70-Year Glass-Bottom Boat Heritage to be Celebrated in Key West

KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Though they might not realize it, passengers who view the Florida Keys’ underwater world from Key West’s only glass-bottom boat are participating in a 70-year-old tradition. In 1953 the Fireball, the island’s first commercial glass-bottom boat, began operating from a dock at the foot of Duval Street beside the Gulf of Mexico.

Ocean enthusiasts and history buffs can commemorate Key West’s glass-bottom boat legacy Friday, March 10, 2023, during a 70th anniversary celebration beside the Pride of Key West, the island city’s contemporary “window” on the marine world. Operated by Fury Water Adventures, the Pride of Key West is docked at 0 Duval St. like its historic predecessors.

Set for 5-7 p.m., the festivities are to include complimentary food and drinks, live music, a unique display of historic artifacts, a custom anniversary cake and even a few surprise guests.

Attendees are encouraged to snap selfies with the Pride of Key West, a 60-foot glass-bottom catamaran that carries passengers on narrated eco-excursions to view the continental United States’ only coral barrier reef and its wealth of marine life.

In operation since March 1994, the air-conditioned Pride is the modern-day successor of the glass-bottom vessels that have introduced visitors to the Keys’ ocean realm for seven decades.

“For 70 years, people have been able to explore dramatic underwater vistas generally reserved for scuba divers from the Pride of Key West and previous glass-bottom boats,” said the Pride’s captain, Brian Frantzen of Fury Water Adventures. “This is not just a celebration for Fury; it’s a celebration of Key West’s unparalleled marine world.”

While admission to the 70th anniversary event is free, reservations are required and can be made at furycat.com/rsvp.

Boat and anniversary information: furycat.com/key-west/glass-bottom-boats

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