Last updated: 03:00 AM ET, Wed April 29 2015

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  • Amber Nolan | April 29, 2015 3:00 AM ET

    What's the Difference Between the Bahamas Celebration and Grand Celebration?

    What's the Difference Between the Bahamas Celebration and Grand Celebration?

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    In October 2014 the Bahamas Celebration, operated by Celebration Cruise Line, struck an object during a voyage to Grand Bahama Island. Passengers were evacuated and the ship — although afloat — was damaged beyond repair. A new company, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, was quickly formed and a new vessel, the Grand Celebration, was acquired. The two companies, Celebration Cruise Line and Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, have a number of similarities; however Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line has improved on its predecessor’s concept.

    The Grand Celebration will continue the same two-night itinerary previously offered by Bahamas Celebration from the Port of Palm Beach to Grand Bahama Island. Both websites have a similar look, and the popular cruise-and-stay packages at Grand Lucayan Resort are still available to passengers of Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line. These options allow guests to disembark the vessel in Freeport and stay on the island for two, four, or six nights and then re-board the ship for the return voyage to the Port of Palm Beach. Many staff members from Bahamas Celebration joined the crew of the Grand Celebration for the inaugural season.

    The boarding process at the Port of Palm Beach is almost identical: after check in, passengers pass through a series of booths to purchase alcohol packages, shore excursions (which can also be purchased onboard), and to reserve a seating time at dinner. However, the moment passengers step onboard they can feel the difference.

    For starters, the 1,900-passenger Grand Celebration is an actual cruise ship that first sailed under Carnival Corporation, where the 1,200-passenger Bahamas Celebration was a converted passenger ferry. There’s a lot more space to roam and 251 more cabins, not to mention significantly more space in the interior rooms. The smallest, lowest-priced rooms on Bahamas Celebration were only 86 square feet — Grand Celebration’s interiors have an impressive 172 square feet.

    Like Bahamas Celebration, the Grand Celebration has three clubs for kids, including one teen center, but the new ship lacks the massive waterslide and splash area that Bahamas Celebration had offered. The kid’s pool has two small slides and an outdated play area surrounding it. However, there are two other pools on the ship with loungers, tables, and games like bean bag toss, air hockey, and foosball to provide additional entertainment.

    The dining on Grand Celebration is a significant improvement: the buffet has a number of healthy choices, and an excellent salad bar. There’s also a specialty coffee shop and two sit-down restaurants (one is an extra charge) with a three-course, and five-course menu. However, an ice cream shop — a popular choice for kids on Bahamas Celebration — does not exist on Grand Celebration. (There are smoothies available from the coffee shop).

    Regularly-scheduled evening shows are all included in the fare on Grand Celebration, and with a massive 850-seat theater, numerous indoor lounges, and an open-air stage on the top deck with an artificial grass lawn, the ship is primed for live entertainment. Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line is trying something new by offering big-name acts and events on select voyages (additional charge applies) including: the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight, KT Tunstall in concert, the Marshall Tucker Band, and Suzanne Vega in concert.

    Passengers are encouraged to enter the Grand Celebration’s Facebook promotion by posting photos of their vacation (for a chance at a free cruise). To do so, the company is offering the lowest unlimited internet rates of a mainstream cruise: just $6 per day.

    Lastly, perhaps the most important difference in the two cruise lines is that Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line is slowly distancing itself from the “free cruise promotion” offered on Celebration Cruise Line. This “giveaway” from a third-party provider required passengers to attend a lengthy and aggressive time share presentation that was not well-received by cruisers. Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line is honoring existing “winners,” but is no longer taking part in this promotion. This refreshing announcement means the new company is well on its way to offering a solid product and quality experience for vacationers.

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Amber Nolan Captain’s Blog: Cruise Tips and Advice

Amber Nolan Amber Nolan loves to be on the water, and although she enjoys the fun and excitement of larger cruise ships, she prefers setting sail on smaller vessels to unique destinations. Originally from western New York, this restless traveler has a knack for finding creative ways to travel and befriending interesting characters along the way. On her most recent adventure, she hitchhiked on private aircraft across the United States. She previously served as the cruise editor at Sherman’s Travel but her work can also be found on and USA Today Travel. She current resides in South Florida.
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