Getting away from the bustle and crowds of Orlando and its numerous neon-lit attractions was my main motivation and Clearwater, less than two hour’s drive away, seemed like a good idea. Getting on board Captain Memo’s Pirate’s Ransom – scarlet painted and done up to look like a good old-fashioned buccaneering vessel - made the decision even better.
Every kid has dreamed of being a pirate, “argh-ing” and looting his way across the seven seas. A little over two happy hours aboard Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise made that childhood fantasy come true. From the time you board the vessel on Clearwater Beach, the pirate theme is overriding. You cannot help but get in the spirit of the thing and a free welcoming beer or wine in hand certainly does its bit to heighten the mood.
Mind you, this is not one of those ‘gently drift upon the sea sipping a beer or soft drink’ type of cruises. These folks have been doing it for around 34 years and they have developed quite a number of tricks to keep you and the kids occupied, entertained and happy. The staff have plenty of enthusiasm and ability when dealing with children (and the adults too).
The crew entertained the children with lurid pirate tales, treasure hunts and face-painting sessions. They organised noisy and rowdy (if happy) water gun battles and musical games, up and down the 70 odd feet of the vessel. They had some rather colourful names too. Gangplank Gary, Black Jack Gerry, Shanghai Steve and Scurvy Steve are the ones I remember.
The ship’s capacity, I was told, was 125 people and it sure seemed full on my trip. It did not dim the pleasure what with the ‘all you can drink beer and wine’ policy. There was also a pretty good steel reggae band going full blast nearly the entire trip. The adults were not left out - there was a dance party. The frolic and games stopped a couple of times when a bunch of dolphins showed up. They followed the ship for a bit, leaping out of the water and playing. Those encounters put the froth on my beer!
The fun, games and drinking aside, I was reassured to learn that the Pirate’s Ransom was equipped with the latest life saving equipment, including life jackets and life rafts. In fact it met U.S. Coast Guard regulations.
The Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise is one of those rare cases where there was actually something for everyone. I disembarked happy and left Clearwater and the Pirate’s Ransom with a childhood fantasy, of living among swashbuckling pirates, come pretty close to true.