An afternoon on the high seas … I mean … Intracoastal Waterways
In the middle of a midweek getaway to Fort Lauderdale, we went looking for a fun activity to do with the kids – and found a riverboat waiting for us. The Jungle Queen riverboat cruise (along with its sister ship, the River Queen) takes passengers on four sailings a day. Two of these cruises are shorter, and take you around just the intracoastal waterways where you’ll pass and admire some of the biggest homes you’ve ever seen (and most expensive ; most of them cost over $10,000,000, which will also buy you a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan). One is a cruise around the intracoastal waterways, and then to the company’s private island for dinner and a show. And then there’s the one that we went on – which takes you to the private island where you can see exotic animals and an alligator show.
The sail up the intracoastal waterways, which takes 40 minutes to an hour if you are heading to the island, is interesting. The woman who narrated the sail knows a lot about the homes: how much they cost, who owns them, and information on the architecture. She also told us about the history of the city along the waterfront. However, there was little or no talk of the history of the area outside of the homes along the waterway, and when we were stuck waiting for a drawbridge to go up, she had nothing to say at all.
If you’ve never seen an alligator show, the premise is simple – an idiot, I mean, a volunteer wrestles an alligator by dragging it out of the water and then sticks his hand, and head, in the alligator’s mouth. Our performer had a bandaged hand – apparently the previous day’s show hadn’t gone so well. My kids watched this for a few minutes but decided they were scared of the alligators, so we went off to find other things. The island also has a small zoo, with monkeys and birds. There is an opportunity to take pictures with a tropical bird on your arm or shoulder if you would like. There is also concession stands, and a souvenir shop, although I didn’t see anything worth rushing to buy.
Things to know
There is a bar on the boat, but it stops serving while you are sailing back to the dock. The volunteer for the alligator show works for tips, so bring cash. Bring extra cash ($5) if you’ll want a picture with the baby alligator. On the island, the souvenir and food shops do take credit cards and they sell cold drinks and ice cream, among other things.
If you are looking for a tour to give you the history of Fort Lauderdale or something jam-packed with information, then this isn’t the tour for you. But this three hour trip is a nice ride with the kids, and can be a lot of fun. We enjoyed sitting together, talking, and looking at the houses. My daughter kept explaining to me why we NEEDED the 35,000 foot homes that we saw, and my son enjoyed the animals on the island. I didn’t get what I expected out of the trip, but it was a fun way to spend a few hours away from technology with the family.
Jungle Queen Riverboats
Location: 801 Seabreeze Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
Phone: (954) 462-5596