Downtown Ft. Lauderdale is a fun place, there's no question about it. Park your car in a garage near the Las Olas shops or closer to the beach, and you can make a day of dining, site seeing and hot footing it across white sands. One of the best ways to accomplish all three is the BlueFoot Pirate Adventures Cruise. As a mother of two (my kids are age 9 and 11), I was sure this site seeing cruise could pass the time on an idle summer day. Low and behold, me mateys – I was right!
We took a school friend with us, and all three kids thoroughly enjoyed what I like to think of as theater on the high seas. I'll explain why that is later on in this review. First the logistics. I booked our trip days in advance, and got (in my email) receipts, reminders and instructions about where to park and when to show up. We went to the 3 o'clock show, and arrived at the recommended time of 2:30, so the kids could play dress up with vests, sashes, pirate patches and make-up.
My daughter, pictured below, got a lady like skull n 'cross bones tattoo. Her friend got something tougher. My son, age 11, seemed to be on the "too old" side for this adventure, and quickly found another middle school-er to pal around with while we waited to board the ship. Neither of them dressed up, got tatty, or asked to have their faces painted – although the lady employed as artist was very nice and accommodating of anything her First Mates asked for.
My daughter, Anna sporting her pirate tat
I spotted stitches, hearts with deep fissures and sea monsters on passengers. In the 30 minutes we waited to get on board the ship, the kids had fun playing with their pirate swag, which you can buy for 8 bucks when you sign the pre-board safety forms.
Black Rose getting ready to hand over hard earned treasure!
Pre-boarding fun includes a fencing lesson with the plastic swords, and a pep rally before you board, with Black Rose as your guide.
Here she is, "Black Rose", interacting with the kids. Black Rose is a high energy person, capable of getting children's full attention. While on board, she led the kids in discovery of Pirate Booty, shooting water cannons, and hoisting up a fierce black flag. She'll gladly introduce you to Kava, a beautiful parrot who lives on board. Next to Kava's cage, the adults gather for a narrated tour of Millionaire Row along the New River.
Tis a lovely ship, The BlueFoot
It's driven by the affable Captain Chris, who looks a little bit like Brad Pitt. It isn't long before he warns his First Mates about the approach of…drumroll…The Barnacle – an evil dude in a little speed boat, who has the key to a legendary treasure chest. The kids take turns shooting water cannons at The Barnacle until he surrenders.
I don't want this review to contain too many spoilers about how (and IF) the magic treasure chest key is recovered from this scoundrel. You'll just have to board the cruise and see if your little one walks away with any pirate booty.
So now comes the part where I give my true opinion of this site seeing cruise – where I tell you if it's worth the money. If you have a pint sized pirate like the one pictured here, I'd say yes, absolutely.
If your kids are between the ages of 3 and 6, BlueFoot Pirating is truly fun and suspenseful and, better yet, the parents get a cute photo op. With older kids, it doesn't take long for the novelty to wear off. But I didn't mind the corniness because I had Brad Pitt, and his funny factoids about the rich people who inhabit Millionaire Row – some of whom make The Barnacle look like an angel.
Pint sized pirate enjoys the view
And here's another thing all your deal loving Moms, booking site seeing cruises in Ft. Lauderdale will like:
Who knew that Bluefoot Pirates, especially those in the ticketing office, were such highly efficient people? They happily informed me that if something came up and I gave them 24 hour notice, I could cancel without penalty. You can also easily reschedule if the Florida rainy season dumps a monsoon. If you've ever lived through a hot, wet summer in South Florida, you can appreciate the peace of mind this brings.
BlueFoot Pirating means cheap and awesome parking!
Parking can be tough in downtown Lauderdale and along A1-A, but this was not at all the case on the day of our pirate adventure. I was invited to stay parked at the Bahia Mar hotel lot on Seabreeze Blvd until midnight if I wanted to. The cost was just five bucks, and the location of the BlueFoot ship is within walking distance of the beach, plus seafood restaurants galore. When we disembarked, Captain Chris told us it was Taco Tuesday and the food truck down the plank had $1 tacos. NICE!