New owner revives Jupiter sightseeing cruise business

Looking for a cruise that lavishes you with the royal treatment? The Manatee Queen sightseeing tour boat might just be the ticket.

Troy Lowry, who took the failing business over in 2017, said the key to the new and improved Manatee Queen is service.

“We called every person who had a bad experience before, to try and figure out what went wrong,” he said. “People let us know they want to be treated in a classier way. So we reconstructed the whole business. We fixed up the entire boat, installed comfortable cushions on the seats, incorporated correct historical information into the tour, added food, soda, beer and wine options, put our captains and staff in professional shirts and even started a catering service. We’re the only boat out here that has a liquor license. We stepped up everything.”

The Manatee Queen has operated out of Jupiter since 1987, drawing thousands of guests a year and even celebrities like Perry Como and Burt Reynolds. Known back then for its one-hour history tours, it was a Jupiter staple for decades — until Mr. Lowry learned it had fallen on hard times and was on the verge of going out of business.

“That broke my heart, so I wanted to step in and try to fix the situation,” Mr. Lowry said. “I didn’t want to see it go down the tubes.”

He added a 34-foot catamaran that seats up to 24 guests for private charters, bachelorette parties and birthday parties to the existing 50-foot Dee Queen II, which comfortably accommodates up to 49 guests — and says he also can provide a 100-passenger boat, if your party so desires. The company operates six days a week providing sightseeing cruises, sunset cruises, snorkel trips, Sweet 16 cruises and corporate event charters, to name a few.

“Our signature 2½-hour sightseeing and sunset cruises sail three days a week in Jupiter and three days in Palm Beach,” Mr. Lowry said. “It tours Jupiter Island and tells you which famous people live in which gorgeous homes. You learn all about Palm Beach County and all the famous shipwrecks that have occurred up and down the coast. The tour tells you all about the Jupiter lighthouse — which we’re in talks with right now to provide tours and a water taxi service — and the history of Jupiter, Tequesta and the Loxahatchee River.”

Marine life enthusiasts can also enjoy sightings of manatees, dolphins and sea turtles, he added.

“And when it’s high tide, we get all of that clear blue water, so you can actually see to the bottom of the Intracoastal Waterway,” he said. “That’s when you get to enjoy a wide variety of fish. And one thing we really went above and beyond on is underwater lighting that we provide on our sunset cruise. It extends all the way around the boat. So at high tide you have 30 feet of visibility into the water, completely around the boat. That makes for some stunning sights.”

Mr. Lowry admitted there are a number of other companies in the area providing similar services, but stressed what sets the Manatee Queen apart is the extra mile he and his staff go to give their guests a truly memorable experience.

“We’ve done our homework and we take a lot of pride in that,” he said. “I was a former owner of a company called Visit Palm Beach, which we started in the early ’90s. That company specialized in tourism and corporate events. We did kayak tours for up to 100 people, for example. And little by little, I got into the history of this area and fell in love with teaching tourists and locals about Palm Beach County, such as the role Henry Flagler played in putting this area on the map. That’s why I jumped into this when I had the chance. And I’m glad to say we’re doing really well.”

The Manatee Queen offers 2 p.m. sightseeing and dusk sunset cruises Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from Jupiter Island and Sunday, Wednesday and Friday from Singer Island. Prices are $60 for adults with a beverage package (which includes unlimited beer, wine, soft drinks, light snacks and fruit) and $50 without. Kids 12 and under cruise for $35. Info and directions: 561-744-2191 or