Coast’s newest attraction has maiden voyage tonight

The Betsy Ann, a stern-driven paddlewheeler now moored at Point Cadet Marina, makes it maiden voyage this evening at 6, and owner Michael White says he believes it’s going to be as popular as his Lucky Duck amphibious cruises that were offered before Hurricane Katrina decimated the Coast.

White had begun offering sightseeing tours on the bulky “amphibious tour bus” on Point Cadet 11 months before Katrina, but had to give up the business 18 months after the 2005 storm.

“I held on hoping things would come back quicker,” White said, “but I had to pay bills, so I sold it and it’s in Miami now.

“But I was talking to J.J. Pierotich down at Sharkheads souvenir shop, and he said the Coast was back.  It was time for me to bring back the Lucky Duck. Well, I looked around, and I came across the Betsy Ann, and I figured that this was something that Biloxi needed and would do well.”

The Betsy Ann is a vessel that measures 89-feet overall – 65 feet at the waterline – and has a capacity of 150 people.

“It’s an authentic paddlewheeler,” said White, a resident of Diamondhead. “We’re going to have a two-hour trip, leaving from Point Cadet, right there between the Golden Nugget and Margaritaville, and we’re going to head west to the Biloxi channel. If it’s a sunset cruise, we’ll just keep moving along the waterfront, enjoying the unobstructed views.”

The plan is to have dinner cruises on weekends, and also offer sightseeing excursions.  For instance, on Saturday, the schedule is 1 to 3 p.m. and 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. for sightseeing. As time goes by and warmer temperatures arrive, White hopes to add weekdays cruises.

The price? Tonight’s dinner cruise – with a meal of garlic- and parmesan-crusted pork loin, shrimp and sausage jambalaya and potatoes, grilled asparagus, salad and desert – is $45 a person, with discounts for military, seniors and children.

The sightseeing cruises have a $22 price, with discounts for military, seniors and children. Online reservations will be available from the Betsy Ann’s website beginning Monday, but those wishing to book a cruise this weekend can call 228-229-4270.
See the Betsy Ann website


News and notes: City Desk, weekend preview, Senior Olympics

History of Biloxi: In this week’s City Desk podcast, Biloxi Historical Administrator Bill Raymond has the backstory on the new Visitors Center documentary, “History of Biloxi,” which has its premiere next week. To listen to the program, recorded this morning at City Hall, click here.

Weekend preview: Engelbert Humperdinck has a two-night engagement at the Beau Rivage,  Jeff Foxworthy is at the IP, and Smash Mouth performs at the Hard Rock. To see details on these shows and the entire weekend lineup, click here.

Senior Olympics registration:  Registration is now open for the 2018 Mississippi Senior Olympics, which take place along the Mississippi Gulf Coast April 4 through May 25.  Adults age 50 and older may register for one or more of the events by clicking here