Southern Agenda

Ships Ahoy

Halfway along the eleven-mile cruise between Gulfport and Ship Island, one of four Mississippi barrier islands, most passengers lose cell phone service. “And that’s a good thing, because then you can really connect with the park,” says Kevin Buckel, who works at Ship Island Excursions, the family-owned business that has ferried visitors along what’s now Gulf Islands National Seashore since 1926. After a year out of service due to hurricane damage, the ferries (which can carry three hundred passengers) are back up and running, shuttling beachgoers to the island twice a day and for dolphin-searching and weekend sunset tours. On the remote seven-mile-long island, bird-watchers might spot migratory magnificent frigate birds, reddish egrets, and black terns, and circa-1858 Fort Massachusetts casts shade for shell hunters.