Port of Brownsville Fiesta Cruise with Osprey Cruises

It was a while coming but I finally got to go on the Port of Brownsville Fiesta Cruise with Osprey Cruises. I purchased my ticket at the Winter Texan Expo in McAllen way back in January 2020, then everything came to a screeching halt that March. The cruise finally started operating again earlier this year. I watched the weather for what I hoped would be a beautiful day and made a reservation. I was rewarded with an almost perfect day of blue skies, warm but not too hot temperatures, and a mild breeze.

Shrimp boat in Port of Brownsville

Osprey Cruises

Osprey Cruises may be best known for their fishing trips, both deep sea and bay fishing, but their six boats offer a variety of options.

  • Deep sea and bay fishing
  • Dolphin watches
  • Sightseeing cruises
  • Eco tours
  • Fireworks cruises
  • Dinner cruises
  • Sunset cruises
  • Pirate ship adventures
  • Private charters

Osprey at the dock in Port Isabel

Port of Brownsville Fiesta Cruise

The seasonal Port of Brownsville Fiesta Cruise is a four-hour tour that takes you from the charming town of Port Isabel to the Port of Brownsville, the shrimp basin and back to Port Isabel.

The recently refurbished Osprey has lots of outdoor seating affording everyone on board great views. A full bar is located in the climate controlled cabin where you can also purchase sodas, water and snacks. It’s also the only place with padded seats!

Full bar available during the Port of Brownsville Fiesta CruiseThe captain and crew were fun and friendly. The crew was constantly busy making sure everyone was having a good time. I really appreciated the live narration from the captain, especially in the Port of Brownsville.

The Port of Brownsville Fiesta Cruise is a fun and fact-filled adventure. Click To Tweet
Departing Port Isabel on the Port of Brownsville tour

Departing Port Isabel

Cruising under the Queen Isabella Causeway

Cruising under the Queen Isabella Causeway

As we got further underway and there was a break in the narration, they announced that complimentary ceviche was available in the cabin.

Wine on the Port of Brownsville Fiesta Cruise
Dishing out complimentary ceviche
Complimentary ceviche on the Port of Brownsville Fiesta Cruise

Atlantic bottlenose dolphins followed the boat, riding the wake both at the bow and the stern. I have to admit that it was one of the highlights of the trip for me.

Dolphins following the Osprey

Dolphins following the Osprey

The Port of Brownsville

The Port of Brownsville, which opened in 1936, is a deepwater seaport at the southernmost tip of Texas. The port is connected to the Gulf of Mexico by a 17-mile-long ship channel. It serves South Texas and, via rail connections, much of northeast Mexico.

If you’ve been to a large harbor, you know they are rarely beautiful but often interesting. The Port of Brownsville definitely falls in this category. It is an extremely busy port that provides 51,000 jobs and $3 billion annual economic activity.

Ships are hauled out into drydock for repair, new ships are built here and some come to die here. The famous air craft carrier USS Kitty Hawk is on its way to the Port of Brownsville scrapyard. It was fascinating learning about the process of turning a giant ship into a pile of ground up metal.

Ship being dismantled for recycling

A ship that is being dismantled for recycling

Metal scrap pile Port of Brownsville

A pile of scrap metal that used to be part of a ship

Boat in dry dock

A shrimp boat in dry dock

Two new ships being built for a Hawaiian company

Port of BrownsvilleThe Brownsville Shrimp Basin, a dedicated harbor for shrimp boats, was constructed off the main channel in 1953. Although shrimping in South Texas has diminished from the most prosperous time of the 60s and 70s when the fleet had up to 450 boats, shrimp is still the most consumed seafood in the US. Sadly, 90% of the shrimp we eat today is imported. Fortunately for me, here in south Texas, wild-caught gulf shrimp is readily available.

Port of Brownsville Shrimp Basinshrimp boats in Port of Brownsville shrimp basinWhen we entered the shrimp basin, our captain pulled up next to a docked boat where he picked up some freshly cooked, wild-caught shrimp for us.

wild-caught gulf shrimp on the Port of Brownsville Fiesta Cruise

Returning to Port Isabel

On the ride back to Port Isabel, people visited with friends and took advantage of the bar for drinks and snacks. I enjoyed the beautiful day and the tranquility of the water. Would this excursion have been more fun if I had been with a friend? Possibly. Solo travel has its pros and cons. You can read about my thoughts on it in my post about dining solo on my birthday.

The Details

Osprey Cruises had a fire at their Pier 19 location so check in and departure are currently from the Black Dragon office at Pirate’s Landing in Port Isabel.

Black Dragon Cruises office

Check in for all Osprey Cruises is currently at the Black Dragon Cruises office in Port Isabel

This seasonal tour operates January through March historically on the following schedule:

  • Mon, Wed and Fri from 9-1 and 2-6
  • Tuesday and Thursday from 9-1

Price was discounted this year at $33. It is usually $40 and could increase next year.

Follow the Osprey Cruises Facebook page for up to date information on all their water adventures.

My Final Thoughts on the Port of Brownsville Fiesta Cruise

I love boating and being on the water so the Port of Brownsville Fiesta Cruise was an awesome excursion for me. Based on reactions I observed and bits of conversation I overheard, I think the men especially enjoyed and appreciated it.

I didn’t realize that this seasonal tour ended quite so early in the year. However, if you missed it, Osprey Cruises has many other options. I did the Black Dragon cruise a couple of years ago and I plan to do the eco tour some time soon. Maybe I’ll see you on the water!

photo of the bay, ceviche, a ship in dry dock and shrimp with text overlay: Port of Brownsville Fiesta Cruise
photos of shrimp, the bar, the boat at dock and ceviche with text overlay: Port of Brownsville Fiesta Cruise

Until next time…



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