What would you like to know about cruising with us? We hear many of the same questions from guests and have provided the answers here. If you don’t see the information you need, call us at 239-472-5300. We would love to hear from you and answer your questions.

Do I have to make reservations?2019-12-02T20:49:56-05:00

Yes – reservations are required for all cruises. That said, you can walk up and purchase tickets just prior to a cruise, however, we never suggest that. Not only could the cruise be sold out, but it could be departing from a different location, cancelled due to weather, a private charter or any number of reasons. It is always best to have a reservation or at least call before coming.

How far in advance should I reserve?2019-12-02T20:50:25-05:00

We typically do reservations over the phone up to one week in advance. Our website schedule is usually out at least one month in advance for daily cruises and allows you to book further in advance. Groups should book with as much notice as possible.

May I make a reservation with my credit card and then pay cash on arrival?2020-06-24T13:30:21-04:00

No – all reservations require a credit card for payment and charges are posted to that credit card at the time of your reservation.

I am traveling with other people, may we give you one credit card and pay separately upon arrival?2019-12-02T20:54:09-05:00

No – You may pay separately, but it must be done at the time of your reservation. You must make individual reservations under each billing name and credit card. This may not be done at check-in as the credit cards are charged prior to your arrival.

(Note: If you are joining us for Useppa, please mention the party name with whom you would like to be seated. Useppa has two lunch seatings so we want to make sure you are in the same seating!)

Are children allowed on the boats?2019-12-02T20:54:41-05:00

Yes – All of our cruises are family friendly. Some cruises may be more appropriate than others depending on the age and your individual children. Feel free to speak with a representative about their recommendations.

I have an infant or 1 year old, do they have to pay?2019-12-02T20:55:04-05:00

While children under 2 are complimentary, they still require a ticket to board the vessel and count in the overall passenger count on board. Please make sure we know about them!

What happens if it rains?2019-12-02T20:55:51-05:00

Our policy is rain or shine as long as the conditions are safe. Some boats and/or venues are more subject to cancellation than others. i.e. cruises on the Lady Chadwick, which has an enclosed lower deck cabin, are less likely to be cancelled than cruises on our Catamaran Sailboat which is completely open to the elements. If the Captain deems conditions unsafe, every effort will be made to contact passengers with as much advance notice as possible, and reservations may be refunded or re-scheduled.

What is your cancellation policy?2020-06-24T13:14:41-04:00

A $5 cancellation fee applies to all reservations cancelled outside of 24 hours. If the reservation is cancelled within 24 hours of cruise departure time, tickets are NON-REFUNDABLE and NON-TRANSFERABLE. We do not compensate for no-shows or late arrivals.

If I ordered my tickets online, do I need to check in at the office?2020-06-24T13:26:39-04:00

In the past, our passengers have always picked up their tickets and checked in at the ticket office located at the vessel departure location, either McCarthy’s Marina or South Seas Island Resort. During this time of COVID-19, our passengers may go directly to the vessel, where the crew will check you in with the boat manifest. No tickets needed. Please be sure which departure location your cruise will be departing from!

How soon should we arrive before departure?2019-12-02T20:57:44-05:00

30 to 45 minutes prior to your scheduled departure time.

Will I get sea sick?2019-12-02T20:59:28-05:00

Most of our boats travel in Pine Island Sound (the bay side of the islands) and only travel along the Gulf if the weather and calm seas permit. The boats travel on the bay side of the islands so you are always in sight of land and the average depth is about 4.5 feet. This results in a very calm experience, making the onset of sea sickness unlikely.

Are the boats handicap accessible?2019-12-02T20:59:51-05:00

Please speak with one of our representative about your specific needs and comfort level as each of our boats have different boarding procedures.

Do I need to bring a life jacket?2019-12-02T21:00:20-05:00

No – our boats are USCG certified with life jackets for everyone on board. No one is required to wear a life jacket on our boats (except for the 6 passenger boats). If you have your own life vest and would like to bring it, please feel free to do so.

Are your boats covered?2019-12-03T14:32:43-05:00

Yes – All of our boats have some type of coverage. The Lady Chadwick has an enclosed, air-conditioned lower deck and both the Playtime and Santiva have canopies covering the back 2/3 of the boat. The Adventure sailboat has a small Bimini top covering the helm and the 6-pack boats have small cabins and overhangs over the helm. Meet our fleet.

Do your boats have restrooms?2019-12-02T21:05:28-05:00

All of our vessels have a bathroom with the exception of our 6-passenger boats.

Do you serve drinks or food on your boats?2019-12-03T14:28:52-05:00

The Lady Chadwick offers a full service cash bar as well as snacks (chips, pretzels, etc.). The Playtime, Santiva and Adventure sailboat offer limited beverages for sale on a cash basis. You may double check which boat is being used when you make your reservation and more information is available about each vessel. Meet our fleet.

Are pets allowed on the boat?2019-12-02T21:11:07-05:00

No – While we love animals, we do not allow pets on our vessels other than service animals with the proper papers.

Do you sell fishing licenses?2019-12-02T21:11:42-05:00

No – but last we knew they were available at Jensen’s Marina on Captiva or The Bait Box or Bailey’s on Sanibel.

How long has Captiva Cruises been in business?2019-12-02T21:12:46-05:00

Captiva Cruises celebrated it’s 30th anniversary in October 2016.

Do we have to make reservations at the restaurant?2019-12-02T21:20:16-05:00

No, individuals do not need to make reservations at the restaurant. The islands expect us every day and know how many people we are bringing as a whole. The only exception might be for larger groups of 15+ people. Please discuss your group needs with a representative from our office.

Is lunch included in the ticket price?2019-12-02T21:20:39-05:00

No – You may purchase your lunch at the restaurant on the island.

May I bring my own lunch?2019-12-02T21:21:11-05:00

No – Each island has its own unique restaurant so you can take the day off from food preparation!

How should we dress? Should I wear a bathing suit?2019-12-02T21:21:59-05:00

Island casual is fine…there is no need to wear a bathing suit as there are no beaches on the islands. (Useppa does have an artificial beach, but it is reserved for members only.)

What should I bring?2019-12-02T21:22:25-05:00

There is a full-service cash bar on board the Lady Chadwick, and you are going up the islands for lunch, so you really don’t need to bring much. We usually suggest a camera, hat, and sunscreen…items you normally like to travel with.

What type of boat will we be on?2019-12-02T21:23:05-05:00

Typically this trip goes out on our 148 passenger double deck boat, “Lady Chadwick,” however, at times the Lady Chadwick may be booked for a private function or maintenance in which case the trip would run on one of our 49 passenger power catamarans. Let us know if the vessel being used is important to you!

Is there a bathroom on the boat?2019-12-02T21:23:43-05:00

Yes – separate men’s and ladies’ rooms on the Lady Chadwick.

Is it a long walk to the restaurant? What if someone in my party has trouble walking?2019-12-02T21:24:11-05:00

The Cabbage Key Inn overlooks the marina where the boat pulls in and is not a long walk. On Useppa, there is a docent that greets you at the base of the island and does a little walking tour (about a 10 minute walk) up to the restaurant and museum. On either island, if someone has trouble walking, the crew will be happy to assist and can take them to the restaurant in a golf cart. Please call our office with specific mobility needs.

Is there a charge for the museum on Useppa?2019-12-02T21:24:41-05:00

Yes – the museum does ask for a $5 donation, and it is worth every penny!

Are Boca Grande and Gasparilla Island different destinations?2019-12-02T21:26:57-05:00

No – Boca Grande is the town located on Gasparilla Island.

I see Boca Grande says seasonal on your website – What is the season?2019-12-02T21:27:23-05:00

Typically from mid-October to mid-July. Most shops and restaurant close between mid-July and mid-October.

How far is the walk to the town from where the boat pulls in?2019-12-02T21:27:47-05:00

It’s about a 10 minute walk. Golf carts are available to rent on a first come, first serve basis at the marina where we dock. There are additional golf cart rental shops in town.

Where does the boat pull in?2019-12-02T21:28:08-05:00

Boca Grande Marina (the old Miller’s Marina).

How much are the golf carts?2019-12-02T21:29:27-05:00

Between $35-45 and they can be rented right at the marina where the boat docks and well as other locations in town.

May I reserve a golf cart in advance?2019-12-02T21:29:56-05:00

Boca Grande Marina is first come/first serve upon arrival, but there are some places in town that will take advanced reservations. Guests with mobility concerns can either call to reserve from a cart rental place in town, or the crew can call ahead to Boca Grande Marina. Otherwise, Boca Grande Marina does not take advanced reservations.

Is there a map of the island?2019-12-02T21:30:24-05:00

Yes – the crew will give out maps or visitor guides on board.

How long are we on Boca Grande?2019-12-02T21:30:48-05:00

About 3 hours. The boat ride is about an hour and a half each way.

What type of boat will we be on?2019-12-02T21:33:34-05:00

Typically this trip goes out on one of our 49 passenger power catamarans such as the Santiva or Playtime.

Do they serve drinks on board?2019-12-02T21:33:21-05:00

Yes – Limited beverages are available for purchase, however there is no food or snacks. You are more than welcome to bring your own snacks.

Is there a bathroom on board?2019-12-02T21:34:20-05:00


I see this is a seasonal trip – What is the season?2019-12-02T21:36:12-05:00

Our Tarpon Lodge Cruise is typically offered one day a week, usually Tuesdays, from mid-December through April. The Tarpon Lodge is open year round, so if you have a group you would like to book, please call our office.

How long does it take to get there?2019-12-02T21:36:48-05:00

The cruise over is about an hour and the return about 45 minutes.

Is lunch included in the price?2020-06-24T13:01:58-04:00

No – lunch is additional at the Tarpon Lodge.

Is there a charge for the Randell Research Center?2020-01-03T15:51:57-05:00

Yes – but your admission to the RRC is included in your ticket price of $45.

Is there a lot of walking at the RRC?2019-12-02T21:39:09-05:00

There is a bit of walking, but you can really participate as much or as little as you like and there are sitting benches along the way. There is also plenty to see right at the visitor center.

How long are we on Pine Island?2019-12-02T21:39:35-05:00

About 3 hours. The boat ride is 45-60 minutes each way.

What type of boat will we be on?2019-12-02T21:40:12-05:00

This trip goes out on one of our 49 passenger power catamarans such as the Santiva or Playtime.

Do they serve drinks on board?2019-12-02T21:40:38-05:00

Yes – Limited beverages are available for purchase, however there is no food or snacks. You are more than welcome to bring your own snacks.

Is there a bathroom on board?2019-12-02T21:43:56-05:00


Where do the beach and shelling cruises go?2019-12-02T21:45:41-05:00

We offer both ½ day and full day trips. The ½ day trip goes to the southern end of Cayo Costa which is about ½ hour boat ride each way with two hours on the beach. The boat pulls into a dock on the bay side of this narrow section of the island and it is a short walk to the gulf side.  The full day trip goes to the north end of the same island which is a 1-hour travel time each with 4-hours on the island. This north end of the island is where the ranger station is for the state park and it is about 1-mile wide. You may hike or take the tractor tram across from the bay side to the gulf side.

May I go up in the morning and return in the afternoon on the ½ day?2019-12-02T21:46:07-05:00

No – The reason being we do not want to leave anyone up there unattended and if the weather should change in the afternoon, it’s possible the afternoon trip could be cancelled.

May I go up on the full day, stay overnight – and return on the ½ day?2019-12-02T21:47:36-05:00

No – the ½ trip picks up at the southern end of the island which is about 9-miles away from the north end.

What do we do up there?2019-12-02T21:47:59-05:00

Shell, Swim, watch wildlife…anything you might normally do at the beach except that you are on a beautiful state park island that is only accessible by boat.

Is the shelling better than on Sanibel or Captiva? Will we find lots of big shells?2019-12-02T21:48:24-05:00

It’s not that the shelling is better or the shells necessarily any bigger – but you are going to a barrier island state park beach that is only accessible by boat. While shelling can change day to day, there will be less competition as the island is harder for people to get to.

If I am considering the ½ day trip, is the morning the best time to go?2019-12-02T21:48:48-05:00

Not necessarily…a lot of people like to be the first ones on the beach and it’s cooler (in the summer time). Avid shellers generally like to go at low tide or on an outgoing tide closer to low tide.

Is there a bathroom on the island?2019-12-02T21:49:12-05:00

Not in the areas we go on the ½ day trip, but in those cases the boat stays with you and there is a bathroom on the boat – you are always free to come and go as you please. There are bathrooms and showers on the North End of Cayo Costa where we go on the full day shelling trip.

Is there shade on the island?2019-12-02T21:49:36-05:00

There is a large “tiki hut” with picnic tables underneath on the full day trip – which is part of the Cayo Costa State Park camp ground. There are also hiking trails in the center of the island. On the ½ day trip there is really no shade, but one could always come back to the boat where there is plenty of shade. You may also bring an umbrella!

Does the boat stay with us while we are on the beach?2019-12-02T21:50:15-05:00

On the full day trip to the north end of Cayo Costa, the boat drops you off and on the ½ day trip to the southern end of Cayo Costa, the boat stays with you.

Can we bring chairs and umbrellas?2019-12-02T21:50:42-05:00


I read we have to pay a state park fee?2019-12-02T21:51:10-05:00

Yes there is a $2.00 per person state park fee. The fee will be paid when you purchase your tickets. There is no need to bring cash to pay the fee at the island.

Is there a charge for the tram on the full day?2019-12-02T21:53:56-05:00

No – it is included in the $2 state park fee

How do you get on and off the boat?2019-12-02T21:54:14-05:00

On both the ½ day trip and the full day trip, the boat will pull into a dock on the bay side of the island. The ½ day trip does have the option to pull up onto the beach, but 99% of the time a dock is used. If the boat is beached, passengers climb down a ladder. Depending on the tide, it is possible to get up to mid-calf in the water. On the full day trip they use the state park dock 100% of the time.

If we pull in on the bay side, how far across is it to the gulf side?2019-12-02T21:54:35-05:00

On the ½ day trip, we dock at a very narrow section of the island and it is a short distance through a trail to get over to the gulf side. On the full day trip, we pull into the state park dock, where the ranger station is for the state park. In this case the island is about 1-mile wide. You have the option to take a tractor tram over to the gulf side or you can hike the trails across.

What type of boat will we be on?2019-12-02T21:55:00-05:00

Typically this trip goes out on one of our 49 passenger power catamarans such as the Santiva or Playtime.

Are we guaranteed to see dolphins?2019-12-02T21:56:48-05:00

While we cannot guarantee dolphin sightings as they are in the wild (we often joke that they are not on our payroll), we do see them about 95% of the time.

What else will we see on the dolphin cruise?2019-12-02T21:57:24-05:00

Birds and on rare occasions sea turtles, stingrays, and they will also talk about the history of the area and other points of interest.

Will we see manatees?2019-12-02T21:57:46-05:00

Manatees are usually best seen from the docks where we depart.

Will we get wet? Should I wear a bathing suit?2019-12-02T21:58:08-05:00

You will not get wet, and island casual is fine. You do not need to wear a bathing suit. Some people may dress in swim suits as they are coming from the beach while others may be dressed for dinner.

Is 4pm the best time of day to see dolphins?2019-12-02T21:58:39-05:00

Not necessarily…we have a resident dolphin population of over 100 dolphins that live here year round so it’s possible to see dolphins on any of our cruises at any time of day.

May we swim with the dolphins?2019-12-02T21:59:06-05:00

Feeding or interfering with marine mammals is illegal according to the Marine Mammal Protection Act. There are places where swimming with the dolphins is permitted in the Florida Keys or north at the Clearwater Aquarium.

What type of boat will we be on?2019-12-02T21:59:30-05:00

Typically this trip goes out on our 148 passenger double decker boat “Lady Chadwick,” however, at times, the Lady Chadwick may be booked for a private function or maintenance in which case the trip would run on one of our 49 passenger power catamarans.

Is it narrated?2019-12-02T22:00:06-05:00

Yes – It is narrated by a volunteer from the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation. (If one is not available – All of Captiva Cruises crew members have been through the same training program as the SCCF docents.)

What should I do if I see a manatee or dolphin?2019-12-02T22:00:47-05:00

Enjoy the moment and appreciate their grace and beauty. Do not reach out to them or get in the water to swim with them.  The best way to enjoy their company is to observe them from a distance.

Is it okay to give dolphins, manatees or other wildlife food and water?2019-12-02T22:01:21-05:00

Feeding or interfering with marine mammals is illegal according to the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

What is the difference between your different types of sunset cruises?2019-12-02T22:02:49-05:00

We offer THREE different types of sunset cruises and they are quite different. (1) The Wildlife Sunset Cruise is a 90 minute cruise where you will listen to a light narration and watch dolphins and wildlife for the first half of the cruise and then enjoy the sunset on the return.  (2) Our Sunset Serenade Cruise is a 60 minute cruise with a local musician typically on the Lady Chadwick and (3) the Sunset Sailing Cruise is a 2-hour cruise aboard our 24-passenger sailing catamaran “Adventure”.

May I bring my own drinks?2019-12-02T22:03:48-05:00

No – there will be a cash bar available on board depending on which vessel is used; The Lady Chadwick offers a full service cash bar while the Santiva and Playtime offer limited beverages on board for purchase.

May I bring snacks?2019-12-02T22:04:13-05:00

Sure. If the Lady Chadwick is used, there are snacks available for purchase.

What type of boat is it?2019-12-02T22:04:54-05:00

Depending on the time of year, we will use either the Lady Chadwick OR one of our 49 passenger powered catamarans (not a sailboat).

Is there a bathroom on board?2019-12-02T22:05:26-05:00


Where do they go?2019-12-02T22:05:59-05:00

It’s really up to the Captain and depends where they have been seeing dolphins, but they will certainly be around Red Fish Pass at sunset so that you may see an unobstructed view of the sunset.

What should we bring on the Beach and Shelling Cruise?2019-12-03T14:50:26-05:00

On board the boat they have coolers of ice as well as plastic shelling bags – we suggest you dress like you are going to the beach and take along anything else you normally like to have at the beach with you…hat, towel, sunscreen, etc.

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