By Mike Goodman

The refurbished Odyssey cruises the Potomac; Photo Courtesy of Entertainment Cruises

On April 16, Entertainment Cruises unveiled its $2.2 million refurbishment of the Odyssey dining yacht, which launches daily from The Wharf. The renovation featured a complete redo of the interior and exterior, expanded food and beverage space and offerings, and eco-friendly measures to promote DC’s promise to become a zero-waste city, such as upgrading the engines to 21st century, green technology.

“The Southwester” conducted an exclusive interview with Mary Rinaldo, Vice President—Mid-Atlantic Region of Entertainment Cruises, about the renovations.

What will this renovation add to the fleet?

Anyone familiar with Odyssey III would know that she is in a class of her own—an opulent DC icon that has entertained thousands of people while serving Washingtonians and their guests well. Like any great icons, it was important to us to make sure Odyssey continues to deliver on that promise for years to come. Totally custom-built for these waterways, and able to glide under the capital’s iconic bridges, she provides an experience like no other. Her new contemporary design and elegant dining combined with an entirely unique perspective of the city’s historic landmarks along the Potomac River are to me unmatched and my personal favorite part of the experience. We hope our guests will be as thrilled as we are at her return. Odyssey III is a tremendous asset to our DC fleet and represents an exciting future for our business.

What should neighbors know about Entertainment Cruises and the offerings of the company?

Together with Odyssey III, Entertainment Cruises operates a fleet of 19 vessels across four different brands (Odyssey, Spirit Cruises, Elite Private Yachts, Potomac River Boat Company) from its berths across Washington, DC, Alexandria and National Harbor, MD. We offer dining cruises, sightseeing tours and private charters; as well as the popular Potomac Water Taxi which serves many of the capital’s key tourist, commercial and entertainment districts. But we also strive to be a good and supportive neighbor to the communities we serve. This year, we pledged $10,000 to the Potomac Conservancy to support their sterling efforts, and our team will be volunteering a day of their time to help clean up the city’s waterways. We also support many local and national charities, such as our annual Patriot Thanksgiving Benefit lunch cruise, where for the past 18 years we’ve put on a special cruise and staff have given their time to honor active duty military and disabled veterans, as well as our longstanding collaboration with the Kelly Ann Dolan Foundation hosting cruises for families with disabled and terminally ill children in DC and other cities we operate. These are just some of the ways in which we endeavor to serve our neighbors.

Can you tell us a little more about EC’s commitment to ‘Going Green,’ and what that means for the fleet in the DC region?

We work hard to manage our business responsibly and reduce our environmental impact through the safe and responsible operation of our fleet. One of the most significant investments of our Odyssey renovation was installation of state-of-the-art, Tier 3 clean diesel technology in a continuous effort to further reduce emissions and increase fuel efficiency. And last year, we added four new high-speed, low-wake vessels to our Potomac Water Taxi service providing one of the most efficient and eco-friendly means of transport in the city. Additionally, all our vessels run on ultra-low sulphur diesel, which substantially reduces emissions from the engines. This is supported by robust initiatives to reduce waste and increase water conservation, as well as using eco-friendly cleaning products. We also have recycling programs in place across our fleet and offices.

What’s next for EC? What are EC’s plans for the DC area?

Over the past ten years we have seen our business grow year on year, not just organically but also through intelligent acquisitions such as Alexandria-based, Potomac River Company, who joined the Entertainment Cruises family in 2016. And we’ve also developed and built new vessels too, including four state-of-the-art high speed, low wake water taxis launched last year and operating in these waters. This year we expect to celebrate our best year in DC to date; and anticipate upwards of 800,000 guests will enjoy an experience on board one of our vessels in this market, whether it be a fine-dining cruise, private charter, sight-seeing tour or water taxi service.

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