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.
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
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!
The 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
As we got further underway and there was a break in the narration, they announced that complimentary ceviche was available in the cabin.
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.
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.
The 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.
When 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.
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.
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.
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!
Until next time…