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6 mins read

L’esprit Cruises: Launching The First Black Owned Fleet of Eco-Friendly Super Yachts

Fueled by a lifelong passion for yachting and over 28 years of expertise in the cruise and tours industries, Gordon Merritt, co-founder of L’esprit Cruises, is setting out to redefine luxury experiences and make them more accessible.

Inspired by the comfort and customization of private yacht charters, L’esprit is developing a unique alternative to traditional cruises. This innovative concept reimagines the day cruise, allowing guests to explore the Caribbean coastline in style and comfort, all while enjoying the unparalleled amenities of a superyacht.

Currently seeking investors to fuel their growth and bring this unique experience to life, L’esprit Cruises aims to fill a gap in the travel industry, offering a more accessible and personalized option for luxury travel enthusiasts.

In this interview, Gordon Merritt shares his inspiration, the gap L’esprit aims to fill, and the unique offerings that set the company apart. Additionally, we’ll explore L’esprit’s commitment to sustainable practices and their vision for the future.

L'Esprit cruises

What is the inspiration behind L’esprit Cruises? 

Ever since I cruised on my first private yacht, I’ve been in love with the possibility of owning one myself. After I bought my first 36ft cabin cruiser, I wanted to learn everything I could about passenger boats and what I would have to do to become rich in the passenger cruise industry.

To learn the cruise industry in detail, I decided that the only way to do it was to start my own Travel Company. Debbi and I spent the next 27 years creating an award-winning company booking customers on the most reputable cruise lines, charter yachts, and arranging luxury Excursions and Tours all over the world.

We discovered that Charter Yachts gave the highest level of cruising pleasure than any other passenger ship. Chartering a yacht just for you and your guests to enjoy is very different from a cruise ship vacation, as it is tailored just for your preferences along with your itinerary, your excursions, your chef, a staff that waits on you hand and foot, and the ability to stay in one place longer if you like or leave early if a destination disappoints.

The problem is, chartering a yacht is expensive and, because of that, very few people will have the opportunity to experience it. BUT WHAT IF……Super Yachts were introduced into the Tours and Activities market? The answer to that question is what created the L’esprit  Superyacht Day Cruise concept.

What insights can you share about the Tours and Activities segment of the Travel Industry?

The Tours and Activities market is defined as the amount of money travelers spend on destinations while traveling – including tours, attractions, events, activities (not including dining and shopping), and transportation.

The global market for Tours and Activities bookings was $157 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach a revised size of $264.4 billion by 2030. In comparison, the cruise industry worldwide generated $13.6 billion in revenue in 2022, with the U.S. being the largest contributor in terms of paying passengers.

Many resellers of Tours & Activities have launched and online travel’s biggest brands (including Expedia, Airbnb, and TripAdvisor) have moved into this space. All are fueling astonishing sector growth and travel activities are positioned to reach $183 billion by 2020.

Vacationers want to experience something new and are tired of the same old tours and activities. The truth is, that the tours and activities space is undergoing a radical reinvention of what exactly it means to experience something new on vacation.

L'Esprit cruises

What specific details, services, or amenities set L’Esprit apart, especially for those seeking a refined travel experience?

L’esprit plans to offer an exclusive experience tailored for refined travelers. Picture indulging in the coastal charm of an island destination from the opulent confines of a super yacht, accommodating 300-500 passengers. With flexible boarding and disembarking via water taxis, guests can tailor their experience.

During the daytime cruise, guests can enjoy sightseeing, dining, entertainment, spa services, swimming, and sunbathing. As twilight descends, the Sunset Cruise will continue the enchanting journey along the shoreline, promising unparalleled luxury and leisure.

What environmental initiatives are in place or planned to promote sustainable operations?

To promote sustainable operations, L’esprit Yacht will implement state-of-the-art and eco-friendly measures. For example, each ship will feature hybrid electric main engines. Additionally, they will utilize Wingsail propulsion known as Oceanwings®, eliminating the need to activate main engines for propulsion.

Pod Propeller Systems and Bow Thrusters will enable the use of Dynamic Positioning Systems instead of anchors, preserving seabeds and coral reefs. Furthermore, a desalination plant will convert salt water into fresh water, and pump-out stations on land will be utilized instead of waste dumping into the sea.

What are your future plans for the company?

The big picture of L’esprit Superyacht Day Cruises is to build into the largest, and most profitable Day Cruise line in the world.

L’espirit Cruises Business Summary

5 mins read

Black Owned Luxury Hotel, Jnane Tamsna Hosting Writers Retreat in Morocco for Black Authors

Jnane Tamsna is the only Black woman-owned luxury hotel resort located in the lush date palm forest of Marrakech, Morocco.

In partnership with Parea Books, Jnane Tamsna is launching the Philoxenia retreats, an Immersive Literature & Writing Retreat for four esteemed authors in a series of generative creative writing workshops that explore themes of self-expansion, societal revolution, cultural presence, and embodiment.

Jnane Tamsna

The workshops ( January 6th to 11th 2023) will be complemented by cultural activities, including private tours of the city’s majestic medina and sojourns to secret gardens within the city’s walls.

This will be a space to discover, create, reflect, and develop relationships with people across borders, cultures, and backgrounds.


Cleyvis Natera

Cleyvis Natera is an essayist, short fiction writer, critic and novelist. Her debut novel Neruda on the Park was an anticipated book of 2022 by TIME, the Today Show, Good Morning America’s Zibby Owens, ELLE. Upon publication, Neruda on the Park was selected as a May 2022 New York Times Editor’s Choice.

Camille T. Dungy
Camille T. Dungy is an author, poet and scholar. Author of four collections of poetry, most recently Trophic Cascade (Wesleyan UP, 2017), winner of the Colorado Book Award. Her debut collection of personal essays is Guidebook to Relative Strangers (W. W. Norton, 2017), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Dungy is currently a Professor in the English Department at Colorado State University.
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is the New York Times-bestselling author of Friday Black. Originally from Spring Valley, New York, he graduated from SUNY Albany and received his MFA from Syracuse University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming from numerous publications, including the New York Times Book Review, Literary Hub, the Paris Review. He is the winner of the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award.
Tanaïs is the author of In Sensorium: Notes for My People, a finalist for the 2022 Kirkus Prize, and the critically acclaimed novel Bright Lines, which was a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award, and the Brooklyn Eagles Literary Prize. TANAÏS is based in New York City.


Meryanne Loum-Martin is the owner of Jnane Tamsna. We caught up with her to find out more about this exciting cultural experience.
Jnane Tamsna
Meryanne Loum-Martin

Why is this retreat important to you?

In a world where so many deserve to be seen but still are not, in a corporate space where to reach the same level, we are expected to stand out: we need our voice.

Curated by our mind, customized by our uniqueness, and enriched by our experience, our voice is our personal tool for change,  growth, and impact.

With our Philoxenia retreats, we want to learn from prominent storytellers and writers of color.

Jnane Tamsna is a space in which energy, style, and architecture have “ de facto” been a catalyst for transformative experiences. It favors a remarkable connection between people.

It is important for me to bring this efficient and educational tool to the immense construction site which is diversity, inclusion, and equity.

How can people support this event?

There are 3 ways:

  1. Individuals can book the retreat.
  2. Corporations can send employees. The unique bond of this shared experience will impact the conversation back in the office.
  3. Donations to The Global Diversity Foundation will pay for their airfare and a small stipend of up to 10 young writers. Most of them coming from HBCUs. Jnane Tamsna will offer them room and board.

Please contact for more information.


8 mins read

Tastemakers Africa: Giving You a “Taste” of an Africa You’ve Never Seen

When you think of travel to Africa, what is the first image that pops into your mind? Probably something to do with wildlife and so-called jungles.

If you are like a growing number of people, you now imagine the breathtaking views, delicious food and cool places to hangout. One person responsible for this change in perception is Cherae Robinson, NY – native and founder of Tastemakers Africa. We had a chat with her and this is what she had to say:

Tastemakers AfricaI’m Cherae Robinson, founder of Tastemakers Africa and a graduate of Morgan State University. Prior to starting my business, I worked in international development focused on partnerships and fundraising in the agriculture and women’s empowerment sectors. I currently split my time between Brooklyn, NY and the African continent.

Tastemakers Africa

SB: What ignited your passion for travel in Africa?

CR: I’ve always been a Pan-Africanist at heart, I believe in the power of connecting Black people from different perspectives all around the world and I believe in reversing the effects of colonialism and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade through economic, social, and artistic exchange between people of African descent.

Tastemakers Africa

On my first trip to the continent, I was enveloped with love. Music, food, and an energy that was both fascinating and familiar made me feel at once a welcomed visitor and a long lost member of the family.


Tastemakers Africa

This was my experience in every place I went, whether it was the beaches outside of Freetown, Sierra Leone or the trendy vibes of Maboneng and the Johannesburg CBD in South Africa.

While this notion was a common thread, the vibes and experiences themselves were unique. There was so much uncelebrated diversity across Africa that I was tapping into with each country I touched down in.

Tastemakers Africa
With an often times unappealing narrative on Africa so prevalent on a global scale, I realized that travel to the continent offered a huge unlock, especially for people of African descent.

Tastemakers Africa

My goal is accelerate this on a global scale and in an experiential way. People are shaped most by their own lived experiences and travel to and within the continent has the opportunity to inform and transform us all.

Tastemakers Africa


SB: When most people think of vacation activities in Africa, they think of going on a Safari. What kind of experiences do you provide?

CR: Tastemakers Africa focuses on premium, authentic experiences. This can be anything from a pop-up dinner with a local chef to a road trip to a jaw-dropping landscape photography lesson from a local creative.

We seek to transform and carefully blend opportunities to learn about cultures (think batik fabrik making with one of Ghana’s hottest fashion designers in Accra) to more active experiences like joining the dhow boat race in Lamu, Kenya with a champagne finish on a private island or VIP access to the most exclusive party in town.

For us it’s about charting your own experience, with our carefully curated suggestions, on demand.

Tastemakers Africa

SB: Those all sound amazing! How are you able to find all these cool places and activities in multiple countries?

CR: We have local creatives and experience scouts who serve as our local curation network. Their job is to not only find the experiences and things to do but to put them through our screening process.

Getting the rubber stamp from our insiders means a lot to us, they are the funnel that brings things onto our radar and strengthen our relationships with business owners and experience providers in each city we operate in.

Finally – our instagram followers and TSTMKRS app users are a constant source of new ideas and happenings.

Tastemakers Africa

SB: Many African governments are depending on their tourism sector to help reduce the reliance on commodities like oil for revenue. Have you introduced your business to any government officials? What was the reception like?

CR: Government has not been a primary focus though in some cases tourism boards have been our allies.

We’ve got a great relationship with South Africa Tourism and Kenyan Tourism yet others don’t see the promise of the millennial market or really aren’t ready to commit as much budget towards their tourism budgets as they might say in the news.

Tastemakers Africa

SB: What are your growth plans for your brand?

CR: This year we’re focused on actually getting to market and making the TSTMKRS app public, we’re adding new curators and suppliers to really get the threshold of experiences available matching the appetite for our existing users.

Tastemakers Africa

In the product itself, we’ve got some exciting new features that will make it the app you “can’t put down” whether you are actively planning a trip or just dreaming about one – unfortunately I can’t release all of the details around that just yet, but soon come!

Tastemakers Africa

SB: What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

CR: Spend a crap ton of time understanding your customer segments and their behaviors. I wish I would’ve done 10 skillshares or General Assembly courses on what this means from day 1.

It’ll save you time and resources to really be unreasonably solid about what your customer actually wants.

Tastemakers Africa

Entrepreneurship is a journey. The silicon valley startups you read about have often been at it longer than you would’ve imagined and nothing will go exactly as you’ve planned. Be flexible and have endurance.

Tastemakers Africa

Also, compete with yourself. Once you start your business, everyone else will want to start the same one, existing businesses will start pivoting into your “territory,” and people will be lazy and compare you to businesses doing “better” than you even if said businesses are only marginally related.

Don’t get caught up. Your inability to know what your customers want and innovate beyond that are your biggest enemies.

Tastemakers Africa