"It’s an experience unlike any we have on the Coast,” Captain Michael White said when asked why one should take a cruise on the Betsy Ann Riverboat. "If you are looking for something unique to do, this is it. Cruising the Mississippi Sound and learning local history and lore that most locals haven’t heard about.”
The Betsy Ann Riverboat is true sternwheel paddleboat with an upper deck and closed cabin, offering public and private sightseeing, historical, and ecological trips along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Gulf Coast natives Michael and Dayna White found the Betsy Ann, a paddle wheeler built in 1989, for sale and docked in Panama City, Florida last year. Michael, who grew up exploring the Barrier Islands and sailing and fishing in the Mississippi Sound, has been a boat captain for over twenty years. With stints as harbormaster at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, operating a land and sea tour company called Lucky Duck Amphibious Tours, and seven years as a tugboat captain on the Mississippi River, he and Dayna decided that purchasing the riverboat would be the perfect opportunity to bring home for tourists and locals alike to enjoy.
A tribute to the original Betsy Ann, which was the first steel hull riverboat on the Mississippi that used to run mail, cattle, and cotton, Michael piloted the paddleboat to Biloxi, where it is now docked between the Golden Nugget Casino and Margaritaville resort. They began public cruises at the beginning of the year, and have been a huge success ever since.
Coast Guard certified for 150 passengers, the 89-foot long vessel can accommodate 60 to 80 people for dinner, and has seating for 50 topside. The main cabin is heated and air-conditioned for your comfort, and has a bar serving beer, soft drinks, and water. The upper deck has both covered and open areas, with bench style seating for watching the spinning paddlewheel that is the only propulsion used for the riverboat.
The Betsy Ann offers sunset cruises, eco-cruises, and dinner cruises where guests will enjoy beautiful scenery and delightful wildlife sightings including dolphins, brown pelicans, and herons. Depending on the cruise, you may listen to live entertainment, or colorful narration by the captain as he informs passengers about local history, the seafood industry, the Barrier Islands, local folklore of Deer Island, wildlife, and ecology.
Dinner cruises are perfect for romantic evenings on the water, where passengers can order dinner catered by a local restaurant, while enjoying beautiful sunsets and the lights of the city on the return to the dock.
The Betsy Ann Riverboat operates year-round, and is perfect for family reunions, weddings, rehearsal dinners, bridal showers, corporate meetings, birthdays, anniversaries, and more. On the cruise I took, I even got to witness the joyous engagement of a beautiful couple. Reservations are required for dinner and private charters. Be sure to look for special cruises such as the upcoming Hibachi Night on the Water, Valentine’s Day Dinner, Mother’s Day Brunch, and a July 4th Fireworks Cruise.
Betsy Ann Riverboat
173 Beach Blvd