Ferry Business - Spring/Summer 2021

8 4 INTERV IEW Men of vision Greg Bombard explains to Sandra Speares why his US-based ferry service Catalina Express has continued to go from strength to strength over the past 40 years C atalina Express was established in 1981 when three Catalina Island residents recognised the need for providing both residents and tourists with a fast and reliable mode of transportation between the island and mainland California in the USA. Current president Greg Bombard worked tirelessly alongside his father, Doug, and long-time colleague Tom Rutter to make this vision a reality. In its first year of service, Catalina Express operated with a 60-passenger vessel. Today, 40 years later, Catalina Express has a fleet of eight fully stabilised vessels – including four propeller-driven monohulls and four waterjet-driven catamarans – that travel at speeds of up to 42 knots. Each year, more than one million passengers sail onboard the Catalina Express fleet, which offers up to 30 daily departures from three mainland ports: Long Beach, Dana Point and San Pedro. Passenger comfort is a top priority on these sailings, says Bombard. “When the guests first arrive to the terminal, we see this as the start of their vacation. We try to provide a relaxing atmosphere with an easy check-in and boarding process.” Bombard believes that providing a safe, comfortable atmosphere for passengers has been paramount to the long-term success of the company. “Catalina Express is diligent in not cutting corners, but rather investing in proven, well-built vessels and equipment with the long-term focus of providing a comfortable ride,” he says. The company has a long history of testing and adopting new technologies. “Over the years, we have worked closely with boat builders to design vessels that ensure optimal performance in the Catalina Channel,” “ Our goal is to offer passengers more than just a boat ride but a total travel experience” Photos: Catalina Express