Jim Abbott on Florida Travel
Postcards from Florida
August 27, 2011
There's plenty of pirate lore connected with Amelia Island, where the port at Fernandina Beach once was a safe harbor for buccaneer galleons.
The pirates are gone, but the port is still a hub of activity. Amelia River Cruises offers daily narrated historic and wildlife sightseeing tours through the waters of northeast Florida and southeast Georgia. Tours depart from Fernandina Harbor Marina in downtown Fernandina Beach four times daily (March-August) and three times daily (September-February).
There are additional public tours available and the company's fleet, which includes two 49-passenger vessels and a third equipped to handle 80 guests, also is available for private charters.
Recently, the company expanded its daily tour schedule to include eco-tours and BYOB twilight/sunset cruises.
The three-hour eco-tour features narration by a marine biologist, who helps point out the array of birds and other Florida critters and explains the "catch" hauled aboard on an otter trawl or shrimp net. After passengers view the wildlife, the catch is released back into the ocean. There's less science involved in the BYOB cruise, where passengers can sip the beverage of their choice, listen to live music and watch the landscape and sunset, which also qualifies as one of the area's natural wonders.
Through Friday, the eco-tours run from 9 a.m. to noon. From Sept. 10 through Thanksgiving weekend, the tours operate from 10 a.m.-noon and 1:30-3:30 p.m. Saturdays. The twilight cruise runs from 7-9 p.m. seven nights a week through Labor Day, then Friday and Saturdays from Labor Day through Thanksgiving.
Eco-tours cost $25 per person (plus tax) for adults; $15 per person plus sales tax for age 12 and under. Twilight cruises cost $29 per person (plus tax) and include two drink specials that can be redeemed at downtown Fernandina bars on the night of the cruise.
Food and beverage are allowed aboard both cruises and people-friendly pets are also welcome.
For more, call 904-321-7372 or visit ameliarivercruises.com.
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