Come, ye curious first-timers and ardent explorers, passionate adventurers of any age and cruise lovers of all kinds. Skip the megaships and luxury liners in favor of up-close-and-personal experiences via small-to-large water craft. Tour popular nearby locations. Splash into water sports, or seek your solitude touring via paddleboarding and kayaking. Oceans of exciting on-the-water tours and activities to see and do in one day or less beckon.

See, Do, or Both?

Where Do You Go From Here?

Do you just want something that departs from nearby, or are you willing to drive across town and park for the day to depart from elsewhere? Do you want to see a specific city, island, preserve, national park, river, or lake? Are you willing to drive within half an hour to an hour outside town to board a tour of nearby Everglades ? How long do you want your cruise to last? Wherever your tours take you, pack your sunscreen, lip balm and bottled water because you are heading for exciting adventure and fun in the sun or shade!

What Kinds of Cruise Tours Are There? Oh, My!

Never before thought about taking a cruise? Before you browse the listing of local cruise operators included in this article, discover the kinds of cruises that are available:

Lengths of Tours

Day cruises run anywhere from one to three hours, half day, or all day. Evening cruises average two hours. Boats with parlors and cabins might sail rain or shine depending on the weather conditions. An hour or two is great for sightseeing, learning history of the area, spotting wildlife and learning about Southwest Florida’s unique environment. Longer cruises afford opportunities to explore and interact with nature hands-on perhaps shell hunting, swimming and snorkeling.

Costs

These ballpark figures are intended to help you estimate costs for the cruises you want. Pricing does not include everything unless specifically stated as an all-in-one package. Even then, there may be related expenses. “The Ticket” usually includes a mandatory port charge and sometimes a small gratuity. Usually they are non-refundable. Tours and activities may be available year-round, seasonal or on-demand. Always call cruise operators direct or visit their Web sites for current packages, pricing and availability of specific tours.

Expenses not included in the ticket price for most local tours are:

Cruise Etiquette

Dreamer, observer or doer? Trying to cram lots of different activities on land into your vacation not your style? Then a well-planned raft of local water excursions may be just the ticket you need for both an exciting and relaxing vacation in the Sunshine state’s spectacular Eastern Gulf waters.

Do you love being on the water? Like a multi-vitamin for the senses, Fort Myers offers enough exciting, affordable cruise excursions to sail a different one every day of your stay. This one-stop listing of cruises departing Fort Myers and Southwest Florida will have you cruising to your heart’s content creating once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

1. Adventures in Paradise

239-472-8442, 239-472-8236

Departs: Royal Shell Port Sanibel

Marina Destination: North Captiva

Amenities: Water, soft drinks on board, dockside dining or bring your own cooler.

Cruises: Shelling and lunch excursions, dolphin and wildlife cruises, sunset cruises

2. Banana Bay Tour Company

239-728-8687

Departs: Cape Harbor Marina in Cape Coral; Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina

Destinations: Picnic Island, San Carlos Bay, Mangrove Creek Forest, Estero Mound Key, Gulf of Mexico

Amenities: Cushioned seating, music, restrooms, coolers welcome, alcohol okay except no red wine. Shelling, sunning, swimming. Dockside dining. Guided tours led by local archaeologist. See dolphins, manatees.

Cruises: Lunch, picnic, nature and sunset sightseeing cruises and group charters. See stunning estates, luxury yachts, beaches, islands and wildlife.

3. Captiva Cruises

239-472-5300

Departs: McCarthy’s Marina and South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island

Destination: Cabbage Key, Useppa

Amenities: Live music, bar on some vessels, snacks. Small parking fee.

Cruises: Lunch and sunset

4. Eco Safari

239-482-2900, 800-472-3069

Departs: Round-trip transportation from greater Fort Myers, Sanibel, and Naples

Destinations: Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve

Amenities: Awarded the Florida Society for Ethical Ecotourism’s Gold Level Certification for Ecotour Operators.

Cruises: Half-day, full-day, or all-in-one Everglades adventure packages that include two-night accommodations and tours in Fort Myers for under $500. Everglades Day Safari, 7:15 a.m.-5:30-ish p.m., includes guided nature walk, 90-minute cruise, one-hour airboat ride, wildlife drive, and lunch. Captain Bob’s Excellent Adventure includes interactive reptile show designed with children in mind. Departs Fort Myers 8:15 a.m., returns 1:30-ish p.m.

5. Estero Bay Express Dolphin Tours

239-463-3600

Departs: Fish Tale Marina on south part of Fort Myers Beach

Destination: Estero Bay

Amenities: Coolers welcome or dine in marina restaurants before or after tour.

Cruises: Dolphin tours aboard 40-foot catamaran departing 10 a.m., noon and sunset.

6. Fort Myers Boat Tour and 7. Slidey Cat Boat Tours and Rentals

414-305-5759, 239-220-1711

Departs: Salty Sams Marina, Parrot Key

Destinations: Sanibel, Captiva, Lovers Key State Park, Cabbage Key, Estero Island, Ussepa Island, Fort Myers Beach/Back Bay, Caper Coral

Amenities: Accommodates 4-6 people. Sundeck, lounge area, lower cabin, restroom. Coolers welcome. Caters special occasions and corporate entertaining.

Cruises: Private 1 1/2 to six-hour luxury cruises aboard 40 foot yacht. Shelling, gondola and beach tours. 15+ restaurant destination cruises. Day cruises and island cruises start 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Two-hour sunset cruise.

8. Fort Myers Princess

239-765-8500

Departs: Snug Harbor Marina

Destination: Gulf of Mexico

Amenities: Full bar, light snacks. Dockside dining.

Cruises: 75-foot double decker. Party cruises, dolphin tours, special events, sunset cruise. Sunday Brunch and holiday-themed dinner cruises November-April.

9. JC Boat Cruises

239-334-7474

Departs: Downtown Fort Myers

Destinations: Caloosahatchee River; Intracoastal Waterway, Cape Coral, Shell Point Village, Punta Rassa, Gulf of Mexico; Through the Franklin Locks into Lake Okeechobee; Intracoastal Waterway through two locks to Moor Haven

Amenities: Climate-controlled salons, open upper deck, all-you-can-eat-buffet, cash bar, music, dancing. Very affordable. Sing-alongs, sunbathing, plant and marine animals. Reservations required. 10-hour meter parking free on weekends and after 5 p.m. weekdays. Smoking permitted on outside decks.

Cruises: Sail aboard 600-passenger, triple-deck paddlewheeler! Three or four-hour, half-day and full day lunch and dinner excursions, weekend dinner and dancing, holiday luncheons. Historical sites, homes, wildlife, dolphins, manatees.

10. Naples Princess

239-649-2275

Departs: Port of Naples Marina

Destination: Naples Bay, Port Royal into the Gulf of Mexico

Amenities: Outdoor seating, air-conditioned indoor salons, special seating available. Full-service bars, freshly prepared meals. Accepts reservations. Advance purchase ticket group discounts. Event Planners available.

Cruises: New, tri-level, 105-foot luxury yacht. Public and private sightseeing, lunch and dinner cruises, themed excursions.

11. Pieces of Eight Pirate Cruise

239-765-7272

Departs: Salty Sam’s Marina

Destination: Fort Myers Waterways

Amenities: Full bar, snack food. Dockside dining. Dress in costume if you like!

Cruises: Departures 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. for family-friendly, swashbuckling excitement aboard a 65-foot Spanish Galleon. 90-minute adult cruise on Friday nights.

12. Sanibel Harbor Princess Yacht

239-466-4000

Departs: Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort and Spa

Destination: San Carlos Bay Amenities: Outdoor observation deck, indoor air-conditioned salons, hot buffet. Reservations required. On-site parking available for fee.

Cruises: Two-hour cruises, dolphin excursions, traditional dinner cruises, Sunday brunch aboard 100-foot private luxury yacht.