Ship Island Excursions Ventures Out In Coast Waters For 82nd Year

GULFPORT (WLOX) -- It's a site familiar to anyone who has spent time at the Gulfport Harbor, the Ship Island Excursion boat pulling in with a load of people.

Since 1926 , the Skrmetta family has been taking people out to Ship Island. But Saturday's trip was a first for the Handley family from Long Beach. They moved to the Friendly City from Iowa, after Katrina and say they enjoyed the voyage to one of Mississippi's most popular barrier islands.

"I think it's ferry comforting. It's great to get away from snow," Cole Handley said.

Tanned and refreshed from the day's excursion, many people on the ship were just glad to get away and enjoy the beautiful weather.

The ship made its first trip out to the Island Friday and Captain Louis Skrmetta said it looks like things are off to a good start.

"Good season. things are starting out very positive this year. We had a very slow season after the hurricane, were struggling, but this year looks great. Our business was really up yesterday," Captain Skrmetta said.

Two-hundred people ventured out to Ship Island Friday. About 300 took the voyage Saturday.

Captain Skrmetta said there are new amenities on the island to enjoy, including a new snack bar.

"We've got more shade for them. We've got a hundred beach chair umbrellas set up for them this year. They have shower facilities up, conventional restroom facilities, no longer the port-o-lets. Park service has the park service has the Fort reopened it looks great. We give them free tours everyday," Captain Skrmetta said.

With all the recent additions to Ship Island Excursions, this tourism season looks to be a bright one for the Gulfport business.

To find out more about Ship Island Excursions, go to