Local Business

MV Longtail adapted to become water park

  • Pandemic pivot: Zoe Carswell, left, Consort Cruises Ltd’s assistant manager, and co-owner Geri Roberts (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
  • Fitted out: the revamped MV Longtail (Photograph supplied)
  • The MV Longtail, pictured before a third deck was added (Photograph supplied)

Consort Cruises will operate its MV Longtail party boat as a stationary water park this summer.

The pink-and-blue party catamaran has undergone a major refit since last October, and now has a third deck, water slides, a full galley, diving boards and many more new features.

Barbara and Geri Roberts, the co-owners, said they hoped to open the vessel to the public in Dockyard at the end of this month, to help keep the business afloat over the Covid-19 pandemic.

Barbara Roberts said: “Covid-19 has been terrible. We had so many new plans for this summer.

“We bought in a 65ft catamaran, Good Vibrations, thinking it would be a very busy summer. In fact, July and May were fully booked from the cruise ships. Now that’s all gone.”

Now the plan is to moor the Longtail near Calico Jack’s, another party boat, and open it to the public every weekend except holidays over the summer months.

Geri Roberts said: “The eventual plan is to charter it and do tours with it next year. This was the way to make it affordable.

“If we can keep the boat here we can knock down the price of operating it and make it easier for people to come and go, especially given Covid-19. It is a good compromise for now.”

The MV Longtail is one of Consort Cruises’ nine-strong fleet.

The boat was brought to the island 30 years ago and has been part of Bermuda’s charter industry ever since.

The Roberts family purchased her in March 2018.

Zoe Carswell, the assistant manager, said: “The whole front half of the boat used to be a big wheelhouse.

“We have put two smaller pods in, a smaller wheelhouse with a DJ booth in the back and a fully functioning galley.

“We have four bathrooms and will have noodles as well if people want to swim. Eventually, we will have a variety of seating.”

One of their attractions will be a floating “blob”.

Ms Carswell said: “That has been my dream. A blob is a giant inflatable bag in the water. When someone jumps on it, the person sitting on it ricochets off.”

She added staff would be working 50 to 70 hours a week at this time of year, but now considered themselves lucky if they get two days a week of charter work.

Ms Carswell said there had been some on-island interest in boat charters, but business was still way down on last year.

She added: “Charters are a very small segment of what we usually do.”

Geri Roberts said Consort Cruises invested whatever was made in a year into business expansion.

She added: “Last year we had a great year and everything we made went into a better year this year. We used all our cash to expand this year and then Covid-19 hit us in March.

“We have always had a local clientele, but if people have to pick a boat charter as opposed to groceries it is like anything else.”

But she said Bermudian families were not travelling this summer and the company was getting a lot of calls from parents who wanted to entertain their children after the long lockdown.

The Longtail’s capacity was 200 before the new deck was added and the Government has given the company the go ahead to have 120 people on board under pandemic regulations.

Ms Carswell said: “That’s pretty spacious. I was on the boat last year, with just the two decks and a full 200 people and it was still pretty spacious.

“This is probably the best boat for social distancing because of the ridiculous amount of space.”

The Roberts said they hoped to have the boat chartered on holiday weekends such as Cup Match.

Admission to the MV Longtail water park will be $25 per person all day. The boat will be open from 11am to 6pm. For more information call 232-KIRK or e-mail info@islandtourcentre.com or charters@islandtourcentre.com. For more information, visit kirksadventures.com