When planning your vacation to the Emerald Coast, we hope that you will make the most of your time here and take advantage of all the family fun activities that Destin has to offer. One must-do while visiting our area is a Dolphin Cruise aboard the Southern Star. We are Destin’s Original Dolphin Cruise and have been serving Destin for 19 years. Our cruise has been featured on CNN and National Geographic, so you are sure to experience something extraordinary and learn about the dolphins native to our area. We are often asked for information regarding our cruises and we hope that the answers to the questions below will help you in planning your time here on the Emerald Coast.
What is the best cruise time? We cruise at 9:00, 12:00, 3:00, and 6:00 Monday-Friday, and 12:00, 3:00 and 6:00 on Saturday. The best time to go is whatever is best for your party. Our cruises last approximately 2 hours, so please make sure to allow plenty of time in your schedule. We offer 4 cruise per day during June, July and early August. The 9:00 cruise is during high tide and the water is very clear and a beautiful emerald green color that is shown in most pictures of our area…This is the reason we are called “The Emerald Coast”. Because the water is so clear during high tide, we can see the dolphin as they swim up to the boat rather than waiting for them to breach the surface. Our 12:00 cruise is also highly desirable because high tide occurs before 3:00pm on most days during the Summer months. Many families with small children tend to prefer the 12:00 cruise because it won’t interfere with the little ones’ nap times. We serve 1/4 lb hot dogs on board, as well as chips, sodas, smoothies and other various snack items, which makes a perfect afternoon light lunch. The 3:00 cruise is often preferred by families who like to eat an earlier dinner because it doesn’t make for such a late evening for the kids. Later in the afternoon, the sun isn’t as strong, and in the early evening and there is a gentle breeze out on the water, which creates a nice and relaxing atmosphere for everyone to kick back and enjoy. Beach-goers tend to enjoy this cruise as it allows ample time at the beach during the morning and early afternoon. The 6:00 cruise is our most popular cruise and books up quickly. The glorious sunset on the water is a perfect way to wind down and end a day on vacation. If you intend to cruise at 6:00pm, we highly recommend calling for reservations at least 48 hours in advance.
When are the dolphins most active? The dolphins are native to our area and are active all throughout the day and they can be observed during every cruise. The number of dolphins and activity we see varies on each cruise, but we have a 98% success rate with dolphin sightings. We typically see them on every cruise.
What will we see through the glass-bottom? Please be advised that the glass-bottom is not the main feature of our cruises. The the viewing area on our boat consists of eight glass panels, unlike that which you will find in the Caribbean, as we sail into the Gulf of Mexico and there are no reef in the area. If we cruise into the Choctawhatchee Bay, various marine life can be observed through the glass panels in our viewing area. Because of the water clarity on our earlier cruises at 9:00am and 12:00pm, we occasionally see schools of bait fish as well as grass beds, and sometimes even sea turtles or stingrays. The dolphins are the main feature of our cruises and can be observed top-side on each of our cruises.
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What do you do in the event of bad weather? If the Gulf is rough, we will cruise into protected waters in the Choctawhatchee Bay. In the event of rain, we can still cruise. If there is thunder, lightning, heavy rain and high winds, then we will cancel the cruise and notify everyone with reservations to reschedule.
Do we need reservations? We highly recommend reservations as we are Destin’s Original Dolphin Cruise and we do book up, especially at 9:00am and 6:00pm.
How far in advance do we need to reserve? We take reservations online up to 2 weeks in advance. We normally suggest making reservations upon your arrival into the area, that way you can pick the date and time that works best for your family’s schedule. 48 hours notice is recommended in order to book the cruise time of your choice.
Do we need to arrive early? We ask guests to arrive 45 minutes ahead of departure time. Allow plenty of time for traffic and parking because during the evening time frame, traffic is heavy. Our suggestion is to come early and enjoy the events, activities, shops, and even dine at a restaurant here at HarborWalk Village.
We hope you will find these planning tips useful and use them to make the most of your planning. We look forward to seeing you aboard the Southern Star!