In the beginning, we had a cabin cruiser, which we used for private charters for families and small groups, and a whaler that we could use for various beach activities. But our main goal was to get into sailing catamaran tours. There was already an established operator on the island, but tourism was growing, mainly from increased cruise calls from Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and other cruise lines, and we thought there was room for a new entrant. We signed a contract to construct our first catamaran, Irie Lime, here in St Kitts, and one of us, Phil Matthews, took over full time to begin converting our ideas into an actual business. Phil is really the main reason we are successful today, as he set in place a culture of quality guest service from the outset. He also recognized that if everyone in the company is treated right, it makes it a lot easier for them to treat every guest right.
Our first catamaran cruise
The first major tour we offered to hotel guests was a full day catamaran cruise to Nevis with a snorkel stop. People loved it and told us so, and we were encouraged to offer it to Cruise lines as well. In the early years, we suffered a lot of setbacks, as our cabin cruiser was destroyed in a hurricane one year, and two years later the biggest hotel on the island was closed for months after another storm, but we persevered in spite of losing money and bought out one of our original investors. In the crisis a decade ago some businesses were “too big to fail”; maybe we were too dumb to fail, but slowly we added more activities: our Mini-speedboat tour, Kayaking, Sunset Catamaran Cruises and more. We have stayed true to our roots, and included a snorkel stop, beach break and other element in each tour to indulge in more time spent in our beautiful blue waters.
The real success, of course, did not so much come from doing new sailing tours, but by the repeat and word of mouth business we got from treating our guests well the first time. We love to get reviews from guests announcing they have just gone out for the eleventh time with us.
As we reflect on our past, perhaps the most remarkable thing has been how many long-term employees we have. Shauna Lynch and Jonathan Winterburn, two of our earliest associates are running the company now ( both have celebrated their 20th year anniversary) and many others have passed the 10-year mark. So as we look back as a 21-year old company we are full of gratitude to our captains, crew members, staff, guests and business partners that made it all possible.