Restaurant Shuts to Takes All Employees on Royal Caribbean Cruise

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The owner of a popular seafood restaurant in Tybee Island, Georgia shut the business down for a week in January to take every employee on a cruise vacation.

Pier 16 is normally open seven days a week with great service and a fantastic reputation thanks to its hard-working employees, and co-owner Natalia Navon wanted to recognize that work with a well-deserved break.

Employees Rewarded With Cruise Vacation

Pier 16 is a family-owned restaurant offering the very best in fresh seafood just one block from the beach in Tybee Island, Georgia. The establishment, which opened in September 2020, prides itself on is family-friendly environment with two outdoor decks, a rooftop bar, and cornhole and giant Jenga games for patrons to enjoy.

The heart of that family atmosphere is the restaurant’s own family, the employees who go above and beyond to ensure every customer has a great experience along with spectacular menu options to enjoy, such as southern fried green tomatoes, garlic parmesan oysters, crab-stuffed mushrooms, low country boil, Cajun salmon, and much more. Salads, burgers, and steaks are also on the menu.

To reward the efforts of all employees, co-owner Natalia Navon and her husband take the entire team on a vacation every year, closing down the restaurant to be sure no one misses out.

“If I’m going on a vacation I would feel like my employees would want to take a vacation too,” Navon said of the tradition.

Pier 16 was closed from January 6-14 while all employees enjoyed a cruise to Mexico aboard Royal Caribbean International’s Mariner of the Seas.

The 5-night voyage departed Port Canaveral, Florida on January 6, with visits to Costa Maya and Cozumel, as well as two days at sea to enjoy all the Voyager-class vessel has to offer. Previous team trips have included going to Las Vegas as well as to The Bahamas.

“When I first started, it was only a story I heard and next thing you know, I was in Mexico with these guys,” said Matthew Rodriguez, one of the lucky employees on this year’s cruise. “It was amazing.”

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship
Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas (Photo Credit: Melissa Mayntz)

The 139,863-gross-ton Mariner of the Seas can welcome 3,114 guests at double occupancy, or as many as 3,807 travelers when fully booked. The ship is homeported from Port Canaveral, offering a mix of 4- and 5-night Bahamas and Western Caribbean itineraries, as well as occasional longer sailings.

Mariner of the Seas will reposition to Galveston in early May to offer exclusively Western Caribbean sailings to Cozumel on the 4-night cruises and both Cozumel and Costa Maya on the 5-night itineraries.

Employees That Play Together, Stay Together

Leadership studies have proven that shared relaxation time can be a powerful team-building exercise, allowing employees to connect to one another in ways beyond their job duties.

“This trip we got to learn a lot about each other … It’s one house … We are a big old family,” said Pier 16 employee Joseph Runfola.

Employees of Pier 16 Enjoying Their Cruise
Employees of Pier 16 Enjoying Their Cruise

These types of connections can lead to greater job satisfaction, better performance reviews, and longer job retention, making them a smart decision for any business.

Response from the restaurant’s patrons has been overwhelmingly positive, with many frequent customers happy to support a local establishment that treats employees so well and complimenting the dedication of the owners.

Many people who have learned of the annual tradition have jokingly quipped about whether or not the restaurant was hiring, but in fact, they are currently seeking line cooks.

Pier 16 offers competitive pay and health insurance, as well as benefits such as free parking and free lunch – not to mention cruises.

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