Cruise Whitsundays announces new era
THERE is light at the end of the tunnel after what has been a long and hard year for Cruise Whitsundays, according to executive director Chris Jacobs.
At last Wednesday’s agents’ night, Mr Jacobs said Cruise Whitsundays had gone through a “very big year” since buying Fantasea’s Whitsunday operations in 2012.
“How many businesses more than double in size from one day to the next? It was more gruelling than any of us anticipated so it is really nice to be at the end of that first year,” Mr Jacobs said. “We had to drop off – we know that. We had a fall in standards around the place [and] it was just crisis management each and every day getting those people from A to B...[but] now we’re getting back to the stage where we are polishing things again,” he said.
“Our goal [now] is to be, not just the leading operator in the Whitsundays, but also on the east coast and help bring more visitors here.”
The company’s new CEO Nick Hortle went into detail about more than $11 million worth of investments made across the fleet. Mr Hortle said Cruise Whitsundays had bought two new vessels, Sea Odyssey and Cobia, as well as completely refurbishing Charmer, which was barely recognisable in its new configuration as Seahorse.
For the booking agents, their customers and local residents, Mr Hortle said this would translate to “great reliability in our schedules and great comfort for passengers”. With its fleet now up to scratch, Cruise Whitsundays will offer additional new products, including a Hamilton Island golf club package and the long awaited return of Reef Sleep.
Mr Jacobs said the former Fantasea product had been completely re-invented, with its new under the stars option offering guests the chance to sleep in pre- mium swags on the Great Barrier Reef.
“It used to be presented as a 4.5 star hotel product, which it never was – you slept in a cabin and you couldn’t see the sea,” he said. “[But] the great opportunity out there is you’re on this pontoon on the Great Barrier Reef, 40-plus miles from shore and any manmade light so the stars and everything out there is spectacular.”
Reef Sleep will operate from April 1- December 31. For more information visit www.cruisewhitsundays.com.
HEADING THE TEAM: Cruise Whitsundays' new general manager of operations Gary Kilby, executive director Chris Jacobs, regional sales manager Australia Jacky Fleming and new CEO Nick Hortle, are excited about taking Cruise Whitsundays forward one year after purchasing the Fantasea operation in the region.