South Florida Adventures: The Jungle Queen Riverboat Cruise

Once in a blue moon, my wife and I get a day or two to ourselves with no children (other than the furry kind, of course). When these rare opportunities present themselves, we look for new adventures in our South Florida backyard. This past weekend, my wife found a riverboat cruise in Ft. Lauderdale called Jungle Queen Riverboat Cruise. They offer several experiences including; 90 minute river cruises, sightseeing cruise & tropical isle tour, and an evening cruise with a dinner show on their tropical isle.

We settled on the three hour, afternoon sightseeing cruise & tropical isle tour which promised, 
"...fully narrated cruise down the "Venice of America," Fort Lauderdale's historic New River. See Millionaire's Row with homes of the Rich and Famous, spectacular Mega Yachts, and sights beyond belief." -www.junglequeen.com
All this for a mere $30 per guest. The cruise takes you to their own "tropical isle" where you can watch an alligator show, see exotic birds, monkeys, and other exotic animals. They sort of delivered on this, but it wasn't what we expected. Before I dive deeper into that, let's start at the beginning.

A Ship Fit for a Queen

Photo by James L Gass IV
The Jungle Queen Riverboat. Ⓒ 2018 James L Gass IV

The tour company has two boats, River Queen and Jungle Queen.  River Queen is apparently only used for the 90 minute evening cruise. We were there for the sightseeing cruise, so we boarded Jungle Queen, which reminded me of a tour bus one would charter in a tourist-centric city like Philadelphia. It had drink bars on both decks that served water, craft beer, and liquor which I thought was a pretty cool idea. Since I didn't feel we were on the boat long enough for me to partake, I can't tell you what the prices were like, but I assume you could expect to pay four to five dollars per bottle for their craft beer options (typical in South Florida).

My only real complaint about the boat was the seats. They were narrow metal frames with plastic strips for the seat and backs, similar to a folding beach chair. Now, I'm not that big of a guy, but my booty didn't completely fit between the frame so, it was just a tad uncomfortable, but not unbearable. Just a word of advice, sit either in the very front of the boat, or at least closest to the outside as possible. It's hot out there and you want to get as much of that breeze as you possibly can.

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

Photo by James L Gass IV
Mansion on the New River in Ft. Lauderdale. Ⓒ 2018 James L Gass IV

They call this the Jungle Queen Riverboat but you'll quickly notice that there isn't much of a jungle in sight. In 1935, when the cruise first opened, I'm sure it had that name for a good reason. Now, it's primarily a 60 minute tour of multi-million dollar homes and yachts owned by a few famous people but mostly people I've never heard of before. If you you like being reminded of how much money you don't have, it's lovely.
  
Photo by James L Gass IV
Mansion on the New River in Ft. Lauderdale. Ⓒ 2018 James L Gass IV
All jokes aside, I did enjoy the relaxing cruise down New River and getting to see some beautiful homes and amazing yachts that surrounded us. While I wouldn't want to live in a home of that size, I do wonder what it would be like to stay in one for a week or so.

Photo by James L Gass IV
Yacht at the Lauderdale Marine Center. Ⓒ 2018 James L Gass IV


A Tiny Jungle in Ft. Lauderdale

Photo by James L Gass IV
Jungle Queen Tropical Isle. Ⓒ 2018 James L Gass IV

After about an hour of cruising down the river, we docked at the Jungle Queen's tropical isle and this where things fell flat. As I mentioned earlier, my wife and I had much different expectations for this part of our adventure. We both expected a cage free environment like you would find at Gatorland in Orlando, or Lion Country Safari here in West Palm Beach. Instead, we found a small "jungle" park with a few cages that had held cockatoos, parrots (with which you can have your photo taken), an owl, a couple of monkeys, and a lemur. There was also an alligator show where someone gave a short lecture on gators and their habitat, and if you're brave enough, you can hold a live alligator. That was about it; we walked the entire area in five minutes then, waited around for 30 minutes to leave.

Photo by James L Gass IV
Monkey in a Cage. Ⓒ 2018 James L Gass IV

If you get hungry, there are a couple of concession stands that offer drinks, hot dogs, hamburgers, and ice-cream. Vegetarians like my wife and me don't have many options other than ice cream or chips. I would recommend you pack some snacks and bottled water in a backpack since they don't check bags when you get on the boat. Overall I think the experience as a whole was ok, but in my opinion, I would skip the tropical isle tour and just book one of the 90 minute cruises. I think I would rate this mini adventure 3 out of 5 cameras.

Photo by James L Gass IV
Jungle Queen Tropical Isle. Ⓒ 2018 James L Gass IV

Check out the Jungle Queen Riverboat Cruise website for more information on all the tours they offer. If you want to see more of my photography and purchase prints of my work, head over to gasshousephoto.com


Comments