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Jungle Queen Riverboat Tour, Fort Lauderdale - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Days Out

Just north of Miami is the fascinating city of Fort Lauderdale. and it is here that you can take a very special cruise, through the intercoastal waterways and down to Miami. No, not on one of the giant cruise liners, but on the beautiful, traditionally built and classically styled ‘Jungle Queen’ riverboat. It’s just like the ones you see in the movies, bringing back memories of Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn, and the famous Oscar Hammerstein musical ‘Showboat.’

With its traditional elaborate scroll work on the rails, this white, solid-steel beauty will take you on trips up the New River, leaving from the Bahia Mar Docks in Fort Lauderdale. It is classically elegant and charming, and just looking at her sparkling hull will take you back to the days of a more leisurely way of travelling, You can almost believe you are back on the Mississippi!

The 560 passenger Jungle Queen has 3 traditional decks, including an open air top deck, atop which sits the Pilot house, where the master controls every aspect of her voyage. From the open top deck you have an unrestricted view in all directions. Beside the pilot house you will see the 2 tall black, red and gold port and starboard smoke stacks, and of course, an American flag flying gently in the breeze. It makes a stunning picture.

The Jungle Queen, and her smaller 180 passenger sister ship, offers several options. There is the ‘Sightseeing Cruise,’ which takes you up the New River, with its plush waterfront homes belonging to the rich and famous, into Downtown Fort Lauderdale, close to the Everglades, and stopping off at the Jungle Queen Indian Village. On the way, the Captain gives an interesting commentary on the ever changing vistas. At the Indian Village, a beautiful tropical island, you can see macaws and rare birds from all over the world. There is alligator wrestling, as well as native Seminole Indians, whose history goes back centuries. The cruise takes 3 hours and runs twice a day, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. It costs just $13.95 per adult, and $9.95 per child.

A smaller vessel, holding just 180 passengers offers the ‘Miami Bayside Cruise.’ Located in Miami, Bayside is an exciting, vibrant shopping centre with a market place selling local crafts, daily live entertainment, exotic restaurants, and many shops, including a Disney Store, Victoria’s Secrets, Bed and Body Works, Discovery Channel Store, to name but a few. There are 9 full service restaurants, from Italian to Cuban, plus a food court, Hard Rock Café, French Crepes etc. It is a bustling, lively place, and this tour offers you an 8 hour stop over at Bayside, so you can ‘shop ‘till you drop.’

However, their most famous cruise is the ‘All You Can Eat bar-B-Que Ribs and Shrimp Dinner.’ At 7.00 pm each night, the two Jungle Queens slip their moorings and sail up the New River, to a tropical island. There are beautiful homes to see, and many interesting sights along the way, and often residents will come out to greet these boats as they pass. Once at the island, passengers disembark and are directed to the dining room, where a dinner of BBQ ribs, shrimps and chicken are provided, and the food is unlimited. This is followed by a Variety Revue, a show which is put on especially for the guests of the Jungle Queens.

Perhaps the best bit is the fantastic moonlight trip back, with the twinkling lights on shore, and the starry sky to gaze up to. The Jungle Queen slips silently back to the Bahia Mar Docks, and its time to disembark. The whole trip lasts about 4 hours, and is a charming way to spend an evening.

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