Gambling Ship Seeks To Build Clientele - Saturday 12th of March 2005

The Ocean Jewel gambling ship, which can accommodate up to 2,000 passengers, has averaged no more than half that capacity since it began operating offshore last fall, records show.

The new head of Titan Cruise Lines, which owns the 450-foot, eight-deck vessel, said he's pleased with the number of passengers thus far. The Ocean Jewel sails daily Wednesday through Monday from the Port of St. Petersburg.

``The company hasn't fully implemented its marketing programs yet,'' said Michael Hlavsa, Titan's chief executive officer. ``I think you'll ee some more awareness in the next 30 to 60 days, and we expect the passenger level will increase.''

For March, the peak of tourist season, Titan was averaging 907 passengers a day as of last week, said David Metz, director of St. Petersburg's Downtown Enterprise Facilities Department.

In February, Titan averaged 1,115 passengers per day. In January, it averaged 1,097 per day. In December, there were a day. November averaged to 856 per day.

Titan uses high-speed catamarans to ferry patrons to and from the vessel hourly, and that arrangement likely is a factor in the ship's operating below capacity, Metz said.

``They probably don't reach [2,000] with their transportation arrangements of shuttles going back and forth fairly frequently, articularly on weekends,'' he said.

Hlavsa, the former chief executive for SunCruz Casinos, agreed. ``The two numbers kind of don't relate,'' he said. ``The number of passengers that come on is one thing, but they come on over a 14-hour period of time, not all at one time.''

Titan was ``a few days'' late this month in submitting $46,858 in February passenger fees to the city, Metz said. The city charges Titan $2 per passenger.

Titan also has yet to reimburse the city for sanitation fees incurred by the port, Metz said. He said Titan asked to review documentation before it pays the fee, which is more than 60 days past due.

The company is current on its monthly dockage fees, Metz said. Hlavsa wasn't sure why passenger fees were paid late, but noted the company's chief financial officer was out of the office the week they were due.

``It's always been our full intention to make payment in accordance with our agreement,'' he said.

``Obviously, anything that we need to reimburse them for we would do.

Other news from around the same time

Casino bosses urge patrons to mind their kids - Saturday 12th of March 2005

Irresponsible parents, who spend hours gambling while their children are neglected at casinos, could....

Macau may trump Vegas - Saturday 12th of March 2005

IN the late 1940s, the mobster Bugsy Segal dreamed an improbable dream that a desert town could turn....

New Effort to Get VLT's on Ferry - Saturday 12th of March 2005

Video lottery terminals have brought big bucks to New York state since lawmakers approved the expans....

Talk of Betfair stock market move - Saturday 12th of March 2005

ONLINE betting exchange Betfair is believed to be mulling a stock market flotation that would land i....

ARGO report says tax threatens U.K. remote gambling industry - Saturday 12th of March 2005

A report commissioned by ARGO and published today by Europe Economics found that unless HM Treasury ....

Singapore to build first casino after four-decade ban - Saturday 12th of March 2005

Singapore, which fines chewing-gum importers as much as $122,000 and bans Playboy magazine, is relax....

Idea of gambling at Queen Mary still alive - Saturday 12th of March 2005

Voters rejected it. City officials downplay it. Business leaders doubt it.And yet, the idea that gam....

Resort puts its cards on the table - Saturday 12th of March 2005

Norfolk's biggest seaside resort is setting the pace in the race to attract a new-style casino proje....

Not going away Smoke - filled casinos are a risk to customers and above all, employees. - Saturday 12th of March 2005

Smoking bans in public places and workplaces are good public policy.They benefit the majority of peo....

Betfair pair odds on for 700m float - Saturday 12th of March 2005

BETFAIR, the controversial online betting exchange, is exploring a potential 700m stock-market float....