Never again/You get what you pay for
I had the chance to go on a private 6-hour trip for $1200 for our party of 6 targeting red snapper with guys who regularly get limits for all aboard. I should have done it. Instead I opted for this trip because it was half the price and they had two trips a day available. Never again.
Review of Vera Marie
The young men working on that boat were great! Very energetic and eager to help. They were above and beyond the best part of the trip.
Some other things to consider:
The Vera Marie is not a new boat. A few rod holder positions were broken so saying a full compliment of passengers can fish is a little misleading, although due to some of the passengers not being able to attend their rods the whole time (some just out of shape), there were rods available, but people are very territorial and it was difficult getting fishing positions for two of the kids I brought along. You get what you pay for.
Plan to smell like squid, and to have squid on your hands, clothes, etc. Bring a wet towel or Lysol wipes or baby wipes or something.
TAKE DRAMAMINE BEFORE BOARDING (they do not sell anything for sea sickness on the boat)! There were no fewer than eight folks who became ill on our trip before we even reached our first fishing spot and spent the entire trip lying down in the cabin. I gave my kids a store-bought naturopathic remedy (behind the ear oil) which did nothing. Even if they get drowsy from Dramamine, do it.
The cabin does have A/C but it is barely adequate (they will say it is because customers leave the doors open, which would be more valid if the A/C unit was fully functional; in reality, if you don’t police the doors religiously, the cabin became more like a clam bake than a reprieve from the outside heat) and I actually felt better outside in the heat because the sea breeze at least kept air flowing. You get what you pay for.
Expect to catch a lot of small fish. Of the 56 anglers on board, only about twenty red snapper were caught (fewer kept). Our party of 5 brought home 7 small fish. For $570 total, I feel we could have done better. But they use cheap bait. You get what you pay for.
If you’ve never fished before it will be a guaranteed way to catch fish. But if you are an experienced fisherman looking to get in a target species and have some great pictures of big fish, or a cooler full to take home and eat, it may be a disappointment. Pay the extra money for a different experience.