Set sail on the St. John’s River for a night of fine food and scenic sunset river views. You’ll board in downtown Jacksonville at 6:30 p.m. on your chosen evening, and settle into the luxury liner’s digs before the ship departs around 7 p.m. Amuse your bouche with butler-passed appetizers before conquering the full prime-rib dinner buffet, complete with decadent dessert offerings. The friendly and courteous on-ship staff will be on hand throughout the evening to refill your wine glass and ensure your cruise is the picture of river-boating elegance.
Freedom Boat Club first set sail in 1989 from a single site in Sarasota, Florida, and today, has grown to 60 locations throughout the United States. A simple alternative to boat ownership, the club grants its members access to a large fleet of vessels while eliminating boating's many hassles, such as cleaning, storage, and purchasing the naming rights to S.S. Minnow. At each club location, members have fully fueled deck boats, fishing boats, pontoons, and cruisers at their disposal, which they may utilize for any number of adventures. They can simply cruise around local waters, coast to entertainment destinations, or plan snorkeling, scuba diving, and fishing trips with groups of friends.
Named after its 2003 42-foot Manta catamaran, Now and Zen Charters whisks its guests on day cruises and sailing vacations at several scenic Florida sites. While cruising the waters around Miami and Biscayne Bay, clients take advantage of luxurious onboard amenities both inside and in the open air. Be they seated on the trampolines, bow seats, in the salon, or in the sling seat, they enjoy an easy ride thanks to a sturdy 21-foot beam while listening to tunes on a four-speaker stereo system.
St. Augustine Sailing releases people from their landlocked state of mind, allowing them to go nautical with captained sailing charters around the iceberg-infested Intracoastal Waterway and the St. Augustine inlet. Celebrate a late Valentine's Day with the object of your affections, or gather three friends and enjoy a private water ride on a modern sea car. Charter sailboats available with this Groupon include vessels such as the Hunter 36 and the Hunter 33, which are outfitted with comfy seating, luxurious amenities, and Captain Ahab. If you need more than four to keep your float session fun, upgrade to a group of five or six for an additional fee of $45 per adult or $30 per child (ages 3-12). Children under age 3 are free. Sailors can bring along their own seafaring fare and libations, including alcoholic beverages, or avail themselves of the two harbor restaurants that will cheerfully cook up charter cuisine if notified in advance.
From their dock on Amelia Island, Windward Sailing's US Coast Guard captains float out into the Cumberland Sound, where dolphins, manatees, and sea turtles swim alongside the boat's speeding hull. As these tours progress, the captain turns passengers' attention to the wild horses that gallop across the banks of Cumberland Island.
Though these tours introduce customers to the thrill of sailing, it's Windward Sailing's school that transforms the sport into a lifelong passion. In classrooms and on boats, instructors teach students to cruise local waters and prepare them for American Sailing Association exams. Depending on the course, instructors might teach fledgling captains to sail in light to moderate winds or navigate using nothing but constellations and the giant map NASA inscribed on the moon.
Captain Kevin and Cecilia McCarthy have always been fond of the sea. Born and raised in the port town of Gloucester, Massachusetts, Kevin sojourned south in 1968 before meeting his wife Cecilia, whose family had arrived on the marshy shores of Fernandina nine generations ago. After Kevin worked as a building contractor for nearly 30 years, he and Cecilia opted to embrace their shared love for being on the water, and founded Amelia River Cruises in the summer of 2000. Twelve years later, their fleet is three U.S. Coast Guard–inspected boats strong, and each cruises steadily along myriad tours of Cumberland Island, Beach Creek, and the shores of Amelia Island. History buffs rejoice in narrated jaunts down the Intracoastal Waterway that lead to the Kingsley Plantation—whose 1797 establishment makes it the oldest surviving plantation house in Florida—before traveling to the historic Fort Caroline National Memorial, one of the first permanent settlements in North America. Two-hour eco tours journey through state parks and aquatic preserves, where hands-on shrimping experiences let guests identify their captured creatures before asking them the current exchange rate of a sand dollar and releasing them back into the wild. The local and surrounding ecosystem, with diverse wildlife that appears most prominently during the summer months, boasts playful pods of dolphins, an abundance of shore birds, and sea turtles who visit to nest on nearby island shores.