This Pirate Cruise In Florida Is A Unique Thrilling Activity For Kids

Avast, ye hardies! 'Tis time for a pirate cruise! If your wee swashbucklers have a love of the sea and eyepatches, you don't have to travel the world to "Pirates of the Caribbean" filming locations or go to Pirate Week in the Cayman Islands. Instead, pay a visit to the Florida panhandle for a ride on a "real" pirate ship. The Sea Dragon Pirate Cruise in Panama City, Florida (around 100 miles west of Tallahassee) takes you and your kids on a two-hour trip around a lagoon at Panama City Beach.


There are tons of activities, plenty of snacks, and a captain and crew to help the children learn about what it was like to live on the sea. The Sea Dragon launched in 1993 as a modern-day replica of some of the vessels that sailed the seven seas. It has engines for power rather than just the wind, but it's the perfect ship for a treasure hunt. (No, really. The kids get to find treasure and share it among themselves.) Even better? Tickets are only $35 for adults, $30 for seniors over 60, $25 for ages 3 to 14, $20 for toddlers, and free for infants (though they do need a ticket). Gather your shoulder parrots and tricorn hats and get ready to set sail.

Sail for two hours on the Sea Dragon

The Florida Panhandle offers many amazing activities, but this experience is unique. The Sea Dragon launch point is right in the Panama City Beach Lighthouse Marina, and it makes several voyages a day, often including a 9 a.m., a 12 p.m., a 3 p.m., and a sunset pirate cruise. It rarely cancels for rain. Heading up the trip is Captain "Fearless" Phil and his family. (Captain Phil is a former SCUBA instructor, first aid-CPR instructor, and lifeguard.) The Sea Dragon itself is 85 feet long and 26 feet wide and weighs 157,000 tons. The ship is accessible for wheelchairs, though the bathrooms are not. There is a wide deck, the "dungeon" below, and a covered area to stay out of the sun on the upper deck.


The two-hour tour stays around a half-mile from shore, and you're likely to see dolphins, though there's no guarantee, of course. If your young matey has a birthday, give Captain Phil a note with their name and age on it, and they'll get a shoutout at the end of the trip. There are snacks like hot dogs and candy on board, as well as soda, water, and drinks like beer, wine, margaritas, and rum for the adults. There are plenty of activities to keep the kids occupied while you enjoy a pirate tipple.

Pirate activities for the kids

The little pirates will have music through the entire voyage, and they'll even learn some pirate songs. (Maybe all those sea shanties you mastered during lockdown were worth it.) They'll learn to fire a "kid cannon," as well as see it being shot from the bow. They'll get instructions on reading a treasure map, which will help get them to where "X" marks the spot for pirate treasure. As you can see in the previous photo, they actually fish the chest out of the sea.


The kids will also be put to work, learning to swab the deck (something you can maybe ask them to do at home with a good enough "arrr"). They also get to have a water gun fight, catch flying "cannonballs," and have a pirate dance party. Who's to say that real pirates didn't get down a bit out on the open ocean? There is face painting and some pirate tattoos as well.

One reviewer on Yelp (where Sea Dragon Pirate Cruise has 4.8 stars) wrote, "Oh my goodness this completely exceeded our expectations! It was absolutely wonderful! The staff were in costume and occupied the kids with all sorts of games, and gave them pirate hats. The captain pirate was also the MC and was really funny. The kids had an absolute blast!"