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Debuting this Gasparilla: Lost Pearl, Tampa’s newest pirate ship

After years entertaining tourists in Virginia Beach, the Lost Pearl is settling into its new Tampa Bay home.
Yacht StarShip, a dining and water taxi company, has added the Lost Pearl pirate ship to its fleet just in time for Gasparilla.
Yacht StarShip, a dining and water taxi company, has added the Lost Pearl pirate ship to its fleet just in time for Gasparilla. [ Yacht StarShip ]
Published Jan. 17, 2020
Updated Jan. 17, 2020

TAMPA — The Lost Pearl may not have sailed the seven seas, but it did sail seven days to start its new life in Florida.

The glossy red decked-out pirate ship that once entertained crowds in Virginia Beach has now settled into pirate-crazed Tampa Bay just in time for Gasparilla. Yacht StarShip president and CEO Troy Manthey purchased the ship from its Virginia owners to add to his fleet of dining yachts and water taxis.

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“We have long recognized Tampa’s rich pirate history, theming our Water Taxi operation with a pirate theme and now adding a full-blown Pirate Ship to the fleet,” Manthey said in a statement. “Locals and visitors can take a real pirate ship adventure in search of treasure and dolphins on the beautiful waters of Tampa Bay.”

The ship is located along the water taxi’s route, stop seven, in front of the Tampa Convention Center. The ship left Virginia for its 1,100-mile journey in late December and arrived in Tampa on Jan. 3. It was custom built in 2011 and has two decks that can carry up to 125 people.

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Starting Feb. 8, the Lost Pearl will begin offering public cruises, which include a cast of pirates and interactive hunt for buried treasure.

The ship also will be available for private charters to accommodate birthdays, weddings and corporate events. The galley has snacks and a “grog” bar.

The Lost Pearl’s maiden Tampa Bay voyage will be at Gasparilla. You can purchase tickets to ride the Lost Pearl during the pirate invasion ahead of the Jan. 25 Gasparilla parade, but it costs more than $100 per person to come aboard.