Ship Island Excursion trips put off until at least June 5th


Everyone is looking forward to this three day weekend including our locals and visitors planning to relax on the legendary Mississippi Sound, but those who were looking forward to taking a trip with Ship Islands Excursions will have to wait a while longer.

Tom and Debbie Sveistrup and their sons Jaidin and Sebastian traveled 800 miles for their first trip to Mississippi. This vacation marked a lot of firsts for the Missouri family. “I’ve never seen the ocean. I figured I’m almost 60-years-old and I said ‘why not?’”

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A dolphin watching cruise in Gulfport lured them in. “The kids have never seen the beach, never have seen dolphins. So, that’s the game plan.”

The Sveistrups even got to discuss the trip beforehand with Captain Louis Skremetta. “It’s a 90-minute cruise right along Gulfport’s Front Beach but we also tour the harbor, the Gulfport ship harbor, and but we go out looking for pods of dolphins along the Gulfport ship channel.”

While the dolphin watching cruises have resumed, trips out to Ship Island have been delayed at least until June 5th. “The National Park Service has decided not to open the island for Memorial Weekend. Of course, we’re very disappointed with that. We are hopeful they’ll open the island, they’re saying now June 5th, according to the COVID-19 situation. We are very disappointed because Memorial Weekend is huge for us. We’ve already lost the spring and now losing this weekend, we’ve already lost, essentially, half of our operating season.”

Captain Skrmetta says that although the tour ships all have COVID-19 mitigations in place and are ready to go out to Ship Island, the National Park Service has staffing issues and is not ready for large numbers of people on the island.

So, for now, the tour ships will stay docked, but visitors and families can still take a quick trip out on the water and enjoy a close encounter with the dolphins or other marine life in our Mississippi Sound.

News 25 reached out to Gulf Islands Sea Shore which oversees Ship Island for comment. They have yet to return our call.

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Toni started at WXXV News 25 in December of 2013, just three months after the news was launched. She has served as Assignment Editor, anchored for nearly two years, worked as a reporter for several years and hosted Coastal Connections for more than four years. Toni graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern Mississippi where she was editor of the Student Printz. She then did an internship on Capitol Hill, working for a U.S. Senator, then returned to Mississippi as a reporter at WDAM in Hattiesburg. After that, she moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, working as a reporter for FOX 25 in Biloxi, then crossing city lines to work at WLOX-TV news in Biloxi, starting out as a producer, then working as a photographer, reporter, weekend assignment editor and weekend anchor. She was among the station team that won the Edward Murrow and Peabody awards for coverage during Hurricane Katrina. Toni moved to the Lone Star State where she worked as the morning and noon anchor, investigative reporter and live shot reporter for KZTV Action 10 News, then KRIS TV News in Corpus Christi, Texas. Toni moved back to the Magnolia State to be with and take care of her family, working as a multi-media journalist and fill-in anchor at WDBD Fox 40 news in Jackson. After almost completing a second degree in filmmaking at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast, Toni transitioned back to news at News 25. Toni is blessed to have a wonderful support network of close family, friends and mentors, and she hopes to pay it forward. She has a three-legged chiweenie named Rocky Balboa because of his fighting spirit. She loves writing and has completed a novel that has been adapted into a screenplay, and has just finished another screenplay called "Delta Rose." She's currently working on a new legal thriller called "Fall From Grace." Stay tuned.... If you’d like to book a live in studio interview on News 25 Today, just email: These interviews can have up to two guests, last about two minutes and showcase community events, non-profit organizations and things of interest to people in our area…and they’re FREE! Just send information about your event, including date, time, location, contact number and/or website for viewers wanting more information, along with the proper name and titles of the person or two people who will be interviewed, and Toni or producer Porsha Williams ( will get back with you via email in a timely manner to book a date. Typical interview times are daily at: 5:45, 6:45, 7:45 or 8:45 am. Guests are asked to arrive about 30 minutes beforehand. You can also ask about booking a live shot on location for news events for our 6 and 7 am newscasts. We look forwarding to having you!


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