PHOTO: The Grand Celebration is scheduled to begin two-night cruises between West Palm Beach and Grand Bahama Island in February. (Courtesy of Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line)
A newly formed company, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, is tentatively set to begin two-night cruises from the Port of Palm Beach to Grand Bahama Island in February.
The 1,800-passenger Grand Celebration will replace the damaged Bahamas Celebration, which remains out of service after striking an underwater object on Halloween.
That ship was operated by Celebration Cruise Line; some of its executives are involved with the new Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, said Glenn Ryerson, who moved to the new company as executive vice president.
"The only connection will be that some of the people who worked at Celebration will have the good fortune to go with the new cruise line," Ryerson said. "We have a lot of new players as well, along with a new ownership group."
The Grand Celebration was built in 1987 as Carnival Cruise Lines' Celebration and formerly operated for Carnival Corp.'s now-closed Iberocruceros brand and was briefly transferred to Costa Cruises in November.
"It's in just beautiful shape," Ryerson said. "The only thing we need to do is brand it."
The company plans to operate two-night cruises departing West Palm Beach at 6 p.m. every other day, arriving in Grand Bahama at 8 a.m. the next morning. It will depart Grand Bahama at 6 p.m. (boarding begins at noon) and arrive back at West Palm Beach at 7 a.m. Resort packages are available at two resorts - Grand Lucayan and Memories - for four to eight nights. Pricing begins at $149 for an interior cabin for the two-night cruise, which also includes meals.
"This is a tremendous day for the Port of Palm Beach and Palm Beach County," said Manuel Almira, executive director for the port. "The MV Grand Celebration is absolutely gorgeous, and we are ecstatic to have this wonderful cruise ship sail out of our port."
Port Chairman Edward Oppel said the agreement with the new company will generate nearly $3.9 million of annual net revenue.
The Grand Celebration has 10 public decks and 751 cabins; more than 60 percent have ocean views and 14 suites have balconies. The ship has five pools and Jacuzzis, a spa and fitness center, a casino and a 950-seat theater. There will be five dining venues. Some will be complimentary with flexible seating, but there will be optional specialty restaurants with cover charges, Ryerson said.
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