Captain Chris McConnell
Picture & Bio Coming Soon
Captain Steve Wilson
Captain Steve Wilson was raised on the Mississippi Gulf Coast with a lifelong passion for the sea and adventure. He graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi and completed studies toward a Master’s of Business Administration with emphasis in International Marketing at the London School of Economics. At the age of 25, he earned his Captain’s License, and later went on to pursue his Ocean Master’s License. With over 20 years of sea service, he has sailed more than 300,000 sea miles, captaining ocean tugs, government vessels, and specialty ships. Before creating Destin’s Original Dolphin Cruise, Captain Steve had spent a career sailing coastwise and deep sea in all weather conditions from ice in extreme latitudes to hurricanes in the Gulf and Caribbean. Now, the father of 3 says he is a fair weather sailor.
Captain Steve and his wife, Wendy relocated from Ocean Springs, Mississippi to Destin, Florida in 1994, where they pioneered Destin’s first dolphin cruise to fulfill the area’s need for high-value family entertainment at a low cost. The Southern Star began as a 75-passenger wooden boat, and over the next 8 years the Wilsons’ business grew and flourished, creating the need for a larger boat. Captain Steve designed and built the 150-passenger, glass bottom boat that we know today as the Southern Star. Over the past 18 years, the Southern Star Dolphin Cruise has taken vacationing families on scenic tours of our beautiful Emerald Coast to witness something extraordinary. More than 8,000 dolphin sightings have been experienced by guests of all ages. Come Expect a Miracle aboard Southern Star!
Captain Cliff Atwell
Captain Cliff Atwell is a native of the Destin area, and began working on fishing boats at the age of 9. He obtained his Captain’s License when he was 18, and began captaining fishing boats here in Destin, and during the winter, Captain Cliff worked in the oil field in Louisiana. As a fisherman, Captain Cliff became fascinated with the dolphins that inhabit the Choctawhatchee Bay area. He observed them offshore while fishing and became very interested in their habits and behaviors, and most importantly the dynamics of their pods, or families.
In 1996, Captain Steve Wilson presented Captain Cliff with the prospect of developing his interest in the dolphin while utilizing his experience as a captain and widespread knowledge of the area. Captain Cliff seized the opportunity, and began captaining Destin’s Original Dolphin Cruise part time in the evenings. Now that he is able to observe dolphins in closely in their natural habitat, Captain Cliff has a vast amount of familiarity about the amazing mammals that we witness aboard the Southern Star on a daily basis.
Due to his background and experience as a fisherman, is breadth of knowledge extends beyond the dolphins to other sea life and wildlife of our Gulf Coast area. Most importantly, Captain Cliff has a passion for the Emerald Coast. Having grown up in the town, he has seen the changes that Destin has undergone throughout the years. He has an extensive understanding of Destin’s history and what comprises the heart of our beautiful city. Captain Cliff’s narration of Destin Harbor is one of a kind, and you are sure to gain a further insight into this incredible species as he shares with you his information about the dolphins.