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Update (July 2013)Read about a new one-day cruise to Bimini service between Miami and Bimini.
Update (March 2013)Read an update about the launch of the Balearia Bahamas Express service between Miami and Bimini.
Back in July, Balearia Bahamas Express announced it would soon commence a jet-powered high-speed ferry service between the Port of Miami and the Bimini Bay Resort & Marina on the island of Bimini. The new service was met with interest and anticipation from the travel community, since the two-hour ferry trip would present an appealing alternative to travel by air. As the mid-July start date grew closer, the inaugural voyage was changed to mid-August. Now a third adjustment has been announced.
“We still have some unresolved issues at the Port of Bimini, so we are going to start the line with the fast ferry from the Port of Miami to Grand Bahama Island next month (in October),” said Karen Garrigos McCarthy, operations manager for Balearia Bahamas Express. “At this time we do not know when we will start going to Bimini. Our plan is to offer service to both destinations from Miami.”
The Balearia Bahamas Express will make two roundtrips a day. The ferry will depart Port of Miami’s Terminal J at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. and depart Freeport Harbour, Grand Bahama Island at 12 p.m. and 10 p.m. The crossing from Miami to Freeport takes around two hours.
The vessel carries 450 passengers. Onboard amenities include a cafe bar, a duty-free store and a casino. Luggage will be handled and screened on Balearia Bahamas Express.
“We do not have weight restrictions but, of course, there is security,” said McCarthy. “Our policy in Spain is that each passenger has to carry his or her own luggage onboard in one trip.”
Balearia Bahamas Express will be offering four classes of roundtrip fares: the Excursion fare, at $99; the Excursion VIP, at $130; the Economy Class, at $150 and First Class, at $180. Additional charges comprise a Bahamas Departure Tax of $18 and a fuel surcharge of $13.50. Children age 6 and under travel at no charge. Balearia Bahamas Express will also pay commission to travel agents.
Passengers will be able to check schedules and book tickets on the Balearia Bahamas Ferry website. The site is still be under construction and presently carries information on Balearia’s Mediterranean ferry services, which are more extensive than the Miami/Bahamas service. For example, unlike the company’s Mediterranean service, the Balearia Bahamas Express will not have facilities for bringing vehicles onboard and pets will be excluded from the voyage. Questions can be directed to [email protected]
The shift from Bimini to Grand Bahama Island has the potential to appeal to more travelers. The family-friendly island is only 55 miles east of Florida. The island has several national parks, dive facilities, gaming and opportunities to swim with dolphins at Sanctuary Bay. There are also a wide range of accommodations choices, including an all-inclusive option at Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach All-Inclusive Resort. Freeport, where the ferry docks, also offers duty-free shopping.
McCarthy also noted that, in the event that the U.S. eases travel restrictions to Cuba, Balearia will consider the possibility of offering ferry service to Cuba. This would hearken back to the glory days of Florida/Cuba travel, during the 1940s and 50s, when tourists would make the quick trip by sea from Miami to Havana.