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Casino ship readies for maiden voyage
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The Trade Winds Casino Cruise Line will operate this 200-foot, 425-passenger ship out of Hubbard’s Marina five days a week beginning the weekend of Aug. 24-25.
MADEIRA BEACH – The latest addition to the John’s Pass Village entertainment venue will be a cruise ship, with gaming on board.

The Trade Winds Casino Cruise Line will operate a 200-foot, 425-passenger ship out of Hubbard’s Marina five days a week beginning the weekend of Aug. 24-25.

Darin Eliscu of Chicago owns the ship. It was last based in Brunswick, Ga.

Karen Donovan, the cruise line’s director of sales and marketing, said the ship’s capacity would mean plenty of gaming opportunities for passengers.

“There will be 200 slot machines, plus all the Vegas-style games including roulette, craps, blackjack, and a sports book,” she said. The boat will operate five days a week, typically offering three hours of gaming following a one-hour trip out into the Gulf of Mexico into international waters.

Evening cruises running from 7 p.m. to midnight will be offered on Tuesday through Friday, with an extra hour added on Saturday. Midday trips also will be available on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Sundays will feature a matinee cruise from 4 to 6 p.m.

The Trade Winds vessel will be the fourth gaming boat to operate out of John’s Pass and Madeira Beach in recent years. The others have all departed, going out of business for various reasons.

Donovan, who also served with the other lines, said she believes this ship has a more promising outlook than any of the others.

“This is a different ship but is better than any we’ve had here before,” she said. “I’ve been with the rest, and this is the best.”

The cruise line is “very customer-service oriented,” Donovan said, adding the crew and personnel were hired based on customer service.

“What we are selling is fun,” she said. “We want people to come out and have fun, and serving the passengers well is a big part of that,” she said.

As to the new ship’s future at John’s Pass, Donovan predicted, “This one is going to stay.”

The boat will be docked at Hubbard’s Marina at John’s Pass, and join Hooters, Bubba Gump’s and other noted enterprises there as a tenant of Hubbard Properties.

The Hubbard family has been a big player in the retail, restaurant, and marine scene at the Pass since the 1970s.

Hubbard Properties CEO Patricia Hubbard said she and her family are “very excited about having this new addition to John’s Pass Village. We look forward to working with them. It is going to be a first class operation.”
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