Be prepared to get blasted — with speed and sprays of water.
That’s what you can expect on board Bay Rocket — one of the newest attractions at the Riverwalk in downtown Tampa.
The 2,800-horsepower speedboat, outfitted with dozens of passenger seats, docks outside the Tampa Convention Center. It takes passengers who dare to board it on an adrenaline-filled ride out onto Hillsborough Bay.
But like many of the boat rides through Channelside around Davis and Harbor islands, a ride on Bay Rocket is more than meets the eye.
Yeah, the boat looks super cool, but it’s also a fun, easy-to-do experience right in the heart of Tampa. It’s for thrill junkies, for families and couples, and even those who are just killing some time before dinner or waiting for the sunset.
It’s a rocket-blasted experience, and ride, that’s totally worth the trip.
Captain Shane Lance has plenty of experience driving speed boats and other passenger water taxis. So, he gets to do a job that many would love — driving a vessel with the kind of power many have never experienced.
“It’s not everyday you can hop on a boat this size and go that fast, unless you find the right ride,” Lance said. “People come here looking for a good time, and, probably, don’t mind getting wet, as well.
“Almost everyone is definitely looking for something they’ve never done before.”
Those lining up on the Riverwalk along The Sail Plaza to board the (Tampa Bay) pirate-themed boat will experience an nearly hour-long ride filled with 180-degree spins, turns and bow dips in Hillsborough Bay.
Lance says the boat does about 30 knots (35 mph), adding, “which doesn’t sound very fast, but on a boat it is or can be.”
“We’re going to do zig-zags,” he added. “Then we’re going to do about five spins and two dips. I think everyone loves the dips.”
The dips entail taking the bow of the boat and “just slam it into the water.”
“And those in certain, and most rows, depending on the wind, will get wet,” Lance added with a sly smile.
Indeed, the spray of water goes high and wide, lightly or thoroughly drenching passengers that are desperately hanging onto their seats — and their phones recording the action.
Passengers do wear seatbelts and will be treated to views — as well as some historical notes of the Seddon Channel between Harbor and Davis islands — with a slow taxi out to and back from Hillsborough Bay.
“(People) definitely come to ride for the thrills, the views and, even as it’s hot,” Lance said. “They’re like, ‘Let’s get on there and get a little wet, cool off a little with some breeze and have some fun.’
“It’s something new and different and there will be entertainment.”
Rocket-ing the boat
Now, it’s time for a dance off.
That entertainment Captain Lance mentioned goes beyond just a history lesson.
Bay Rocket will crank up the tunes, for a dance party, that every passenger can enjoy from the comfort of their seats.
The boat’s first mate will, enthusiastically, lead the dancing, as pop music blasting from the speakers will make every passenger groove, even just a little bit.
“People really do seem to love that part,” Lance added. “This is going to be a fun ride, no matter what.”
In the span of an hour, passengers will be tossed and turned, to their delight, on Hillsborough Bay.
They will then be brought back to the many other attractions at Riverwalk, such as Cycleboats, The Sail Plaza or Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park.
Rocket Bay — one of the newest many attractions at the widely popular Riverwalk — is meant for anyone age 5 or older — who wants to enjoy a thrilling experience on the water.
Just be prepared for that water to be blasted on you.
Where: 333 S. Franklin St., Tampa (in front of the Tampa Bay Convention Center)
When: Fridays through Sundays, six daily rides starting at noon
Cost: Adults – $34.95, Children (ages 5 to 12) – $29.95. Groups of 15-plus passengers must call in advance.
Details: Blast off on a nearly hour-long adrenaline-filled jet boat ride in Bay Rocket’s 2,800-horsepower speedboat that takes passengers in thrilling 180-degree spins, turns and bow dips. The crew will crank up music while cruising, and provide whimsical narration, fun interactive games and a dance party on the slow ride back into dock.
For more information or to book online, visit BayRocketTampa.com, or call 813-223-7999.
Published September 20, 2023