Captain Nick Kutscera aboard his charter boat Eastern Star at...

Captain Nick Kutscera aboard his charter boat Eastern Star at the Glen Cove Ferry Terminal in Garvies Point, Sunday, May 1, 2022. Credit: Jeff Bachner

The 2022 season already looks better for a Glen Cove charter yacht company that’s weathered 9/11, the financial crash of 2008 and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Glen Cove City Council approved a new licensing agreement last week allowing Eastern Star Cruises use of the city’s new ferry terminal from May 1 through April 30, 2023. The terminal, which was envisioned as a departure point for commuters to Manhattan, is available because no other ferry service is operating at the site.

When the company moved to Glen Cove in 2019 from Chelsea Piers in Manhattan, it looked like smooth sailing ahead as the husband and wife team of Nick Kutscera and Laurie Smollett Kutscera established themselves at the terminal. Then the coronavirus threatened to founder their business.

“In 2019 we were just building a reputation on Long Island, and by the end of that year it was looking really promising for the following year,” said Kutscera.

The pandemic totally shut them down in 2020, and last year they resumed business, but events were smaller, she said. The company received a $20,000 Paycheck Protection Program loan under the federal COVID stimulus program, according to Newsday’s database of PPP loans.

“We just kind of had to start over again,” Smollett Kutscera said. “So we’re hoping this year, things start opening up.”

The temporary license “will not … materially interfere with the future proposed ferry service,” the agreement stated.

“They’re back up and they’re ready for business and we’re excited about it,” said Mayor Pamela Panzenbeck. “It’s a beautiful boat.”

The company agreed to pay $18,000 for the year in monthly installments of $2,500 in summer and early fall and $500 a month in winter and spring. The annual fee has increased since it was first approved in 2019 at $15,000.

The yacht can hold up to 70 passengers, and three- to four-hour cruises cost between $6,000 and $20,000 depending on the size of the party, menu and other variables, Smollett Kutscera said. Last year, chartered cruises tended to be for family parties of 20 to 30 people, she said. This year they’re receiving inquiries and bookings for more corporate events and parties of 40 to 60 people, she added.

“I think we're out of the woods,” Smollett Kutscera said.

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