St. Johns River Cruises

June 22, 2016
Alligator Gar - St Johns

Florida SEE Platinum Certified

About St Johns River Cruises:
Considered one of the most popular nature oriented tours in Florida, their vessel, the “Native II” was specially designed to ply the shallow backwaters of the St Johns River to allow visitors to hear the sounds of nature as they encounter native wildlife in this fragile ecosystem. They provide high-quality, relaxing, educational tours led by experienced naturalists who detail the rich cultural history of the native Americans, early pioneers and steamboat culture of the river. The pristine landscape is ripe for interpretation as it is home to manatee, alligators, turtles and dozens of species of birds as well as other wildlife. Conveniently located between Orlando and Daytona, St Johns River Cruises provides nature cruises, guided kayak tours, and canoe & kayak rentals at Blue Springs State Park. Captain Ron Woxberg and his family moved into the St. Johns River basin area in 1979 and "quickly realized this stretch of river from Lake Harney to Lake George was very unique." He enjoys, boating, fishing and camping, and is proud to share it with the endless stream of visitors that feel a need to experience and connect with the more "natural" side of Florida.

St Johns River Cruises SEE Certification:
St Johns River Cruises becomes the fourth Ecotour Operator to be certified through the Florida SEE certification program and received Platinum designation for meeting over 90% of the BONUS criteria on the Certification Checklist. They provide quality ecological interpretation that does not disrupt wildlife and work in partnership with the Blue Springs State Park to provide ongoing contributions to conservation.

Highlights of the St Johns River Cruises Certification:
Blue Springs State Park is a sight in itself. The titular attraction is a deep sinkhole that provides swimming and scuba recreational opportunities. An oak-shaded boardwalk follows the river and leads to the docks where guests check in and arrange for their boat or kayak tours. St. Johns River Cruises was visited twice by a Florida SEE Assessor. Both visits assessed the pontoon boat cruise.

The captain and guide had us board the Native II, a comfortable and spacious pontoon with an excellent PA system. Having a stroller with us, the captain pointed out that they have a lift for wheelchairs and a row specifically suited for them and strollers. She introduced herself to the group, offered the necessary Coast guard safety information, including the location of emergency numbers, fire extinguishers and life jackets and off we went.

The captain explained that we would head up river and offered a synopsis of what we could expect on the tour. She offered snacks and beverages and requested that all garbage and recyclables be placed in bins where it could be taken care of later.

As we passed the kayak tour we slowed and watched an alligator swim in front of our boat. The kayak tour guide explained alligator safety tips (no feeding or harassing) and suggested the alligator was simply defending its territory. They paddled on and the alligator went about its business.

We stopped several times over the course of the 2-hour tour. The guide provided moments of quiet and opportunities to take photos of several different species of birds. The history of the steamship era unique to rivers such as the St. Johns was very interesting.

Back on land the Florida SEE Assessor had the opportunity to talk at length with the owner Ron Woxberg who explained the importance of the partnership he has with the State Park and its staff. They work with student groups, help with river clean ups, provide research data as well as offer their boats for various projects. They run an impressive operation. Congratulations to St. Johns River Cruises as the latest SEE Certified Ecotour Operator.

Cruising on the St. Johns River
Cruising on the St. Johns River
Cruise the St. Johns River on a River Ship
Cruise the St. Johns River on a River Ship
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