Thunderstorms were on the forecast so we actually switched from a later time to an earlier one, because I really wanted to do this part our our aquarium visit. I always find the water scene to be so calming, whether it is just looking at ships (seeing Clippers is still on my bucket list), wildlife, or just the sky against the ocean. To see it on this catamaran, going out so much further than we could see with the naked eye from shore, was a really a nice way to spend a portion of our day.
On the flip side, if it's hot out (it wasn't when we went,, in fact the temperature was perfect!), the first floor is air conditioned. You'll also find two restrooms. If you're thirsty or want a snack, they are selling those things in this room too. We went in here just to hang out for a few minutes. I immediately missed being outside. I can see how this would be useful though, if the weather turned bad or the temperatures were one extreme or another on the other parts of the boats exposed to the elements.
As the shore kept getting further and further away, the anticipation around me grew. Everyone was looking carefully to try and spot dolphins in the wild. :) Still nothing at the half way point, but that was okay, I wasn't worried.
This pelican wasn't worried either. Nor was he a bit phased by people being in his water. We were all pretty happy to see him though. :)
And then we spotted the dolphins. If you look carefully you can see a fin in the right-ish upper corner of my photo. That was a mom and her calf. The Florida Aquarium is an active participant in the SMART program, and adheres to all state and federal protection laws. That meant we kept a safe distance. I had my camera on the largest zoom to try and get photos, but this was the only one I got that you could identify (if you look ever so carefully, lol). Everyone on the trip was so excited to watch them playing. I lived in Florida for 18 years before moving up north for a stretch, and have been back two years and have still never seen them in the wild, so for me it was extra exciting. A mom with her baby? Even more deeeeelightful.
After the sighting, we headed back towards the shore. We passed the same boats we saw leaving, and some new ones that had come in. We also got a better look at another cruise ship. It wasn't as big as the other Norwegian Dawn (seen in the first two pictures of this post) but it was still a beauty. :)
Probably the most impressive notation on the ride regarding war times though, at least for me, was the fact that this ship, The American Victory, is dry docked at the shore. It is only one of four WWII merchant steam ships left in the United States.
I was mesmerized by this ship. She didn't have a bad angle. She was almost as tall as the aquarium itself, which you can see standing behind it in the background. They do give tours of this ship, (completely separate from, and not a part of the museum).What a wonderful piece of history, right before our eyes. When we return to Tampa, this is on our agenda list. I do want to see it up close and personal.
The rain started as we got off of our Wild Dolphin Cruise, so it was a good thing we asked to change to an earlier time. We got a late lunch, inside of The Florida Aquarium, and then we headed out so the big kids could get ready for their concert later that evening. The whole visit was so good! The Extra Experience of the Wild Dolphin Cruise was definitely a huge highlight. If you get a chance to take the cruise, I recommend it. With approximately 500 dolphins in the bay, chances are high you're going to come across one or a few on your trip. :) Learn more by visiting the website. You can learn more about our aquarium trip by visiting my review here.