October 2, 2012

Cruising Forward


Osprey Cruises began its Texas journey in Port Aransas in 1971 as a deep-sea fishing tour business relocating to South Padre Island in 1997 where they are currently cementing a steadfast maritime legacy.   “We moved to South Padre Island because we saw the valley had plenty of opportunities that were not being taken advantage of,” said General Manager Phil Calo. Calo, along with two other partners, started with one deep-sea fishing boat and soon after added a second one. Two years later, they introduced the first bay fishing cruise, and the best was yet to come.

Bryan Owen– the multifaceted hospitality manager, promotions director and boat captain —believes the company’s variety of services and amiable disposition is what keeps clients satisfied. “We have the best boats and top-notch captains who have been here for a long time,” he said. Their fleet of six US Coast Guard certified vessels is equipped with the latest in navigation technology and their captains are not only experienced, but popular among clients.  When asked about the Osprey’s clientele, Owen said the company has a loyal local base especially from the upper Rio Grande Valley.  Winter Texans keep them busy during the winter, while the summer draws thousands of visitors from all over the state. Owen stated that even Europeans embark on their cruises once in a while.

The demand for themed cruises motivated them to launch the Black Dragon pirate ship; an authentic recreation of a 17th century Spanish galleon. The adventure cruises have been as successful as expected, but it is bay fishing that keeps growing in popularity swaying the company to introduce a second bay fishing boat. Bay fishing cruises now depart from two convenient locations; the Pirate’s Landing restaurant in Port Isabel, and Pier 19 restaurant in South Padre Island.

There is great passion in Calo’s voice when he describes the company’s new Sea Life Safari Cruises and its guaranteed dolphin sightings. He explains how boat captains take tour participantsfurther in to dolphin nesting areas, and how a net is placed behind the boat to catch different species of sea life which are taken on board for an amusing, hands-on, educational presentation about the marine life of the Gulf of Mexico.

Not all of Osprey’s bay cruises are easy and relaxing experiences, for Osprey Cruises offers an exciting action-packed cruise aboard the Thriller. This boat is a high speed 55’ off shore racer powered by twin 600 horse power turbo engines reaching speeds of up to 55 miles per hour. Thriller is the only passenger carrying vessel operating in Texas waters certified by the US Coast Guard to operate at high speeds.

Osprey Cruises shares a beautiful waterfront property on the Laguna Madre with Pier 19 restaurant. It is in the restaurant’s lobby where people find the Osprey’s gift shop fully stocked with unique jewelry, pirate-themed merchandise and souvenirs.  According to Calo, both companies share a wonderful business relationship and a great partnership. He points out how passengers returning from a fishing cruise are able to savor their catch as soon as they get off the boat. “It doesn’t get fresher than that,” said Calo, “people catch the fish, we clean it, cook it, serve it, and we even wash the dishes.” Some people opt for dining before or after their cruise at Pier 19.  It is because of this partnership that great package deals, which include a meal at Pier 19 plus a cruise of choice, are available to winter visitors.  Both Calo and Owen visit over 200 RV parks across the Rio Grande Valley every year promoting Osprey Cruises and Pier 19 restaurant. Catered parties on board a private cruise are also the result of this successful partnership.

August brings in the Texas International Fishing Tournament to South Padre Island and with it come hundreds of people, but Calo says he welcomes every event.  “Sand Castle Days, Bike Fest, fishing tournaments, all traffic impacts our business.”

Traffic will certainly impact their business, but it is the company’s professionalism and dedication, along with its comprehensive range of outdoor activities that will keep people coming back for more. “Coming to South Padre, was a very good decision.” Calo affirmed.

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About the Author

Tapia - Gonzales
La Vida Valle is where I write about "la vida" living in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Life, art and culture, poetry, prayers, travel, and camping! yes, that's my new thing. I blame the heat and high humidity for the madness. Contributions and comments are always welcome .


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