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“Tainted memory - issues w/crew”

Dolphin Snorkeling Cruise
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Egmont Key Island Snorkeling Adventure and Dolphin Cruise
Ranked #1 of 10 Tours in Gulfport
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Owner description: Day trip to Egmont Key, off St. Petersburg, Florida. Watch dolphins jump and play in the surf behind our mono-hull boat. They jump, twist, & spin so close you can almost touch them! Our boat stays with you the entire 2 1/2 hour stay on the island. Explore this tropical island with its abundant wildlife and ruins of a Spanish-American War fort. Snorkel gear is provided for those wishing to snorkel the sunken ruins. Reservations recommended by calling.
Reviewed February 6, 2014

We entered what looked like a souvenir shop at John's Pass and were confronted by a man selling tickets for various water activities. As it turns out, we had walked into "John's Pass Ticket Booth" and were reeled in to plunk down a deposit on this "cruise". The vendor assured us that, even though this boat tour might be a bit more expensive than others we had picked the best Egmont Key boat tour because (allegedly) unlike other cruises, the boat would stay right there at the island while we snorkeled, so we could easily (?! ...hmm... see photos) get back aboard if we needed to use the restroom or access our lunch coolers, etc. The brochure also mentioned provision of a free shelling bag (I pictured a mesh keepsake bag, perhaps) and snorkeling equipment. Sounds good, but...

We scheduled the trip for the next day and had a rather lengthy drive from John's Pass to reach the actual departure marina in Gulfport. The boat looked like an old fishing vessel with 18 uncomfortable seats up front, a bench at the back, and a storage bin on which many of us sat for much of the trip. Other passengers filed to the back of the boat and began drinking beer. The crew welcomed us with some flippant comments about the life preservers (we weren't offered one) and the availability of "the head" (bathroom below deck). He then turned on some hokey Jimmy Buffett music and away we went. Beyond that, there was little to no narration about where we were or what we were seeing as we passed along the shoreline. We saw no dolphins on the ride out to the island, but were assured we would see some later. . .

Upon arrival at Egmont Key we stopped NEAR a govt dock, but instead dropped anchor several feet from shore and had to climb down a ladder to get to the thigh-deep water below. At that point, we were offered a "shelling bag" (standard crumpled plastic grocery bag) and a dirty mask and snorkel mouthpiece. (I was instantly no longer interested in snorkeling and placed the dirty equipment in the used grocery bag that dangled on my arm while I climbed down the ladder.)

Once on the island (nice, but not as good as we were led to believe), we walked around the ruins and did find several small-med shells, but no sand dollars.

After a couple of hours in the hot sun, we were ready to go back. Before I ascended the ladder, the ship's mate asked me if I'd snorkeled. "Nope," I told him, planning to hand back the equipment when I reached the storage bin at the top of the ladder. He then proceeded to grab my shelling bag and took out the unused snorkel gear, perhaps insinuating that I was attempting to conceal it, and grumbling that it looked damaged (if so, certainly not by me!).

The return trip began with the obligatory Jimmy Buffett music. Again, no dolphins for quite a while. Then, I noticed that the captain had left the helm of the boat and was off to the side feeding the seagulls. Soon enough, dolphins! (but shouldn't someone be steering this boat???).

To be fair, we really enjoyed seeing the (promised) dolphins swim along side the boat. Still, this was overshadowed by the disappointments (past and yet to come) re: the boat and its crew.

So, now that they've "given" us the dolphins, as promised... time to pay up! We were advised to tip well because they delivered on the dolphins promise. They handed each of us a plastic pouch and practically demanded a tip (signs stressed "only if served well"). I did not feel the need to bring lots of extra cash to this deserted island, nor did I feel we were "served well"; thus, the tip was much smaller than the 15-20% requested. Once the envelopes were collected, it was clear that they were counting the tips and made snide remarks toward anyone who dared not give the requested amount. (I can echo here most of the related comments from reviewer askew16.)

Sign on board : "tipping is appreciated; mate works for tips, but only if served well" - really??

The rest of the trip was awkward and certainly did not live up to the title of "cruise".
So, while the island was ok, and we enjoyed the dolphin sightings (literally, we thank God),
the ship's crew made the overall trip a tainted memory.

-tbt rfg

8  Thank btdt9192
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cheryl F, Manager at Dolphin Snorkeling Cruise, responded to this reviewResponded February 11, 2014

Dear btdt9192, We are sorry you did not enjoy your day. Perhaps there was something that started your day wrong. As you can see here, most of our guests LOVE our cruise and their experience at Egmont Key. Please know that sand dollars are usually in the water, just under the surface of the sand. Did you look there? We are glad you were able to see dolphins. Hopefully next time you visit you will have a better experience...as the majority of our guests do.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviews (184)
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144 - 148 of 184 reviews

Reviewed December 5, 2013

Last week, my finance and I went on the Tropic Island Getaway with Captain Randy and Eric. The highlight of the trip was the "Dolphin Show". The crew did a great job finding dolphins in the bay on both the 30 minute trip out to Egmont Key, as well as on the way back. They explained that the dolphins put on a show for the members of their boat because it is a single-wake boat, which the dolphins like to play around with. They explained that the dolphins do not do this with other boats or ferry's going to Egmont Key Island. If this is true, then it's worth the $35 per person for the trip alone IMO!

Once reaching Egmont Key Island, you are given 2 hours to explore the island, snorkel or shell.
The island has a lighthouse, as well as some old fort ruins. Both were very cool. The captain explained that because of high winds the water was murky and very cold for snorkeling, so we skipped it. My girlfriend was a little disappointed with the quality of shells on the island, as my guess is that they are a little picked over by other tourists.

Overall, the island is very cool and the dolphin experience was awesome! I highly recommend you go if you are in the area but make sure to target a warm sunny day with winds less than 12 mph.

Bring your video camera or use the video camera on your phone. Check out the stills I exported from the video I took on my Iphone 4s!

Thank Craig M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 4, 2013 via mobile

What a fun day. The dolphins stole the show. We seen many going out and back. So much fun to watch. We had fun on the island. It was very interesting. The water was to chilly to snorkel. I would recommend doing this. Worth the money.

Thank Kscholl1965
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 7, 2013 via mobile

I loved this trip. The water was choppy on the day of our actual reservation, and the capt kept in constant contact to make sure we took our trip. There were dolphins right at the edge of the boat as we slowly made our way out to the island. Pack a lunch and drinks ;) to go out and spend the afternoon. They have gear to snorkel and youre encouraged to explore the whole island. The turtles are awesome too! There's a fort for history lovers and nice beaches for strolls.

Thank Sunrize119
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 16, 2013

I did this yesterday with my friend. We had a great time and would definitely do it again. The captain and mate were very friendly and knowledgeable. Bring extra money for the port fee and tip. It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon.

Thank Angela G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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