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Port AdVenture Cruises making a difference and helping their community

Updated: Mar 28

✦ Elsa and Dave now have their very own radio program - “Talking Entertainment with Dave and Elsa” every Wednesday evening from 8.00pm on 2WAY FM Hastings Community Radio 103.9.

A bucket list item for Dave has been to have his own radio program, to say he is excited about it would be an understatement, but he admits he couldn’t do it without his partner in life, Elsa, who he fondly calls his Producer.

2WAY FM has been around for 100 years. But I'll tell you what, they do such a good service for the community, they get people like us that are not experienced or professional radio announcers involved with their own programs,” Dave told us.

Listen live to 2WAYFM

The couple from Port AdVenture Cruises have completed their fourth show, but they have been learning the ropes prior to going live to air for about 6 weeks. They had to learn the ins and outs of operating the panel.

“ You've got commitments like any radio station with your content, you've got to play commercials for the sponsors, the news, the weather, we read all that. And then in between all the commitments to the station, we talk about what's happening in our region, events. Last week, we had the General Manager of Majestic Cinemas in the studio. We talked about everything, movies and about how he started the business,” Elsa added.

Want to chat with Elsa and Dave on the radio?

If you have an event, a great venue or tourist facility you want to chat about, give Elsa a call on Ph: 0434 393 199. She will take your details and go from there. They envision interviewing 3 to 4 people every week on their program, and best of all, it’s free to be included.

“It's great fun, we are really enjoying it. We’ve had some fantastic guests so far including Benny Elias, an absolute footy legend who played for the Tigers and Australia back in the day,” David said.

The program will not only feature lively banter and interesting interviews, but will also highlight things to do and see across the beautiful Port Macquarie-Hastings and Camden Haven regions.

Elsa and Dave assure us they have plenty to talk about and look forward to presenting the program each week. Be sure to tune in at 8.00pm each Wednesday evening.

Dave and Elsa interviewed our very own CEO Veronica Lind in the 2WAY FM studio.

Dave told us, “Brilliant-Online has such an interesting story and you guys do so much for the local community with entertainment.”

Helping local businesses and community

When asked what they hope to achieve through the program they stressed it’s not about self promotion. Elsa is a part of the Greater Port Macquarie Tourism Board and is very passionate about it.

Dave told us, “I've also always been passionate about our beautiful town. As most people know, I operated a business in Port Macquarie many years ago, leaving the area about 20 years ago. But, I came back six years ago with Elsa and brought with us The Rhythmboat and started up Port Venture Cruises.”

He saw a big difference on his return. The town had expanded, when he left he said it was like God’s waiting room, now they see Port Macquarie as a great opportunity for their business.

“But it's not just about us. It's about the whole community because businesses have to support each other. We've been to hell and back. COVID, bushfires, floods, you don't know what’s next, look at this new war that's happening at the moment. The world has gone mad. We believe you have to enjoy your life, take life as it comes at you. On our radio program we won’t just be talking about our product, we are out to help everybody as we always have been.”

Elsa's involvement as part of the Greater Port Macquarie Tourism Association enables the couple to continue to do what they do best, help other businesses and the community as a whole.

The Tourism Board helps businesses to promote themselves and their endeavours. They promote the businesses that are part of the association and that are a benefit to the whole community.

Her involvement will add to the radio program that will bring a bit of history, a bit of education and of course a bit of talking entertainment.

An example of this is the upcoming Camden Haven Show, they were to interview the Camden Haven Chamber President Rod Bucton, but he is unavailable unfortunately, but they will still plug it, give a bit of history about the Show and promote the iconic event.

A Voluntary Association

Elsa is one of eleven board members that advocate for the area, advocate for tourism and for tourism operators that are members of the association. They are all volunteers.

“You don't actually have to be a tourism operator or an accommodation house or whatever, to be part of the association as a member. As long as you operate your business in Port Macquarie or in the surrounding areas, or you are somehow associated with tourism, because let's face it, tourism and hospitality is what the industry is about in our region,” Elsa explained.

She further told us that some regions have mining, construction and engineering industries, the Greater Port Macquarie Region's main industry in her eyes is tourism.

“If the Greater Port Macquarie region does not have tourism businesses, we really don't have an industry to draw tourists to the area. That is why the Board advocates for our tourism businesses,” she said.

The Board promotes them, gives them support, if someone's going for a grant, they give them letters of support or advice on their application. The Board helps new businesses, promoting them via their Facebook page or a link on the Board’s website.

Also support is given openly by hosting regular meetings and networking events and opportunities, it’s about getting people together. It’s about each business supporting each other. It’s about working together for the greater good of the community.

“It’s a good network of like minded people that not only want to see their own businesses grow, but also support the greater interest,” Elsa said.

Elsa’s role as a Board Member is to support the Executive Committee comprising

Jeanette Hyde - President, who has been in this role for the past 13 years and a part of the Association for over 30 years, Secretary Chris Denney and Treasurer Adam Buckton.

Elsa has a great love and admiration for Jeanette Hyde. They have bonded as friends.

“The Tourism Board strives to have Tourism operators and the region's businesses collaborate. All the different operations work together to not only draw visitors to the area, but to involve locals as well,” she said.

She didn’t join the Board to benefit her business, actually she was asked to join. She has benefited from her involvement of course, her involvement has helped her further her work in the community, helped her to draw people together, to collaborate.

A Small Business that has faced its challenges

As a small business tourism operator, Port AdVenture Cruises has done it tough and persevered during the hard times of the past few years.

“We've come through COVID, floods, fires etc and with all those things happening, business has picked up. People are getting more of an attitude of let's go out, enjoy ourselves, have a timeout with the kiddies, with the family and friends. At the end of the day, people still have to enjoy themselves. We're going into the silly season or the busy season, whatever you want to call it. And things are looking good for advanced bookings.”

Dave added, “But we have been held back. With interest rates at the moment, we understand that families are doing it tough. So we have kept our personal cruise rates stable at $39 for an adult, $29 for a child and $35 for a senior. A family of four cruise is about 130 bucks.”

He admitted that’s a lot of money when the family has to pay double interest rates and fuel and all this other day to day expenses that we all have to have.

Port AdVenture Cruises costs have risen as well, but they feel that if they can keep their prices down, it's better to make a little bit rather than not have those people join them for a cruise at all.

“We have thought about putting prices up to combat our overheads, but we thought no, we're better off to have people on our boat in small numbers, rather than have nobody. It's a catch 22. We're paying double the price for diesel, our business loan has virtually doubled in 12 months. We know we're not special in this regard, lots of businesses are experiencing this. But we've got to juggle the pluses and the minuses and just ride it out. That's what we're trying to do,” Dave said.

Some advice to Small Businesses

To help keep the doors open, don't price yourself out of the market, that's the thing Dave told us. “Yes, you still have to pretty much weigh everything out and cover your costs. And obviously, everyone's in business, not to just get a wage, but to make a little bit of money, but at the same time, be loyal to the locals just as much as to the visitors. Be kind, give good customer service and offer good value for money.”

Be clean, friendly, accessible and if you can diversify, value add.

“On a personal basis, what we're thinking at the moment is that we only do two cruises a day then the boat is just sitting at the wharf. Not operating at all for many hours. Our Plan B is that while we're not cruising, let’s get people on board to have a coffee, tea, cake or a snack, maybe a cold one, and have some music playing. Provide a relaxed place for people to take advantage of the beautiful views from our boat,” he told us.

They are also in the process of setting up a Tourism Visitor Information place. Have their big screen TV playing current videos of local attractions, happenings about town, maybe even a day for a Q & A about what’s on and what’s there to do. These ideas will also give them a back up if high winds, rain or even mechanical failure prevail.

But the main piece of business advice to small business is do what you have always done well, better.

An example of what they have always done is that they give people free food. By this it means food is included in the walk-on price of the cruises: freshly made wraps, beautiful fruit and ice cream, coffee, tea and cakes.

Plus new offerings as a value add are cheese boards and buckets of fresh prawns. These are in addition to the walk on price, but are proving to be very popular - some people are even pre-ordering so they don’t miss out.

It all goes through the bottom line, these extra initiatives just might pay for the fuel or an employee.

What matters most

Repeat customers, good, friendly staff, first class hospitality, making sure they are keeping everyone happy. Elsa and Dave just want everyone who comes on board The Rhythmboat to have fun.

Dave added, “By owning a boat, this business, we've got so many authorities that need to be addressed. AMSA, Maritime food and liquor licensing, all these sorts of different requirements and rules that we've got to stay on top of to run our business. And that does take a lot of time and a lot of management.“

Some say Elsa and Dave have the best job in the world, they don’t disagree, but behind the scenes there is a lot of work and there are only 4 staff including Elsa and Dave.

“It's just a fact of owning a small business, we love what we do and we want to continue for many years, so we keep going. But, I think things have got to give a little bit where, you know, interest rates need to come down, the cost of living needs to come down, and it's gonna come down,” Dave said.

A Brilliant plug

Port AdVenture Cruises has been with Brilliant-Online for over 12 months now and Dave wanted to finish his interview with a shout-out to us.

“What you guys do via your medium is unbelievable. You're giving people like us an opportunity to promote our product. You do it so well. It's not just a magazine, the way you're doing it with modern technology is fantastic. We get so much feedback from our customers saying they heard about us from Brilliant-Online, not only in Port Macquarie but from all over. It really is such a brilliant magazine. Anyone reading this, if you're not advertising with Brilliant-Online, talk to these ladies because they are brilliant.”

School Holiday Cruises

Morning cruise 11-1pm

Sunset cruise 4-6pm

November/December Cruises

Melbourne Cup - 7 Nov

Christmas Day lunch - 25 Dec

Christmas Day afternoon/sunset

New Year Cruise

To Book a Port AdVenture Cruise

Call: +61 434 393 199


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