Fort Lauderdale (current location I call home) is known as the Venice of America, so upon visiting, it is highly suggested you explore the city by boat. There are numerous options; from partaking in water sports, chartering a private boat, dinner cruises, airboat rides (Everglades exploration), and even a water taxi! I have experienced all of the above, including the well-known riverboat, the Jungle Queen.
If I am to be completely honest, it is not mind-blowing by any means. BUT if you are looking for something to do while in Fort Lauderdale that is a little out of the ordinary and popular with tourists, then, by all means, give it a go. My number one tip is to purchase your tickets via Groupon – they always seem to be available on the site and it will save you some moolah. As a local residing close-by to where the Jungle Queen docks, I figured it would be a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
I got to the check-in about 30 minutes prior to boarding/departure and happy I did as the line forms quickly for boarding and you want to ensure you get a good seat – there is covered and exposed seating. The boat looks just like an old-school riverboat and navigates the New River/waterways of Ft Lauderdale with narration. Upon cruising, you view multi-million-dollar homes with some information about the owners of these gorgeous residences. It was informative and sometimes funny, but the best part was just sitting in the sun, breeze in my hair, and enjoying the boat ride. The boat does have a cash bar that sells wine, beer, cocktails, and light snacks which enhances the experience.
This particular tour took us to the Jungle Queen “island”, a tropical peninsula owned by the company that is home to their evening dinner show in addition to their rescued exotic animals. I have heard mixed reviews about whether or not these animals are rescued and treated with the proper care, you can do your own research… but from my experience, everything seemed well maintained and the animals looked healthy and well taken care of. They do host an alligator show which was less than impressive and something I personally don’t support. Aside from the “entertainment”, it was nice to stroll the property, look at the exotic birds, lemurs and monkeys and visit the gift shop and learn more about the history of the Jungle Queen’s beginnings. Fun fact, it has been around since 1935!! You have about 45 minutes to an hour at the tropical isle and then you’re homeward bound.
I opted to do the afternoon sightseeing cruise and tropical isle tour which was about a 3-hour excursion. There are other options including dinner and a show. Again, I must reiterate, I cannot fully recommend this as a must-see on your itinerary. I personally think you will have a much better experience on the water taxi. But if you have exhausted other options, have some spare time, are interested in being on the water or looking for something to do, then I do think this was a fun way to pass the time!
Have you been to Fort Lauderdale? If so, tell me how you chose to explore the city and waterways, I would love to know!