With strokes of vivid shades of yellow, red, and orange, a beautiful canvas is painted across the Mississippi Gulf Coast skies. Every sunset is different but always beautiful. If you’re a fellow sunset chaser, then you simply must take a Sunset Cruise with the Ship Island Excursions out of Gulfport Harbor from March to November. There’s always a good time to be had on the two hour cruise. There are beautiful sights, fun music to keep the party going, and snacks and drinks for purchase.
We had the pleasure of cruising with Captain Louis Skrmetta, chief operating officer for the company, whose family has been transporting visitors to the Mississippi Islands for 96 years. After immigrating from Croatia in 1926, Peter Martin Skrmetta, “Captain Pete,” and family established their sea-faring business, today known as “Pan Isles, Inc.,” and haven’t looked back since. “The sea gets in your blood, and it’s been such a big part of our family,” Captain Louis Skrmetta said. “I really love it and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”
The Ship Island Excursions operates three U.S. Coast Guard licensed and inspected ferries including the 100’ Capt. Pete, the 115’ Gulf Islander, and the 65’ Pan American Clipper. Each ship features two decks for the sun-lovers, as well as decks for those enjoy the climate controlled cooler temperatures.
When you board the boat docked in the Jones Park Harbor, you’re always greeted with that legendary “Magnolia State” hospitality and a new adventure on the horizon. “It was such a fun, calming experience,” Donna Smith said of her first sunset cruise. “The crew and staff were so nice. I will definitely have to come back.”
As the sun starts to sink down into the Gulf Coast waters, a wonderous show begins across the sky. The streaks of yellow and orange begin to darken as the sun dips down and reflects on the Mississippi Sound. Each sunset is a magical experience to watch but even more so when you take in the view from the open waters. You’re surrounded by an exquisite mixture of sun, sea, and gentle breezes. It’s almost as if you’ve stepped into a beautiful artwork of Expressionistic artists, such as the legendary painter Claude Monet, as splashes of various gorgeous colors surround you.
If you’re lucky, you’ll be greeted by a few bottle-nosed dolphins that love to splash and follow in the ship’s wake, and you just might be fortunate enough to see a lovely sailor’s red sky. It is simply a stunning, breathtaking sight. These are the types of memories that you’ll cherish forever.
Captain Skrmetta’s love for the sea is so apparent as you see his peaceful face full of joy at the helm, but he admits that there might be even more that he loves about guiding the ship through the Gulf. “One of my favorite parts of all of our tours is meeting new friends and making sure that they have a good time,” Skrmetta said. “It really makes you feel good when you see all the smiles of our guests enjoying themselves.”
For more information on the Sunset Cruise or the Ship Island Excursions, check out their website at www.msshipisland.com.