My husband Bill and I just came home from our very first trip to Key West, Florida. It was our first real trip to Florida for vacation purposes and we had high hopes for a great time. As it turned out, we did have a lot of fun in Key West. One of the most entertaining activities we enjoyed over our Labor Day weekend trip was taking a gourmet sunset dinner cruise through DreamChaser Charters, Inc.
Truth be told, I had to sell Bill on the idea, which was presented to us a week prior to our arrival in Key West. The concierge at the Mermaid and the Alligator, the guesthouse where we stayed, sent us an email with some suggested activities. The dinner cruise, which takes no more than six people per evening, costs $82 per person. I think Bill initially balked because of the cost, but then I reminded him that we could easily spend just as much money at a land based restaurant. And on the DreamChaser, we’d have the benefit of some gorgeous views of the water and perhaps some good company. After a little coaxing, Bill finally said yes and the concierge booked us.
What do you get for $82 a head?
The DreamChaser dinner cruise is all inclusive. You get a three hour cruise, music, a four course meal, and beverages. All the while, Captain Ken is driving the boat and offering lively conversation while his lovely wife, Kathy, cooks and serves the food. Main course selections for our cruise included steak, barbecued baby back ribs, grilled chicken, or a seafood combo. You must choose what you want in advance of your cruise, since Ken and Kathy have to purchase the food ahead of time. Bill and I chose the seafood combo, which on the night we cruised, consisted of grilled lobster and hogfish.
We showed up at the harbor in Key West at about 5:30pm. After calling Kathy for more specific directions, we found the DreamChaser docked and ready to receive us. The DreamChaser is a 43 foot Trimaran, low and wide, with seating for up to six people. Kathy was very casual yet warm as she welcomed us aboard. Captain Ken sat at the helm and invited us to take off our shoes while we waited for one other couple to arrive. A third couple was also supposed to be cruising with us, but they apparently had to cancel because one of them had an unfortunate mishap with one of Key West’s many mopeds.
The other couple, Gary and Jen, turned out to be a bit younger than Bill and me, but we got along just fine. Bill is in the Army and Gary is in the Air Force, so there was plenty to talk about. Kathy invited us to sit outside while she cooked dinner. The weather was perfect and the setting was so relaxing and casual. We munched on our first course, shrimp cocktail and conch fritters, while Captain Ken drove us a couple of miles into the Gulf of Mexico. Kathy encouraged us to stand on the bow of the boat and look at the gorgeous clear green water as we ventured deeper into the Gulf.
The conversation flowed easily over chardonnay and salads while Ken told us a little bit about the area we were visiting. My salad consisted of lettuce, peppers, cheese, and tomatoes and was topped with a sweet mango poppyseed dressing. Kathy had thoughtfully served the dressing on the side. I decided to eat only half because I wanted to make sure I had room for the main course. I got a charge out of watching the seagulls enjoy my leftovers.
All four of us chose the seafood combo as our main course. We chatted more about religion and politics as Ken grilled the fish and lobster on the stern. In the course of the evening, Ken and Kathy told us about how they ended up in the charter business, living on the DreamChaser and offering tourists cruises and unforgettable meals. Captain Ken revealed a delightfully droll sense of humor, while his wife was very kind and eager to please.
The main course of lobster and hogfish was served with rice, grilled vegetables, and a slice of bread. All four of us cruisers unanimously declared the meal a big hit. Bill particularly enjoyed the hogfish, which he had never had before. He was still raving about it well after we were back on dry land.
Captain Ken stopped the boat on the way into Key West so we could get some pictures of the fantastic sunset. While we were enjoying the views, Kathy brought out some delicious creamy Key Lime pie with a graham cracker crust. It was light, refreshing, and the perfect ending to a memorable meal.
We hated to leave…
We got back to the harbor at around 9:00pm and things were in full swing on shore. We saw several very large “party boats” heading back toward the dock, complete with crowds, cash bars, and very loud music. Kathy commented that she’d seen a lot of elderly folks take those cruises and end up very eager to get off the boat by the end of the cruise. DreamChaser’s dinner cruise, by contrast, was very peaceful and serene. By the end of our cruise, I felt like Bill and I had also gotten a lot for our money. We were still marveling about the experience as we walked back to our guesthouse.
If you go…
* Be sure to book the trip several days in advance. Ken and Kathy only take six people per dinner cruise and they need to know who’s going and what kind of food to buy.
* The DreamChaser cruise is very casual. There’s absolutely no need to dress up, though you might want to wear sunscreen.
* If you think you might have trouble with motion sickness, let Kathy know. Or, you can do what Bill and I did and take a Bonine pill before boarding.
* Chances are excellent that you’ll be able to walk to the harbor if you’re staying near Key West’s Old Town.
* Payment is expected at the end of the cruise. Visa and Mastercard are happily accepted.
Ken and Kathy also book private dinner cruises for two people. The cost is $350. Besides dinner cruises, DreamChaser Charters also offer snorkeling trips, weddings at sea, and day cruises. Captain Ken remarked during our cruise that he’s done a lot of marrying and burying in his day. If you have an idea, let Kathy know. I bet they’ll be able to hook you up. As a matter of fact, the DreamChaser dinner cruise is also a great place to pop the proverbial question.
I highly recommend DreamChaser Charters for dinner cruises in Key West. The food is great; the views are stunning; and the company is unforgettable.
For more information
Visit http://dreamchasercharters.com/ or call 305-292-8667.