on June 23, 2011
We booked this cruise on-line - a fully narrated, bilingual sightseeing cruise along Biscayne Bay and around Star Island. During the 90 minutes onboard, you get to see Miami's spectacular coastal sights, including the Downtown skyline, the Port of Miami, Fisher Island and Millionaire's Row - homes of the rich and famous.The yacht was very modern and had the capacity to take up to 140 passengers. There was an air-conditioned lower area with picture windows and an upper deck which was open-air.Island Queen Cruises is inside Bayside Marketplace - through the main entrace and straight towards the water. The ticket booth is near the music stage in the centre of the mall, next to a 16 foot hanging shark. You need to arrive about half an hour before your departure time to collect your boarding pass.Cruises start at 10:30 and leave every hour after that. We took the cruise at 1:00, having first had lunch at Bayside Marketplace. You can buy light snacks and beverages on board, but there is a limited selection.We sat initially on the top deck - open-air, but with a roof, so you got some respite from the hot sun. Arrive early, most people do, and the seats by the windows get taken quickly. The guide was very good and switched easily between English and Spanish.We saw the beautiful Miami skyline - voted by architects as third best in the USA, after New York and Chicago. We sailed past Fisher Island - apparently one of the most expensive zipcodes in the USA and where people such as Boris Becker, Oprah Winfrey and Julia Roberts have homes. The island is very private, only accessible by boat and you don't get great views of it really.Crusing around Star Island was the highlight of this excursion. The boat sails very slowly past the beautiful houses on Millionaire's Row and the guide tells you information about each property and to whom it belongs. You get a great view of the beautiful gardens and luxurious properties. Amongst the houses we saw, were those belonging to Gloria Estefan, Sylvester Stallone, Julio Iglesias and Puff Daddy. We also saw the boathouse where Al Capone's driver lived. Elizabeth Taylor's former home stood out, but interestingly she had a rabbit statue in the garden - to symbolise how she jumped from one marriage to another!The houses are on the left hand side of the boat. Everyone on the top deck rushed to this area, we went downstairs and were pleasantly surprised to find we were virtually the only people to do this. There is an area at the front of the boat which is open-air, so we had a wonderful view without crowds of people in front of us, and we could move around.The cruise is really interesting as well as being a fun thing to do. You get some lovely views of Miami from the water, and see the homes of the stars as well.
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