I’ll never forget the silly scene when my 5-year-old son challenged a pirate to a sword fight aboard his ship.
I can only imagine how incredibly cool St. Augustine’s Black Raven Pirate Ship must be for kids, because it was beyond cool for me — and I was on board on my 33rd birthday.
Actually, that was no coincidence. My husband had offered to take the family wherever I wanted to go for my birthday weekend, and for whatever reason – call it the Mamamelia in me – I wanted more than anything to take the kids on this infamous pirate ship ride. It was definitely the right choice.
The Black Raven was built specifically for this show on water. As you board, you’re greeted by the “pirates” who will serve as your crew. I overheard someone say we had 40 kids on our excursion — the whole ride was completely centered around kids. We went on their Treasure Hunt trip, which was hilarious. At the beginning, another pirate — dressed as Blackbeard — boarded the ship, stole our treasure chest and then took off in another ship. Near the end of the ride, our ships met again, and after a sword fight, Blackbeard surrendered the treasure chest, which was full of mini treasure chests each child got to take home.
My kids — ages 5 and 2 — were just wide-eyed and completely into it for the entire 2-hour ride. We boarded at the city marina, just south of the historic Bridge of Lions. Then we headed north, which was fantastic because the kids were able to watch as the draw bridge opened for us. During the trip, the pirates told tales, sang songs, and even brought out instruments so the kids could play along. They painted pirate designs on every kid who wanted one. My son opted for a pirate goatee and a scar down the side of his face. My daughter chose a mermaid design for her arm.
Then, best of all, they broke out buckets of foamy swords so the kids could practice their sword-fighting skills. A very good-humored pirate had the children line up to take turns dueling with him. He and the kids laughed the whole time as they battled.
During the ride, we also had the backdrop of the gorgeous bay front of St. Augustine (including its historic fort, a hub for real pirates in its day), sailboats and yachts, and even dolphins. Then Blackbeard’s ship came sailing toward us, and both ships began setting off their pretend cannons, complete with the loud bang and smoke. Every kid on board was amazed.
Once we won the battle and Blackbeard surrendered the treasure, the kids lined up to receive their own little treasure boxes. These were not cheapo boxes — they’re keepsakes that can be taken home. Inside, there were two bead necklaces and two fake gold coins. Absolute treasure to my 2- and 5-year-olds.
I was extremely impressed with the whole trip. The folks on board made it look easy, but in reality keeping a boatload of 40 kids and their parents entertained for 2 hours is hard work. They took good care of us, with bathrooms on board, a snack bar where we could purchase drinks, plenty of places to sit, and of course lots of entertainment. They also have a gift shop where you pick up your “boarding pass.” The shop has food, drinks, lots of pirate gear and even a place to park your stroller while you’re on the ship. I’d recommend bringing pirate costumes for the kids or getting them at the gift shop — almost every kid on board our ship had some pirate gear on.
If you’re looking for a fun place to take your kids — or even a stellar birthday party destination — I definitely would recommend the Black Raven. It’s an adventure I know my own kids will never forget.
If you’re interested:
Pricing: Varies depending on the trip and the age of participants. The Treasure Hunt was $35 for adults and $25 for kids 3-12, and kids under 3 are FREE. Military discounts are also available.
When: Schedule varies. At the time we toured, the Treasure Hunts trips were offered at 2:15 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday.
Where: City Marina, 111 F Avenida Menendez, St. Augustine, FL