Ship Island Excursions sets sail

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Hundreds of folks poured into the Gulfport harbor for the first Ship Island excursion of the 2011 season. The island ferry resumed it's services Saturday morning.

After the oil spill cost Ship Island Excursions more than half of their business last summer, the crowded dock was a welcome sight. It's also a sign that summer business could be booming this year.

"Things are good. Things are safe. It's green lights all around," said Steven Skrmetta with Ship Island Excursions. "Park service has the islands clean. BP has our beaches and our islands clean."

Nearly a year after tar balls covered the sands of Ship Island bringing island visits to a standstill more than 300 visitors lined up bright and early for the first day of 85th season for the Ship Island Excursions.

"People can't wait to get out this time of year. They've been cooped up all winter, and it's beautiful weather now," Capt. Peter Skrmetta said.

Not all of the people waiting in line were going to enjoy the beaches.

John Tucker Jr. said, "I'm riding the boat to see the porpoises."

Ship Island Excursions delayed their opening for one month to help cut expenses. The family owned business is still recovering from the strain of the oil spill, but that doesn't slow their optimism for the coming season.

"We're looking for a good summer, weather's good. We've got a lot of positive energy here in the harbor. Even though it's not finished; it's got a lot of progress," Steven Skrmetta said. "The hotels are ready for business. The beaches are clean. Everything is very positive."

Despite lingering concerns about the after-affects of the spill, the crews that are out on the water every day want visitors to know that all is well.

"It's beautiful out there. Man hasn't destroyed them yet. No one lives there, and the park service is doing a great job of protecting the islands," Capt. Peter Skrmetta said.

"I think everyone should take a ride out to the islands," John Tucker Jr. said.

Right now Ship Island Excursions is running on its springs schedule with trips running Wednesday through Sunday.

For a full schedule click HERE.

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