By Demola Ojo
Sitting pretty on the banks of the Lagos Lagoon in Victoria Island is a huge, brand new cruise ship, Eugene 1. Constructed in 2017 and brought to Nigeria after a 45-day voyage from Turkey as the first in the stable of Hi-Impact Cruise, the $700,000 watercraft is a beauty to behold, inside and out.
Hi-Impact Cruise is another arm of Solutions Media, a company which started business in 2011 and has distinguished itself over the years in the entertainment and tourism sector.
Following the success of Hi-Impact Planet, an amusement park on the outskirts of Lagos, Hi-Impact Cruise is another opportunity for Solutions Media to prove its mettle in a venture that hardly anyone has dared to undertake in these climes.
Set for launch in the coming weeks, Hi-Impact Cruise will do four-hour voyages along Lagos waters. Boasting a capacity of up to 1000 depending on the sitting arrangement, the three-tiered ship with a penthouse, is perfect for private parties, including weddings, which is a big industry in Nigeria’s commercial and entertainment capital.
Speaking recently during a tour of the ship’s facilities at the newly-constructed lounge where passengers mingle before boarding, chairman of Solutions Media, Prince Adeyanju Lipede, said the company is offering Nigerian fun lovers the opportunity to enjoy in Lagos what they travel outside the country for, thus helping to save foreign exchange.
He did a brief recount of his company’s exploits before intimating those gathered on what Eugene 1 has to offer. “We have been in entertainment. We have done it in Nigeria and we have done it outside Nigeria. Now we have come back.
“In 2013, we singlehandedly handled The Experience in terms of audio and lights. We still have the best equipment in that area. Even in visuals, the company has the most expensive set of equipment, both light and video cameras, including a studio which is for animation.”
He also talked about Hi-Impact for Creative Kids and the amusement park. “We impactfully influence any sector of the economy that we find ourselves in which is entertainment and tourism.
“We have a company registered in Dubai. We had the biggest and the most successful African entertainment show called Dance Afrique which other people are now trying to emulate and follow.
“We then went to London and repeated that twice at the SSE Arena. We were the first Africans to be allowed to use the place and we did it successfully.”
The international experience has come in handy he said.
Prince Lipede wants to make sure Nigerians don’t have to travel for a cruise experience. “We are making sure that all the facilities that would make you comfortable are inside here.
“There will be lots of entertainment; there will be good food, nice ambience, fully air-conditioned inside. It has enough banquet sitting capacity. It is between 500 to 700 hundred persons depending on the sitting arrangement.
“If we are doing cinema sitting, it will take up to 1100. It is going to cruise only four hours every weekend or any time that we have a cruise and we move around to see Lagos.”
Bringing Eugene 1 to Nigeria is in line with the federal and state governments’ vision to enhancing tourism as a means of generating revenue, he continued. “Basically, we’re also beautifying Lagos.”
Despite a few hitches, Prince Lipede has been encouraged by the Nigerian authorities, even though the venture and how it should be regulated is new to one or two agencies.
“I must put it on record that NIWA has been very good. NIMASA too has been very good even though we’ve had to help them because there was no template for them to follow. LASWA also has been supportive of recent.”
But Lipede reveals that there are still stumbling blocks to be surmounted for Eugene 1 to commence business.
“When the government talks about tourism, there must be some kind of rebate or incentives, especially because the government sees tourism as a means of diversifying the economy. But the support is not coming.”
He is especially discouraged by the attitude of the Nigerian Customs who seem to be the agency in the way of full operation.
“We pay duty. Is this the same yacht as Otedola’s own? Why tell us to pay the same duty or surcharge? That is ridiculous. It’s high time we call our people to order so they don’t discourage people doing business.
“This is not a hired boat. This is a Nigerian boat owned by a Nigerian without any foreign investment. Do you know the number of Nigerians that will work there? In our company today, we have more than 200 graduates,” he revealed.
By and large, Lipede sees a bright future for his company’s new venture and expects loads of patronage. “A lot of the expatriates in Lagos have this where they come from. Now they will get to experience something just as good in Lagos.”
The patronage won’t be limited to within Nigeria, he believes. “When we were getting this boat, we wanted to make sure it would be something people outside of Nigeria will come to the country to experience.”
All that’s left now is for final details to be sorted, Hi-Impact Cruise to officially open and for Eugene 1 to cast off.