98 and Marler Street, or Calhoun Avenue and Zerbe Street. Street parking is available on the north side of 98.