The South, Traveling with a Family

Staying on a Pirate Ship in Key West: An Airbnb Review

Sunrise on a Pirate Ship in Key West | Vagaond RN

Staying on a pirate ship in Key West, Florida is a unique way to experience the island.  We found this 1970s Taiwanese boat on Airbnb and couldn’t resist booking the stay. This is my honest review of staying on a pirate ship through Airbnb.

The Harbor in Key West, Florida | Vagabond RN

Getting there 

Our ship was anchored in the harbor rather than docked.  We met our Airbnb host for a dinghy ride out to the pirate ship.  We were allowed two complimentary dinghy rides each day but could request more rides for an extra fee. The biggest downside was that we could request a ride back to the ship no later than 10 pm.  For late-night party animals, this is not ideal.  However, we are lame parents and it worked out just fine for us. 

Detailing on a Pirate Ship in Key West, Florida | Vagabond RN

What to Bring 

Bring the bare minimum.  If the boat you book is anchored, you will be taking a small dinghy out to your boat. You will have to carry your belongings from one boat to another without falling into the water.  I highly recommend a backpack in lieu of a heavy suitcase.  Bring your clothes, power bank/portable phone charger, snacks, and beverages.  If you get hungry, you won’t be able to head into town on a whim.  You will need to request a ride from your host.  Therefore, you must not forget your snacks.

When to Go 

We visited during Key West’s peak month of February.  However, the island is more crowded and expensive in the winter months.  The summers can be humid and uncomfortable.  The best time to visit is March through May. 

Solar Panels  

Our pirate ship had solar panels.  Frankly, the solar panels did not work.  This Airbnb experience ended up resembling camping in the middle of the ocean.   

The ship had lights, water, and a stove.  However, none of those luxuries were available when the solar panels went out.  This is why I recommend that you bring a backpacking stove if you plan to cook.  Most importantly, I recommend bringing a power bank for your phone.  That way, you will be able to charge your phone so that you can remain in contact with your Airbnb host throughout your stay.  Our phone batteries were dying whilst trying to request a dinghy ride through the Airbnb app.

The Bathroom Situation 

Fortunately, the solar panels were working our first day on the ship.  We were able to “flush” the toilet and take cold showers.  Then, the solar panels stopped working and we could not flush the toilet.  My biggest piece of advice–DO NOT POOP ON THE SHIP.  The toilet on board is like an outhouse. To flush, you have to pump the water several times to rid of your bodily excretions. Well folks, I made the mistake of pooping on the boat BEFORE I realized the solar panels ran out of juice. In a futile attempt to flush my shame, I dumped the water from my water bottle and frantically pumped the handle–hoping my husband would not realize what had happened. It was an unsuccessful attempt.  Boy, am I glad my husband loves me!

Detailing on a Pirate Ship in Key West, Florida | Vagabond RN

Go with the Flow 

To make this experience a positive one, you have to go with the flow.  Literally and figuratively.  The waves will move the boat, making it slightly difficult to walk around.  However, the motion of the ocean makes for a very relaxing sleep. 

Sunrise on a Pirate Ship

My favorite part about our stay was watching the sunrise on the water.  It was a beautiful and renewing experience. 

Sunrise on a Pirate Ship in Key West, Florida | Vagaond RN

Playing Deckhand 

Our son had a great time playing deckhand on the ship.  He scrubbed the decks and steered the ship for us.  He was rewarded with his daily rations, of course. 

Deckhand on a Pirate Ship in Key West, Florida | Vagabond RNSteering a Pirate Ship in Key West, Florida | Vagabond RN


Listen to… 

Kokomo-The Beach Boys 

I’m on a Boat-The Lonely Island 

Boat Drinks-Jimmy Buffett 

A Pirate Looks at Forty-Jimmy Buffett 

Boats ‘N Hoes-Will Ferrell & John C. Reilly (From Step Brothers) 


Although staying on a pirate ship in Key West wasn’t the most glamorous experience, it was a unique one that I would recommend.   However, I would not stay longer than a day or two if you like hot showers and good plumbing.  Additionally, there are several different boats on Airbnb that you can choose from to meet your specific needs.  If I booked a boat again, I would find one that is docked rather than anchored.

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Staying on a Pirate Ship in Key West, Florida | An Airbnb Review | Vagabond RN

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