How to Start a Dinner Cruise Business


Starting a dinner cruise business is a creative idea for an entrepreneur who loves parties and spending time on the water. There are many things that should be considered and planned for in order for this type of business to be successful.

Things You'll Need

  • Captain's and master's licenses
  • Party boat or yacht
  • Rented marina space
  • Caterer
  • Obtain a captain's license. This is necessary for anyone who operates a boat for commercial purposes. If you plan to offer dinner cruises for more than six passengers at a time, you will need a master's license.

    Since the requirements to obtain a master's license take a year meet, you may just need to hire a captain that already has a master's license.

  • Get a boat or yacht by purchasing or chartering it. The best vessel for a dinner cruise business is a party boat or a yacht. Try to choose one that is roomy and comfortable, that has controlled air conditioning and that has space for your caterer to prepare meals.

    To find a boat, you can search classified ads, ask those who work at the marina and any country clubs in your area or talk with a yacht broker.

  • Register your boat with the Department of Natural Resources in your area. This is necessary, or else you won't be operating your dinner cruise business legitimately.

  • Choose a marina where to dock your boat. It is best if you do not choose a marina that already has a dinner cruise business operating there to avoid competition. In addition to renting space for your boat, get spaces for your customers to park.

  • Decide what type of cruises you will offer. You may want to offer dinner cruise packages for corporate events, sporting event patrons, wedding, engagement and anniversary parties, or for holidays.

    While you can offer dinner cruises for all of these types of occasions, choosing a niche will allow you to better target your marketing efforts.

  • Contract with a caterer to prepare meals for your dinner cruise. You can either choose a personal chef, established local catering business, or consult the head chef at your local hotel or resort.

    You will work with your caterer to develop a customized menu. The menu you choose may need to change with the season--this is especially true if you plan to get your ingredients locally.

  • Network with complimentary service providers, such as DJs, bands, event planners and florists to boost your business. You can team up with them to offer discounts to their customers in exchange for business referrals and vice versa.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you plan to serve alcohol on your dinner cruises, you will need to get liquor permits. To avoid this expense, allow your customers to bring their own alcohol on their dinner cruise.


  • Photo Credit Wikimedia Commons, Toronto Party Boat
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