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Debra Dawson, owner and founder of Tikki Beach Charters and Luau Express Tours started her 25 year career in the charter industry at the young age of 16 while working aboard her parents 365 passenger yacht, the Chicago Princess. In year 2000, Dawson discovered the Tikki Beach barge (then named Kon Tiki Dee) for sale in Wisconsin and teamed up with mid-west investors to operate the vessel in Tampa Bay. In 2003, Dawson moved the party barge to the Ft. Lauderdale/Miami area and based the vessel at the Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach from years 2004-2009.
In 2011, Dawson expanded her brand to a local 375 passenger yacht and co-branded the vessel as Kabana Beach. Many Tikki Beach clients were looking for something new, which forced Dawson to think ‘out of the box’ and then create the famous tikki-theme on an upscale yacht. Tikki Beach Charters is very proud of the new addition and look forward to a healthy and successful future with multiple tikki-theme yachts, in the US and overseas.
Beginning her career in the mid-west while employed by American Party Cruises (her parent’s charter yacht company which owned and operated the Chicago Princess and Princess II), Debra realized early on that the party boat business was her destiny. As the result of much sacrifice, hard work, and determination, her career evolved to sunny South Florida where she eventually came to operate the iconic party barge named the Tikki Beach, in addition to traditional party boats.
The Chicago Princess fleet chartered in Fort Myers, FL during the colder months of the year, which prompted Debra attend the University of South Florida where she received a bachelor’s degree in business marketing. Soon after college Debra was introduced to the tikki-theme vessel and repositioned herself in Miami and the east coast of Florida. She has since grown her companies to include multiple services, such as the chartering of private event yachts, day boat charters, Bahama charters, catamaran rentals, mega yacht weekly charters, as well as specializing in full scale event creation and development. She plans to continue to expand the Tikki Beach brand and complimenting charter and broker projects in other US and international metropolitan cities on the water.
Kelly Ross Seraphin started working onboard the Tikki Beach as an event manager and bartender, and eventually settled into a sales position. Kelly, an art history and design major, fell in love with event design and now specializes in wedding cruises, social events, and corporate charters. She also specializes in organic and vegan menu design for our health-conscious clients. Kelly is also a certified esthetician and has organized numerous spa themed cruises about the Tikki Beach fleet.
Amy has been employed by Tikki Beach since the first quarter of its Miami operation in 2004, starting as a bartender. She quickly moved into a sales position and has sold and managed over 1000 events to date. Amy has a full-scale knowledge of the event planning business in the yacht charter industry, including sales and marketing, event creation, DJ promotional cruise management, website development, and food and beverage management.
Amy and Debra trademarked ‘ROCK THE YACHT’ which is known for celebrity DJ party cruises in the greater Miami area. In 2014, Amy and Debra launched Elite Bartending School of Fort Lauderdale, which offers mixology courses, show-tending courses, and basic bartending 101 training and certification. (www.EliteBartendingSchoolFortLauderdale.com)
Alex Pino has been in the entertainment history for over 20 years in New York and South Florida, and is the ‘go-to’ entertainment coordinator for South Florida’s party boat industry. He started his career as an MC and DJ, working live on local Miami radio stations. His services were in such high demand and caused him to create Premier Entertainment, today managing over twenty DJs and MCs and all types of bands and live entertainment.