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?’”
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.