The Calusa Queen departs Burnt Store Marina 45 minutes before sunset each evening, where we head west through the channel to Charlotte Harbor. To the north we pass Cape Haze, Gallagher Keys and Little Cape Haze. To the south is Pine Island and the village of Bokeelia.
The Captain will position the Queen so that guests will view the sunset through Boca Grande Channel. It happens everyday, but the disappearance of the sun as its sets beyond the Gulf of Mexico is truly a blessing for all of us here in southwest Florida!
On this 1.25 hour cruise, guests will have the chance to do the following:
- Take spectacular sunset photos.
- Relax as the sun drops down to the horizon.
- Consider astronomy from the perspective of southwest Florida.
- Be on the lookout for pods of Atlantic Bottle Nose Dolphin that make Charlotte Harbor their home.
Enjoy moving about the boat throughout the cruise. The captain and crew will provide narration and answer any questions you may have along the way, so relax and enjoy the ride!
What Is Not Included?
- Food and beverages are not included in the price of your ticket.
- Transportation to and from the boat is also not included.
- Do I have to purchase tickets in advance?
- Advance purchase is strongly recommended as our trips sell out. To maximize your chances of getting the day and time you prefer, book well in advance. Tickets can only be purchased in advance with a Visa, MasterCard or American Express.
- Is there an age limit?
- No, there are no restrictions and guests of any age are welcome to join us on board the Calusa Queen. Please note, however, that all guests must have a ticket regardless of age as our passenger capacity is limited by safety and comfort considerations, as well as by the US Coast Guard.
- What type of ticket should I buy if I'm bringing a very young child?
- Every guest, regardless of age, needs a ticket. We offer reduced-price Child tickets for children ages 3 through 16. Children ages 2 and under are welcome to attend for free but must have a free "Lap Pass."
- What happens if it rains?
- Your captain and crew watch the weather forecasts and conditions closely to ensure that your trip is safe, enjoyable, and memorable. In the event that current or predicted conditions require us to cancel, we will contact you as soon as possible so you can join us at another date/time. When purchasing your tickets, be sure to provide a good local contact number or cell phone number where you can be reached.
- What wildlife do we see on the trip?
- Charlotte Harbor provides a habitat for a wide variety of fish including tarpon, redfish and snook. It is also home to marine mammals including dolphin and manatee although it would be unusual to see manatee on a cruise such as this. We often encounter a wide variety of coastal birds including wood storks, great white egrets, roseate spoonbills, snowy egrets, tri-colored herons, black-crowned night herons, ibis, pelicans and osprey.
- How close can we get to the dolphins?
- While we never chase the dolphins, we will move to within a respectable distance. Often, though, they will spot us and come right up to the boat. They especially enjoy playing and frolicking in the wake created by the hulls and the engines. We strictly adhere to all regulations and will not contact, feed, touch or harass the dolphins.
- Do we see mothers and babies?
- Sometimes. Male dolphins are often observed alone, while pods of dolphins are usually females and young. Manatees are generally seen in small groups of 3 or 4, including adults and young. In the nesting season, the rookeries are packed with adult birds and their chicks.
- Can we see wildlife on the islands from the boat?
- Yes we can! We recommend that you bring binoculars for ease of viewing.
- Do we get off the boat?
- No. During this tour we will stop the boat in the water at sunset, but we view all the wildlife from the boat and do not get off.
- Are food or drinks served on the trip?
- Food and drinks are not included with your trip, but we sell water, lemonade, and iced tea on the boat if you'd like to purchase a drink during your trip. Please note that we can only accept cash on board. Guests are also welcome to bring a small cooler, or pick up something to eat at the deli located at the marina. Please note that beer and wine are permitted, but we ask as a courtesy to other passengers that guests consume alcohol in moderation on public cruises.
- Can I bring a cooler, picnic basket or other large items?
- You can bring a small cooler or picnic basket that you can keep in your seating area. However, due to weight restrictions we cannot stow large items on board.
- What should I wear?
- Dress seasonally according to the weather conditions. Please note that the sun is much stronger on the water. We always recommend sunglasses and sunscreen. On sunset cruises the sun is low, so you may not be in the shade of the roof of the boat. You'll want to wear soft soled rubber bottom shoes or sandals on the boat. It is always cooler on the water, especially after sunset, so you may want to have a jacket, sweatshirt or fleece with you.
- Is there any shade on the boat?
- Yes. The Calusa Queen has a roof that provides shade and rain protection for all passengers. However, on sunset cruises the sun is low and you may not be in the shade of the roof at all times.
- Is the boat handicap accessible?
- Boats are not typically handicap accessible, however, we have been able to accommodate almost all passengers in wheelchairs. We recommend that you arrive early so that the crew will have time to assist you. Please note that some water levels prohibit us from being able to bring a wheelchair aboard safely and there are weight restrictions that may limit the type of equipment that we can bring on board. Also keep in mind that the restroom is not wheelchair accessible. If you have any concerns about accessibility, please click on the "Contact CalusaQueen" link to discuss before purchasing your tickets.
- Is the cruise suitable for pregnant women?
- We travel in fairly calm waters, so there are no restrictions against pregnant women attending.
- Is there a bathroom on board?
- Yes, there is one head (bathroom) on board. It serves both men and women. Unfortunately the head is not wheelchair accessible.
- Will I get wet?
- If it rains or if it's a windy day you may get some occasional spray from the river, but generally guests won't get wet on this cruise.
- Is the boat safe? Are there life jackets?
- The Calusa Queen is a 30 passenger US Coast Guard inspected and certified vessel. It is a large pontoon boat with a flat deck and is extra stable. Comfortable cushioned bench seating is provided, and railings are fitted all around. There are life jackets available for all passengers, including infant life jackets, though guests are not required to wear them during the cruise.
- Will I get seasick?
- Our passengers usually find the Calusa Queen to be a very stable vessel. However, we advise that you consult with your doctor about preventative measures beforehand if you are prone to motion sickness.
- Is smoking allowed?
- Smoking is prohibited on board our vessel due to US Coast Guard regulations.
- Are pets allowed to come?
- Small well-behaved dogs are permitted to join us on the cruise, but please notify us in advance. When purchasing your tickets, please include a "Message to the Seller" letting us know if you are bringing a pet with you.
- Is there parking available?
- Yes, there is ample free parking available at the marina.
- Is gratuity included in the ticket price?
- Gratuities for your Calusa Queen crew are not included in your ticket price. If you have a great time and wish to recognize the contributions of the crew, you are welcome to give any one of them a tip to be shared by all. We are occasionally asked what a good tip is and while it is entirely up to you, 15% of the ticket price is common. Please note that the captain and crew donate 10% of all tips to an organization that supports servicemen wounded in combat, a worthy charity we wish to support.
- Are gift certificates available?
- Gift certificates are not available at this time, but we plan to make them available soon.
- Can I book a private trip or charter?
- Yes! We offer private trips that are perfect for both personal and corporate events. We can accommodate a variety of special requests. Please click on the "Contact CalusaQueen" link to inquire further about your options.
- Non-refundable, cannot be rescheduled.
- Once purchased, tickets cannot be refunded and cannot be rescheduled because your space is being guaranteed at the event.
- Activity may be cancelled due to severe weather.
- The activity usually runs in light rain and other moderate weather conditions, but the seller may cancel the activity up to an hour before the start time in the event of severe or unsafe weather conditions. If the seller cancels the event, ticket-holders will be allowed to reschedule tickets (subject to availability) or receive credit for a future event.
- All participants are required to have tickets for this event.
- Our boat is United States Coast Guard documented for a certain amount of passengers and we cannot exceed the capacity. This means that all passengers including infants and toddlers must have a ticket.
Captain Will Olds is a US Coast Guard Master Mariner who has driven charter boats on Lake Superior and taught safe boating for the Chapman School of Seamanship. He is also a historian and naturalist, and has given hundreds of tours of the Peace River. His combination of skills come together to offer passengers narrated tours of Charlotte Harbor that are always enjoyable and informative.
After running nature tours exclusively on the Peace River, Captain Will wanted to show guests some of the other amazing things to see in Charlotte Harbor and is now offering a number of different tours. Join him as the Calusa Queen leaves from Burnt Store Marina to explore Matlacha, Pineland, Jug Creek, Cape Haze and even up the Peace River.
You will always have fun on the water, whether its viewing the wildlife and the marine environment in a new way or learning some history about the natives, explorers, and settlers of southwest Florida. Or if evening fun is more your style, feel free to take a relaxing sunset cruise aboard the Calusa Queen. It's one of the best ways to spend an evening on the Gulf Coast!