The Marco Princess is known among tourist and locals as the large, floating attraction that offers sunset and sightseeing cruises.
Independently operated by Sunshine Tours since December 2009, the 90-foot yacht carries up to 149 people on daily, narrated cruises, including lunch and sunset dinner tours. This season the Marco Princess will offer starlight cruises, a “floating dinner experience” for people who want to dine after sunset.
“The idea was targeted towards those that can’t make it by 5 p.m,” said Robin Shifflett, manager of group sales and event planning for the Marco Princess. “People can stay on the beach longer. It gives them another option.”
Starlight cruises leave around 8:15 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. They will run through the end of February, and the price is $25 per person. Entrée dinners can be purchased separately when reserving. Salad and rolls are included. Drinks, cocktails and desserts are available for purchase onboard.
“People can dine under the stars,” said Cedric Davis, captain of the Marco Princess since 1997. “It will be like a restaurant with ever changing scenery.”
The nighttime tour travels through the Marco River, the Gulf of Mexico, Collier and Smokehouse Bay, allowing patrons to see popular Marco attractions at night, such as the Esplanade and Snook Inn. Shifflett predicts there will be many couples on the starlight cruise, looking for a unique romantic dining experience.
“People can get out at night. See the sights. See the lights,” Shifflett said. “When there is a full moon, it’s a wonderful time. It’s very romantic.”
There has not been a starlight cruising yet due to the recency of the attraction, but judging from the interest of patrons on the sunset cruise, it will be sailing soon.
Recently engaged Naples couples, Michael Graczyk and Harley Postlewait, are having their wedding reception on the Marco Princess. They took the sunset cruise on Saturday to see the route it takes. Both agreed the starlight cruise’s later sailing is the right time for a romantic dinner.
“It’s darker and you’re out on the water at night,” Postlewait said. “It’s much more romantic than the 5 p.m.”
Joan Morgan and Ken Cunningham are also engaged. The pair slipped out for a date night on Saturday. Sitting in a corner booth and enjoying cocktails, they agreed a starlight cruise would be a good idea on their next date night.
“We would absolutely love to go on a twilight cruise,” Cunningham said. “It’s a unique way to have dinner and see the sights.”
If you go
951 Bald Eagle Drive, Rose Marco River Marina
Noon lunch cruise, 5 p.m. sunset dinner cruise, 8:15 p.m. starlight dinner cruise