Model Cruises sails out of business


NEWPORT — Bikinis aren’t going out of style, but a bikini charter boat is going out of business.

Model Cruises had said that on June 1 it would begin charging about $200 an hour for customers to board a yacht in Newport Harbor and enjoy the company of women dancing in tiny two-pieces.

But sometime over the holiday weekend, the owner announced that the new business was dead in the water.

“Due to a lack of reservations, Model Cruises will not be operating this summer in Newport. There does not appear to be enough demand for this business to sustain the cost of running the boat,” read an announcement on the company’s Web site. “Any and all reservations already paid will be refunded in full. Sorry for any inconvenience.”

Owner Shaun Sullivan, of New Hampshire, told The Journal earlier this month that he would ferry passengers from a wharf in Newport to his yacht in the harbor, or for larger groups, to a more spacious vessel he didn’t own. He declined to divulge the names of the boats, their locations or the wharf where he would pick up and drop off passengers to assure privacy for his clients.

One Web site for Model Cruises listed the address of Old Port Marine’s harbor launch service, but the manager said he had no business relationship with Model Cruises and contacted the business to object. He and the city’s harbormaster, Timothy Mills, said that other wharf owners apparently had no relationship with Model Cruises and they questioned whether the business had actually firmed up how it would get passengers to its yachts.

Sullivan said he had initially planned to serve alcohol for free without a liquor license until a state liquor administrator advised him he would need a license. He had said earlier in May that he wasn’t sure if he would apply for one.

Sullivan said there would be no nudity or private rooms. He couldn’t be reached for comment on Tuesday.

In a posting on The Journal’s Web site over the weekend, Sullivan wrote, that a “lack of interest” killed the Newport venture. “The town is full of visiting old folks, stuffy people and is not conducive to having a good time.”

Mayor Jeanne-Marie Napolitano had questioned whether Model Cruises would operate as innocently as it purported it would, and Evan Smith, CEO and president of the Newport County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said it did not complement the city’s traditional tourism industry.