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AJKMOM
03-27-2011, 12:16 PM
Anyone here at the DIS ever done a "swim with the manatees" tour at Crystal River or Homasassa Springs? There are several companies that offer this, but I would love a personal recommendation. Going at the beginning of May, so I don't think the Atlantic Ocean area is an option.

Thanks. :banana:

AJKMOM
03-28-2011, 11:18 PM
Anyone?

wtpfan
03-30-2011, 02:14 PM
We just came back and did the tour with floridamanateetours.com. We went Mar 18. They are located behind the Days Inn. We had a lot of fun...The only thing we were disappointed in was that the water was not very clear. I think we were expecting it to be more tropical.:confused3 I would definitely recommend this company. You can leave early mornign (7:00?) or 11:00 (that's when we got there; you end up in the boat about 12:00 by the time you get your gear and watch the video). Have fun!

loveysbydesign
03-31-2011, 09:12 AM
We are planning to go in October and got our tix. for half price at half off depot orlando.com. http://halfoffdepot.com/orlando/native-vacations.html
It is through Native Vacations and they have 5 out of 5 for their ranking on tripadvisor.com!
http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g34162-d1464860-r94371331-Native_Vacations_Inc-Crystal_River_Florida.html
We are so excited to be going...it is a surprise for the kids!

wolf29
04-06-2011, 12:47 PM
Would like to hear a bit more feedback from those of you that have done the tours...any company that you would/would not recommend?

AJKMOM
04-09-2011, 11:01 PM
Thanks for the links. :banana:

AJKMOM
04-13-2011, 01:27 PM
Would like to hear a bit more feedback from those of you that have done the tours...any company that you would/would not recommend?

There are quite a few reviews on TripAdvisor.com. Seem to like Native Vacations, Snorkel with Manatees, and Manatees in Paradise the best.

bankr63
04-13-2011, 05:33 PM
Please, just be sure that you follow these rules when swimming with Manatees:

Q. As a diver, I think the best way for people to appreciate manatees is to see them up close and personal. Itís a way to get people interested in helping them.
A. Save the Manatee Club is not opposed to people being in the water when manatees are present. However, we are concerned about people interacting with manatees. Interactions include:

touching manatees
riding them
poking them
feeding manatees or giving them water
any actions that might separate a mother and calf
chasing manatees
surrounding them


Q. Is it against the law to touch manatees?
A. All of the forms of interactions listed above may be considered harassment under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Manatees are an endangered species, protected under the federal Endangered Species and Marine Mammal Protection Acts and the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act. Conviction on the federal level is punishable by a fine of up to $100,000 and/or one year in prison. Anyone convicted of violating the state law faces a possible maximum fine of $500 and/or imprisonment for up to 60 days. The state of Florida can also pursue prosecution under federal law. Even more important than breaking the law is that human interactions with manatees can cause harm. Manatees can be observed without violating the provisions of these laws.
excerpted from:
http://www.savethemanatee.org/Tips.htm

These lovely creatures are becoming increasingly endangered. I prefer the way that Blue Springs State Park handles it. They have excellent viewing areas all along the spring, but do not allow swimming in the spring when the manatee are present.

Anc96
08-07-2011, 09:40 AM
For anyone interested in swimming with the manatee, do it!
We just did it yesterday, and can easliy say it was the best experience of our vacation this time, or anytime!

We used Fun 2 Dive Scuba. They also got excellent ratings on tripadvisor. I chose them because of the small group sizes, and all inclusive. They also keep you out longer.

Captain Joe, of Fun 2 Dive Scuba, was booked, so he referred us to Captain Bill (shown on his website). Captain Joe said Captain Bill no longer works for him, but has his own tour, which he highly recommends since it's exactly the same as his. When we got there, Captain Bill was using a Fun 2 Dive boat too, so I would kind of call them the same company.

Captain Bill was Excellent!! Very informative! We had a group of 6. A mom, her 2 kids (about 11 ish, and 15ish), and their grandmother, myself and my daughter (14). We pulled out before 9:30 (after confirmation that we all watched the safety video and additional instructions of "passive" interaction with the manatee).
We had a couple of encounters with manatee, we snorkeled and swam with them. Captain Bill wasn't satisfied that those particular manatee wanted to interact with us (you are instructed not to approach them at all, just to float near them and wait to see if they want to interact with you)... so we were going to search in other areas, but the grandmother in the group, who was quite elderly, wasn't handling the heat very well at all. We needed to take her back, so we headed back in. By now it was near 2:00pm and I know my daughter was a bit disappointed, but she really liked the grandmother and she too was concerned for her. The other children of course were disappointed too. But, Captain Bill dropped off the family at the dock and took me and my daughter back out again! I did feel bad for the other kids though.
He found a mom and her calf, and we went to swim with them. They did want to interact, and my daughter was in heaven! The manatee seemed to really enjoy our company, just the 3 of us (Captain Bill was right in there with us) floating around them. We were in the water with them well over an hour! My daughter got to pet them, even though at times it seemed like they were petting her..lol, and even I touched them a few times (I appreciated them, am amazed by them, but touching them wasn't something I thought I'd want to do.. I'm a bit wimpy). After a very loud shrimp boat started up near us, and, there was quite a lot of lighting and thunder starting up, not to mention the fact we were pretty cold!... we finally got back into the boat and headed back in. We got back to the dock at just after 4pm!

This company is known for not rushing anything.. and they don't. Captain Bill was full of information and advice. He was very patient, encouraging, and wonderful with my daughter, and the other kids too when they were still on the boat. We had a great time talking with him and snorkeling with him. This was our first time snorkeling too.

This company costs more than the others, but for what you get, and the small group sizes, it is SO worth it! Worth the 2 hour trip from Orlando too!
This is now on our vacation list of things to do every year.

My daughter being a typical teenager is not easily impressed at all these days, but she couldn't stop talking about this experience, and she thanked me a trillion times so far for taking her.

This is a long post/review, but I can't say enough about it. These creatures are truly incredible... so huge, and so gentle. To swim with them was amazing... Captain Bill obviously has so much caring and respect for them, and he passes that on to his passengers in a wonderful learing experience.

speakupjc
08-07-2011, 01:56 PM
We highly recommend Native Vacations. We did a private tour. It was great! The boat captain kept looking for manatees that would interact with us until she found some. We even got to view a one week old manatee and its mom. This is extremely rare so we were thrilled to have seen this. This was the experience of a lifetime and we are booked again for this November. Native Vacations is #1 on trip advisor for a reason which in my opinion includes the personal attention you receive. She has thought of everything in fact she even has underwater cameras for rent plus she provided snacks and sodas for us.

wolf29
08-08-2011, 11:11 AM
We will be going to Crystal River on our trip later this month. We have reservations with "Snorkel With Manatees" for 7:30 one morning and are super-excited. The company is highly recommended by Trip Advisor members and we were able to book through Groupon at a discount.

Judyat
08-08-2011, 11:34 AM
Eversave.com/Orlando has a half price special for a few days through Native vacations. Looks like a great deal for swimming with the manatee. We are going in December. I'm wondering if it would be too cold to do this then. They do mention giving you wet suits.

loveysbydesign
08-08-2011, 11:57 AM
Eversave.com/Orlando has a half price special for a few days through Native vacations. Looks like a great deal for swimming with the manatee. We are going in December. I'm wondering if it would be too cold to do this then. They do mention giving you wet suits.

We got ours half price for Native Vacation through halfoff depot orlando!:goodvibes

cantwait101
08-09-2011, 04:17 PM
Thanks for sharing everyone! This is great information!:thumbsup2