Frequently Asked Questions
Don’t see your question? Call us @ 843-546-8822.
Please DO NOT email, text message, or Facebook Message us with questions. You are not in our contacts and chances are we will NOT see them.
***If we do not answer the phone, there is a good chance we are assisting other guests, or it is before or after hours. Please leave a message and we will call you back as soon as we are available. Multiple messages are not required. Try to keep in mind, some days we exceed 200 phone calls in an 8 hour time period. We are not an automated company, so when you call you will reach one of our crew.
Most, but not all, questions relate to both the Sea Shell & Lighthouse Cruise AND the Historic Hobcaw Barony Cruise & Hobcaw House Tour.
Do I have to purchase tickets in advance? Do I need to print my tickets? Are there any coupons or discounts available?
Reservations are required and our cruises often sell out quickly. The Carolina Rover is limited to 41 passengers each trip. To be sure of getting on a cruise the day you prefer, please book well in advance. Tickets may be purchased online. Each Adult ticket is $38.00, Children under 12 or under 90 lbs. are $30.00 each (including toddlers and infants). Purchasing tickets together does not ensure seating together for your family or group. However, we will try our best to make it happen. If you show up without a prepaid reservation, chances are there will NOT be seats available. If the date and time you want is not available or sold out, please call to be placed on our stand-by list.
You DO NOT need to PRINT your tickets!! Rover Tours will be notified of your reservation and does not require a copy. Please call (843-546-8822), DO NOT EMAIL or TEXT or FACEBOOK MESSENGER us, if we can be of any assistance.
There are NO coupons or discounts on the cruise. Our price is quite reasonable for the experience we offer. We don't think it's necessary to "pad" our ticket cost in order to offer a discount (that's how that is done). There is a coupon in the Visit M.B. coupon book for a free S.C. state seashell (please bring the coupon with you). The only discount we offer is to active duty US military. A current active duty ID and DD9 is required upon check-in. This discount does not apply to retirees or veterans, sorry.
Why are departures at different times?
We schedule our departures to arrive on North Island as close to low tide as possible, so that the most beach is exposed. There are 2 hide tides and 2 low tides in a 24 hour and 50 minute cycle. Meaning low tides are almost an hour later each day. Depending on the moon phases and the sun alignment, low tides will vary due to gravitational pull. During our summer season, we offer 2 trips on some days (due to high demand). We try to schedule both departures to equally have a good opportunity for low tide. There is no beach on the island during most high tides and during some moon phases.
Why check in early?
We require you to arrive a half hour before departure. This allows you time to check in, get your things settled on the boat, make a potty run (to the public facilities), and hear our safety speech. It may also help insure seating together for your family or group. We will depart at the actual trip time or earlier, if everyone checks in on time. Please be respectful of other passengers and do not arrive late. Your tickets will be forfeited with no refund if you miss the departure time. The boat will not be held if you are running late! If you are unsure about your drive time to accommodate for traffic please call and we will be happy to help. Directions and estimated drive times are at the bottom of this page.
Is there an age limit? Can children attend? What about pets?
Children of all ages are welcome to attend and do so every day. Our employees will interact with them, but are not babysitters. There is a price discount for all children 11 years of age and under or under 90 lbs. Tickets are required for ALL passengers. Rover Tours is USCG certified to carry 41 breathing passengers and your child will be included in that count. If you make reservations and show up with a child without a ticket, the child will not be allowed on the boat (which means you probably won't get to go either and will have to forfeit your tickets and monies). Don't laugh, it really happens! :-)
*We discourage guests from bringing infants and babies to ride. Four hours, in our opinion, is too long for infants and babies to be outside in the open air of the boat and island. Dehydration and heat stroke can occur quickly. We do not carry infant PFD's (lift jackets) on board.
***Per www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/cg5214/pfdselection.asp: Question: What PFD does the Coast Guard recommend for infants.
USCG response: The Coast Guard does not recommend taking infants on-board a boat. The PFDs currently available for newborns and infants may not provide a proper fit to perform as expected. Unless the parent is able to test their newborns/infants out in a PFD, sized for infants, in a swimming pool, they will not know if that device will float their child with his/her head out of the water. You must be sure you know the PFD you have works for your infant. Otherwise we recommend the child not be exposed to any risk in a boat on the water. Please take this into consideration before making reservations.
USCG required Type II PFD's are approved for children weighing 33 - 89 lbs. They are not worn on the boat or on the island. They are in the overhead of the vessel and for emergency use. If you wish to bring your own PFD, it must be labeled as USCG approved.
Unruly children will not be tolerated! Strollers or car seats are NOT allowed on board.
Animals are prohibited by our insurance company. Although we all love our pets, please remember not everyone does. Support dogs, cats, raccoons, parrots, hamsters (you get the idea),... must be left in your room or boarded elsewhere. If you show up with a support pet in your purse, carrier, backpack or stroller, they will not be allowed on board. If you smuggle the pet on board (yes, it has happened) Rover Tours will asses a $1000.00 fine and the USCG will be called to remove you and said pet from the vessel, resulting in forfeiture of your ticket purchase AND lots of forms to be filled out AND your having to pay for your nice ride on the Coast Guard vessel also.
What happens if it rains?
Rain on the coast can come and go rather quickly. Your Captain and crew are in contact with shore and we watch the weather forecast and radar closely. Occasionally a storm may pop up during your cruise, our staff is well trained, experienced, and qualified to handle any situation. We want to ensure your cruise is a safe, enjoyable and memorable experience. In the event we are required to cancel due to unsafe weather conditions we will contact you, as soon as possible, so you may join us on another date. Please provide a good contact number when securing your reservation. Keep in mind...if it is raining where you are, it may not be raining here or on the island. So, don't call us...we'll call you.
What is the cancellation policy?
Due to the boat capacity cancellations must be made at least 24 hours in advance (at least 48 hours for groups of 6 or more tickets), which gives us the opportunity to offer your seats to other guests wanting to ride (72 hours for holiday cruises or charters). There will be a 10% service fee plus the on-line reservation fee, no exceptions. Changes or cancellations received within 24 hours before departure (within 48 hours for groups of 6 or more tickets) are subject to 100% penalty (if we are not able to sell your tickets to someone else). There is a $1.00 per ticket on-line reservation fee for transferring to another date/time, sorry they charge us. No refunds will be issued if you did not call to cancel or if you do not show up on time. Cancellations via email, Facebook messenger, or left on our voicemail will not be accepted. If you make reservations and are not able to use all of your tickets or are unable to attend, please call 843-546-8822 so that we can try to sell your tickets (in which case we would be able to issue you a refund, less fees).
On slower days, which doesn't happen often, we may need to reschedule your reservation with a 2 hour notice, if we do not meet our minimum number of passengers. As much as we would love to go on a one-on-one date with you, all trips require a minimum number of passengers. If the minimum number is not reached we will contact you directly to reschedule or refund. Please provide a good contact number when securing your reservation.
Where should we park?
All of Front Street, parallel to the waterfront, is 2 hour parking. The parking lot beside our kiosk is privately owned and not available to our guests. So... you should park on any other street in the whole town (it is all free street parking) or in the public parking lots on Orange Street or Screven Street (1 block in either direction). Please be considerate of the other merchants on Front Street and park on the side streets or in the public parking lots. It's simply not kind to use a restaurant or retail parking space for 4-5 hours when you aren't purchasing from them, plus you'll probably wind up with a parking ticket.
Are we guaranteed to see dolphins?
We probably see dolphins on 95% of our tours. The dolphins are wild animals in their natural habitat, they are not in tanks or netted areas. When it happens it is by their own choice, not being forced through training or lured with illegal feeding.
Is gratuity included in the ticket price?
Gratuity is not included in the price of the cruise, but is greatly appreciated (although not required). However, if you feel your Captain and crew did a great job, you are more than welcome to tip them. They work very hard to ensure your trip is safe and enjoyable. We thank you in advance for remembering to bring some cash to tip your Captain and Crew.
How long are we on the island and are we guaranteed to find sea shells? How long is the entire excursion?
We are normally on the island between 1 hour and 1 hours & 30 minutes (depending on tides and the departure schedule). We schedule the trip to coincide as close to low tide as possible for the best collecting opportunity. You will definitely find shells, whether they are the specific shells you are looking for depends on mother nature. The best shell collecting will be in the edge of the surf (between ankle and knee deep water), plan to get your feet wet if you want sea shells. Shell collecting is kind of like fishing, some days are better than others. Canvas bags or buckets are good for collecting your shells. Plastic bags are discouraged :-( they don't work very well with wet, sandy, heavy shells. If you plan to bring driftwood back from the island, please make sure it will fit on our boat and in your vehicle.
Your cruise to the island is usually about 1 hour. Depending, again, on winds and tides it could be shorter or longer. Generally the entire trip is about 4 hours, sometimes a little shorter and sometimes a little longer. Please bear in mind this is a boat excursion. It can be affected time wise by wind, current, tides, weather, and unforeseen complications. Please keep activities following your return on a loose schedule. We are not responsible if you commit to a reservation after the cruise and are late. So...plan to come and relax. We promise to bring you back sooner or later.
Can I go into the lighthouse?
No, we are not even allowed on the grounds of the Lighthouse. Georgetown is a Port-Of-Entry for the US. Our light is operational and is used for navigation. Homeland Security does not allow any of our guests on the grounds of the lighthouse nor in it. You will have a great photo opportunity, get history on the lighthouse and we offer the official United States Lighthouse Society stamp. You might even hear a ghost story about it!
Do we go into the ocean? Will we get seasick?
No and no. We are never in the open ocean. We only recommend medication or motion sickness devices if you get SEVERELY car sick. Keep in mind, if you are not prone to motion sickness the medications and devices can cause it!
Are drinks or food available during the trip? Can I bring my own?
We only sell bottled water for $1.00 each (cash). You are urged to bring drinks (you will need to hydrate) and snacks or a picnic to be consumed on the cruise (you will get hungry). All coolers should be 12 pack or smaller and able to slide under your seats. No trash is to be left on the island or around your seating on the boat. There is a trash can and recycle bag on the boat.
***Water from our holding tank on the boat is NOT drinkable.
Are there restrooms on board?
Yes. Our restroom works much like a camper unit. We suggest nothing go into the head (toilet) that has not been digested with SMALL amounts of toilet tissue. All serious business needs to be taken care of on land, before departure. Public restroom facilities are located 1 block from our kiosk and the boat. There are no facilities on the island. You may stay on the boat with the Captain or go ashore, but not back and forth. The water on the boat is treated to decompose waste, but will absolutely not harm you when washing your hands.
Are we allowed to swim?
No. You may wade in the water up to your knees. This is a barrier island with very dangerous currents and occasionally there are sharks close to shore.
What should I wear?
Most of our guests wear shorts and t-shirts. You will need shoes that you don't mind getting wet, if you want to get good shells. If you plan to wear a swimsuit on the island, please wear a cover-up, shirt and shoes on the streets of Georgetown (this includes men), this is not Myrtle Beach and Georgetown is quite conservative. The restroom on the boat is not large enough to change clothes in.
Is there shade on the boat?
Yes. The boat has a canopy across the top. There are seats on the bow (front) of the boat in full sun, however the sun will come in from the sides during the cruise.
Are life jackets available on board?
Yes. We are Coast Guard inspected and certified to carry 41 passengers (adults and children, not infants or babies). PFD's ( life vests) are not worn during the cruise or on the island. USCG required Type II (child) PFD's are approved for children weighing 33 - 89 lbs. USCG required TYPE II (adult) PFD's are approved for larger children and adults weighing 90 - 311 lbs. and up to 52 inch chest size maximum. USCG approved commercial PFD's are not manufactured in larger sizes. We are not certified to carry passengers larger than 311 lbs. or 52 inches in chest measurements. Please refer to: Is there an age limit? Can children attend? for more information (above).
Is the boat handicap accessible?
No. We are not wheelchair, walker, or mobility scooter accessible. We are not insured for wheels on the deck of the boat. To board the boat you have to walk down a ramp to a floating dock, then step up onto the deck of the boat. When we reach the island you have to walk down a set of steps onto the beach. The boat will back off and float nearby. The only place to sit on the island is the sand. Personal chairs are not allowed on board the boat. You may stay on the boat with the Captain or go ashore. The boat will return at the designated time announced. We have guests opt to stay on board quite often.
Are gift certificates available?
Yes. Gift Certificates may be purchased on this site. The date on the certificate will state 12/25/2018. The recipient can call to schedule their cruise and redeem the gift.
Do you offer private charters?
We offer private charters for any occasion. Over the years we have hosted: family reunions, organization and club outings, retreats, conferences, school groups, graduation parties, weddings, bridal showers, bachelor parties, baby showers, birthday parties, sunset cruises, wine tastings, and memorial (ash scattering) services. Your private charter entitles you to host a total of 41 passengers for your special occasion with a 2 hour minimum (37 passengers with the buffet table. Not only can your group have it's own private shelling excursion, we offer other cruise routes as well. Travel back in time as you cruise the Waccamaw and Pee Dee rivers for a 4 hour breathtaking cruise of the Lowcountry Plantation tidelands that is only view-able by water. Relish in a 2 hour sunset cruise from the rice field vistas of the Sampit river or celebrate with friends on a 2 hour cocktail cruise. You may want your cruise catered by one of the fine restaurants on Front Street , bring your own, or make it pot-luck. We will be glad to help you make any event unforgettable! Call us at 843-546-8822.
What about the other boat going to North Island?
As much as we hate to respond to this question, it's asked often enough that we feel a response is warranted. We try to put our guests on the island during the time for opportune shell collecting. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do about the other boat if they reach the island first, except to offer a better overall adventure. Rover Tours has been operating our Shelling and Lighthouse cruise since 1995. The other boat began operating as a Plantation Cruise in the late '90's, going up the river. In 2002 they began running 1 day a week to North Island and by 2005 changed what they offered to a "Plantation & Shelling/Lighthouse Cruise". That being said, we honestly believe that Rover Tours offers a much better and safer experience. Our staff is USCG certified, First Aid & CPR certified, highly trained in vessel safety, pre-employment and randomly drug tested, and required to know a vast amount about the Ecology, Biology, and history of our area. We also adhere to and respect the federal rules for North Island in an effort to preserve the fragile ecosystem that we are privileged to be able to share with our guests.
Where are we located? How far is the drive?
From the Grand Strand area:
Take US 17 South to Georgetown (Hwy 17 Business, Kings Hwy., is usually about the same travel time as Hwy. 17 Bypass and usually has less traffic). As you come into town you will cross a large bridge (over water). From the bridge, get in the left lane, go 6 blocks and turn left onto Broad Street. Broad Street is 4 blocks long. Park on Broad St. or any parallel streets. Rover Tours ticket booth is on the corner of Front Street and Broad Street. Allow at least 1 hour drive time, from the south end of Myrtle Beach, to accommodate for traffic. (34.7 miles south of Myrtle Beach)
From the North Myrtle Beach area:
Simply take 17 South (as in the directions from Myrtle Beach) .... or take Hwy. 31 (aka Carolina Bays Parkway) to 544 east, travel on 544 east for about 5 miles, then turn left onto Hwy. 17 South to Georgetown. As you come into town you will cross a large bridge (over water). From the bridge, get in the left lane, go 6 blocks and turn left onto Broad Street. Broad Street is 4 blocks long. Park on Broad St. or any parallel streets. Rover Tours ticket booth is on the corner of Front Street and Broad Street. Allow at least 1.5 hours drive time to accommodate for traffic. (51.2 south of North Myrtle Beach)
From the Charleston area:
Take US 17 North to Georgetown. As you come into town you will cross a large bridge (over water). From the bridge, get in the right lane and turn right at the 2nd light onto Front Street. Rover Tours ticket booth is 6 blocks on the right, on the corner of Front Street and Broad Street.Park on Broad St. or any parallel streets. Allow at least 1.25 hours drive time to accommodate for traffic. (61 miles north of Charleston)
Take US 701 South to Georgetown. Go straight on US 17 South (the roads will merge). Get in the left lane and turn left at the 2nd light onto Front Street. Rover Tours / Island Picnic Cruise ticket booth is 6 blocks on the right, on the corner of Front Street and Broad Street.Park on Broad St. or any parallel streets. Allow 1 hour drive time to accommodate for traffic. (37 miles south of Conway)
Take US 521 to Georgetown, turn right onto Broad Street. Go 4 blocks. Rover Tours / Island Picnic Cruise ticket booth is at the end, on the corner of Front Street and Broad Street. Park on Broad St. or any parallel streets .Allow at least 1.25 hours drive time to accommodate for traffic. (67 miles east of Manning)