Family Ties with Catalina Noosa

Image source: Contributed

Making happy memories is the key to creating a great legacy. Carlie Wacker meets the trailblazing local family cruising to success through hard work, determination and a dream to create the ultimate space for good times.

The greatest legacy you can leave in life is happy memories and getting to know the family behind Noosa’s iconic MV Catalina Noosa fortified my belief that happiness really is the key to success in life and business. 

For siblings Bree Prince and Tim Norris growing up in Noosa was idyllic – surfing and getting around in the tinnie, making the most of our beautiful waterways and beaches.

“We had the most beautiful life growing up here and that was the number one reason that Timmy and I wanted to come back,” Bree said. 

“After travelling the world, studying and working, we wanted to come back and raise our families here. 

“I had fond memories of going to school and catching the bus every day with all the kids. 

“The bus was wild – it was fun and now my kids are kind of going through the same life experience which is cool. They have these wild bus stories to share with us, which I really love.” 

Bree and husband Scott have three gorgeous children. Tim and his wife Eva (who he met at the Koala Bar – so Noosa!) have two little cuties and gathering them together onboard the boat to chat and take photos you could feel the love.

I discovered this tight knit family are no strangers to joint ventures as Bree previously worked with her other brother in his fashion business. I also noticed the tender way they talk about their family and life and I wish they could bottle that for all to experience. 

Ten years ago when, like Bree, Tim made the decision to relocate his family back to Noosa (to be with the extended crew) they had no idea they would end up in a hospitality business – but that’s where the story of Catalina begins. 

Both families spend lots of time on the river and they would notice the MV Catalina just sitting there – it’s been on the Noosa River for around 20 years. 

They started to explore the idea of buying it and turning it into a more luxurious boat for parties and events as they could see no one was providing this form of luxury cruising. 

“We took it up to Lake Cooroibah at sunset and thought surely people would love to sit here, listen to some music, have a few drinks and good food,” Bree says. “People who don’t have boats don’t get to experience this. So that’s where the idea began.” 

Although people tried to talk them out of it, the trailblazers held their ground. They believed their idea would add value to the Noosa community and they disagreed that with an ageing population there wouldn’t be a market for it. 

I remember the beginning very well – it felt like there was a new culture of coolness coming to town but Bree says their inaugural cruise was quiet. 

“We only sold about five tickets, so we invited family onboard,” says Bree. “It was a good test run.”

The next week they sold 40 tickets, then the following week, 70. 

Within three weeks it had grown to 120 ticket sales and the MV Catalina was slowly cruising to success.  

Add in extra challenges and costs like a major refurbishment that kept the boat out of the water for months, not to mention the impact Covid had on hospitality businesses and it is a testament to the grit and determination of this family unit that the business is still afloat.

“We knew it was always going to be a lot of hard work and we started out serving the food and working behind the bar, doing what we could to make it succeed,” says Tim. 

As the business has grown, they now employ up to 18 staff for sold-out events. 

“A lot of people don’t realize the amount of work it takes us to actually get the boat off the wharf,” Tim said. 

“We have operational staff, which includes marine staff plus hospitality staff, security and administration.

“We’ve spent the last couple years reinvesting heavily into people and processes in the business so, we’ve got a much better understanding now in terms of how the boat runs, the events we need to put on and what people in the community want from the boat as well.”

The people want all that MV Catalina can offer so the business is set to grow even more with epic plans in the works! 

“We have some awesome food and drink collaborations coming up,” Bree shares. “We will continue to offer our spectacular sunset cruises with dancing and cocktails plus introduce our long lunches on the water. 

“Winter is a really beautiful time to enjoy the river so our lunches will provide the same Catalina experience but more refined and relaxed.”

The MV Catalina can also be hired privately for corporate functions, launches, weddings and special events.

MV Catalina Noosa provides the perfect vessel to make happy memories for future generations. Get on board!

About the Author /

Carlie Wacker has worked in the media entertainment industry for over 20 years. From television to stage and radio she has been lucky enough to work her way around the whole country. Over the last 10 years she has styled and choreographed innovative fashion parades and talent shows and brings her love for fashion and entertainment as our Fashion Editor and Editor for Hello Sunshine Magazine. She is also an MC, voice-over artist and radio announcer.

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