Ship Island Excursions charts new course after COVID-19 and Cristobal

It’s been almost a week since Cristobal unleashed heavy rain and strong winds throughout our area, but some local businesses are still reeling in the wake of this tropical storm.

Captain Louis Skrmetta has been at the helm of Ship Islands Excursions for 45 years, but 2020 has marked uncharted territory for this seasoned captain. “This is been one of the most stressful years I’ve ever experienced. We’ve experienced hurricanes, but hurricanes usually come in at the end of the season. This tropical storm came in right at the beginning of our peak tour season, which is going to be devastating for our business.”

There’s been a lot of explaining to do. Just ask these visitors who stopped by Friday in hopes of catching a trip out to Ship Island. “We got hit with the COVID-19 right at the beginning of the season, so we were shut down all the way through Memorial weekend. Then we got the green light to finally open on June 10th, and then we got hit with the storm right before June 10th.  It’s just been one thing after another. As you know the dock was damaged, heavily damaged, about 60 feet of pier missing. The Park Service is working as fast as they can to repair it, but it’s going to take a while. Maybe, they’re estimating six to eight weeks. We hope that’s not the case. We hope we can get a temporary fix and maybe be in action before the Fourth of July.”

Due to the latest challenge, Ship Island Excursions is shifting gears and adding a new, additional course. Starting next Friday, they’ll be adding sunset cruises in addition to the dolphin watching cruises. “You’ll see Gulfport from the water, which is beautiful, at night, especially with the lights. Of course, there will be a sunset right around 8:30.”

Until then you can hop on board and take a dolphin viewing cruise like Angie Story and her four grandsons from Missouri.  “They’ve never been out on a big boat in the ocean. So we decided to come out in the big boat.”

Starting next week, these dolphin cruises will launch daily from the Gulfport Harbor at 1:30 p.m.

In the meantime, Captain Skrmetta will be keeping his eye on the horizon, hoping to be freed up by an Independence Day to get trips to Ship Island back up and running again.

Categories: Featured, Harrison County, Local News, News

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