98, Day 1
Caribiana Island Cruises
NOTE: Former T.V. producer Joanne McDonough and her videographer husband
Lynn Rabren of Orange Beach, Alabama, live their dreams by conducting
private nature tours for visitors to the Gulf Shores area and by selling
their custom-built Caribiana boats as fast as they can build them. This
week, we'll talk to Joanne and learn how they've started their businesses,
why they've chosen to design and build their own boats, and what passengers
can expect to see and do on their island cruises.
Question: What is a Caribiana Island Cruise?
Answer: Caribiana Island Cruises focus on the beauty and wonderment
of nature here in the Orange Beach/Gulf Shores, Alabama, part of the South.
We encourage our passengers to learn about and interact with the various
natural habitats, birds, fish, reptiles and sand island crustaceans. We
also explore the many diverse locations we have here and encourage people
to learn about the make-up of these ecosystems and their importance to
Question: What will visitors learn on a Caribiana
Answer: They'll learn about the many species that live in our sand
island community. We like to focus on the great blue herons and the egrets
and share how the sand islands have been formed and their purposes.
What else can people do on a Caribiana cruise?
Answer: We have an assortment of tools for the naturalists, and
we always carry binoculars for the children and adults to use. We also
have a discovery box onboard. If we're unable to see a variety of species
along the beaches -- depending on the tidal flow -- we have representations
of those creatures in the box for the children to investigate. I also
bring natural guide books, birding books and a magnifying glass with me.
Question: How long do your tours last?
Answer: The tours are a minimum of 1 hour, but I've had people
stay on board for 5 hours. Walk-on tours depart from Tacky Jack's -- a
popular waterfront breakfast spot in Orange Beach -- -- Friday through
Sunday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Private tours are by reservation only and
are charged by the hour.
Question: How much is the tour per hour?
Answer: We charge $75 for the first hour and $60 for each hour
after that -- but that's not a per-person charge. Walk-on tours are $5
per adult and no cost for the kids.
Passengers brings their own food if they want to eat, right?
Answer: Yes, we have a cooler onboard with water. However, if people
want to bring their own coolers with food and/or drinks, that's fine with
us. We also can prepare food for our passengers if they like. We also
can provide lunch boxes or snacks for the children.
Question: Tell us about one of your best tours.
Answer: I really enjoy cruises where the passengers have fun with
nature. I started out one morning with a family with three children. They
loved taking the naturalist tours and using the binoculars and the magnifying
scopes. The kids especially enjoyed foraging on the beach and finding
crabs and shells. Then later that same day, I did an anniversary cruise
for a couple's 50th anniversary. We served them a three-course meal, and
they said the atmosphere of the cruise and eating aboard the boat made
them feel so young and so romantic. That's the kind of diversity we get
on our cruises -- from children of all ages to scientists to groups of
birders. We cater to every walk of life.
Question: Can people tell you what they'd like
to see or do on a cruise?
Answer: Sure. We love personalizing the cruises and focusing on
the things in which our passengers are the most interested. If they want
to learn about nesting birds, we have a variety of locations to view everything
from wading birds to peregrine falcons to raptors. If a group is interested
in marine life, we can go to the feeding grounds of the bottle-nosed dolphins
or see the turtle grass habitats of blue crabs, stone crabs and hermit
crabs. We've even had couples who want to cruise around the islands and
go house shopping. We try to serve people and let them decide what they
want to do instead of making them do what the tours dictate.
You also have the information on Caribiana's tours on your webpage, right?
Answer: Yes. There's an island cruise section on our website so
people can see what the tours are and how much they are.
For more information about Caribiana, visit the website
at www.caribiana.com, or, call
(888) 203-4883 or (334) 981-4442.
To learn more about the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach area
-- restaurants, attractions, birding opportunities, hotels, condos, fishing
captains -- call the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau
(AGCCVB) at (800) 745-7263, or visit the website at www.gulfshores.com.
TOMORROW: How Caribiana Island Cruises Began