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The entire sky along Florida's Space Coast is like one giant movie screen, regularly showing the story of rockets—some manned, some unmanned, others guided entirely by dreams. They launch gracefully towards the heavens, where they break through Earth's atmosphere and float out beyond it. It's a mesmerizing display, one that serves as the focal point for Space Coast River Tours's Rocket Tour. The Blue Dolphin, the company's 44-foot USCG-certified pontoon river boat, serves as the tour's mode of transportation. Its retractable roof pulls back to reveal unobstructed views of the sky above for all of its 49 passengers.
Captains Mark and Michele Anderson, who are both certified by the U.S. Coast Guard, have plenty to explore even when rockets aren't taking flight. Specialty tours are available at an additional cost. During the holidays, they show passengers the lights and decorations along residential canals in Sykes Creek, handing out some egg nog or hot cocoa to complete the experience. The Banana River Lagoon Tour, meanwhile, remains a daily feature. For two hours, the boat tours the Banana River and floats into the habitats of the area's many birds, dolphins, manatees, and gators.
One of the toughest parts of fishing is finding your prey beneath the water's surface. To remedy this age-old difficulty, Ofishal Business Charters equips both its vessels with electronic fish-finding systems, which digitally scan the water for fish and vacationing Loch Ness monsters. Steered by one of the company's two captains, both vessels can ferry passengers on searches for mahi-mahi and snapper in offshore waters, or the yellowfin tuna and blue marlin that make their seaweed-roofed houses on the other side of the Gulf Stream. Boats can also chart courses to the Bahamas on specialty trips, while passengers gaze out at scenic views dotted with dolphins, sea turtles and other wildlife.
For their chartered journeys, guests can choose from two vessels. Aboard the 40-foot Black Watch boat, passengers can watch an LCD TV in the air-conditioned salon or snack on eats from the full galley. Alternatively, passengers can survey their surroundings atop the marlin tower of the more compact 32-foot Stuart Angler, whose Sony Marine stereo lets voyagers blast their own soundtracks.
Manned by a Coast Guard-certified crew, a 65-foot speedboat safely whisks passengers along the beaches of Cape Canaveral during 90-minute dolphin-watching tours. The captain pulls off wave-skirting maneuvers, pausing to point out the playful sea mammals, who enjoy swimming, jumping, and high-fiving in the wake of the boat. Flying fish may whiz by the stern, and sea turtles have been known to lazily approach the hull of the docked watercraft. The captain also discusses Port Canaveral's history as passengers snap photos of military ships and submarines in port.
Sister ships Orlando Princess and Canaveral Star II disembark from Cape Canaveral for daily fishing trips. The 80- and 85-foot vessels set sail with an experienced crewmember and soon-to-be seafarers equipped with fishing licenses, rods, reels, tackle, and bait. Full- and half-day excursions let fisherpeople hunt for mangrove snapper, grouper, and sea bass, and nighttime shark-fishing trips give them the opportunity to seek out bigger game. After catching a respectable haul, patrons can relax on the sun deck or in air-conditioned cabins and indulge in included hot meals. They'll also get unlimited beer or soda that tastes better than seawater, which is mostly made up of mermaid spit.