Waterways is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year and just in time to mark this exciting milestone, we were awarded the 2014 Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor® for our customer and hospitality service! TripAdvisor®’s Certificate of Excellence is awarded to hospitality businesses that have received extraordinary, positive recognition in reviews by TripAdvisor® travelers. To qualify for the Certificate of Excellence, our business had to maintain the highest rating for 12 consecutive months.
Waterways’ 20th Anniversary Showcase
As we look back at the 20-year history of Waterways, we posed a few questions of Shirley Turnbow, CEO and co-founder of Waterways Cruises.
What is the team’s reaction to receiving this award? We are excited to celebrate our 20th year in the hospitality industry with this accolade! It’s a true source of pride for the entire Waterways team. I really want to thank all our customers who took the time to complete their TripAdvisor® reviews! There is no greater seal of approval than being recognized so positively by our customers.
Waterways wedding in 1997
Why did you decide to start this business 20 years ago? Hilton Smith and I founded Waterways Cruises in 1994. Our love of boating and outdoor adventures led us to our first yacht which we acquired for family use. Within a year or so, our hobby turned from a small family operation of a single yacht chartered for private events into a full-scale event business with three yachts, a fully equipped catering kitchen, and professional event planning services. Our beautiful yachts became popular venues for clients who wanted to have a sense of privacy and a shared adventure – weddings, birthday and anniversary celebrations, and corporate events. The vessels are outfitted with full service bars, state-of-the-art galleys for freshly prepared onboard catering, and individual tables that can be custom-arranged to accommodate small or large groups.
Waterways’ 20th Anniversary Showcase
It has been an exciting business to be part of for the last 20 years. We have had corporate CEO’s, sports stars, the Vice President of the United States, and dignitaries from other countries onboard. If you were to ask what it is that I enjoy most about this business, it would be the people. Not only is it wonderful to see the happy smiles on our guests on departure, but working with the best team of people in the business is a joy every day.
What about public cruises? In 2009, as the company continued to grow, we decided to expand our operations to include public cruises. In years past we had offered a limited number of special event and holiday cruises, but now our year-round dining cruise schedule includes over 300 cruises, accommodating guests of all ages–four-course plated dinners, fun, happy hour cruises, brunch, lunch and BBQ cruises and special event cruises for Blue Angels’ viewing, Halloween dance parties, and all major holidays. We just launched a new Wine Tasting Cruise series featuring local Washington wines, and these cruises are already gaining a lot of attention. Rain or shine, our yachts provide climate-controlled interior salons and spacious open-air decks for the comfort and enjoyment of our guests. Private tables can be custom-arranged to accommodate intimate dining for two or larger group celebrations. Our Executive Chef uses only the finest ingredients so that our guests, both public and private, can enjoy the best of fresh Northwest cuisine as they cruise.
Waterways yachts on Lake Union
What makes a Waterways’ Captain special? Our Captains are an integral part of the Waterways cruise experience, from personally greeting each customer, presenting flowers to guests of honor, and entertaining diners with a narrative of sights and interesting landmarks during each cruise. Our captains are very interactive, they have been in this area a long time, and know it well. Parents can bring their children into the wheelhouse and have their pictures taken with the Captain. For private cruises, guests often request a specific Captain with whom they have cruised before. Some of our Captains specialize in weddings. Our Captains are an important part of the Waterways’ team, which also includes our outstanding service crew, kitchen and office staff.