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Intending to resume operations in the Caribbean this summer, like several other companies, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line (BPCL) plans to start its cruises back up beginning July 2, 2021. The brand will do so with its now singular ship, Grand Classica, following the sale and scrapping of its former fleet-mate, Grand Celebration.
Rather than sailing from a foreign port, BPCL is scheduling its return from the Port of Palm Beach in Riviera Beach, Fla. To prepare, the brand has relaunched its website and has begun taking bookings for its first cruises back.
Here, Kevin Sheehan Jr., president of BPCL, expands on the line’s upcoming plans.
How does reducing the fleet from two ships to one change the brand’s scheduling and sales approach?Given that it was always our intention to bring back one ship at a time and focus primarily on Grand Bahama Island as our destination, the decision to reduce our fleet will actually streamline our operations once we resume.
To see our most up-to-date details on Grand Classica and our sailing schedule, advisors should visit our website.
How does BPCL intend to sail from Florida by July, given that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still has not lifted its Conditional Sail Order? Are you optimistic that it will lift the restrictions by then?Although the past year has been challenging for the cruise industry as a whole, we remain hopeful that the CDC’s further communications regarding the Conditional Sail Order will provide a clear guide to the healthy commencement of cruising soon.
We’ve also seen a strong push for the resumption of cruising from leaders like Govenor Ron DeSantis and Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott [all of Florida]. With the overall increase in COVID-19 vaccinations and the reopening of the Bahamas to travelers, we are optimistic [about having] a clear path toward the resumption of service by mid-summer.
As an independent line, do BPCL's restart plans and health protocols differ at all from those of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)?As an independent, family-owned and operated cruise line, we have the flexibility to appropriately adjust our health and safety protocols to ensure the overall well-being of our guests and crew.
As an industry, I believe all the cruise lines are going above and beyond anything that other industries are doing — both inside and outside the hospitality space.
As the first cruise line to receive “green” status from the CDC on our No Sail Order response plan last year, we are confident that our stringent health and safety standards will provide a safe environment for our guests and crew. We are also prepared to make adjustments as needed as the science develops and we better understand the impact of vaccinations and their effectiveness.
What modifications to the guest experience can clients expect onboard and onshore, temporarily or permanently?While our onboard and onshore experiences may look a little different, we remain passionate about providing our guests with memorable travel experiences. We’re implementing a list of stringent health and safety protocols across our fleet so that travelers can enjoy a micro-cation to paradise without stressing over health risks.
We’re implementing a list of stringent health and safety protocols across our fleet so that travelers can enjoy a micro-cation to paradise without stressing over health risks.
Updated procedures include reduced capacity onboard, as well as assigned arrival times and online check-in procedures to ensure a safe, efficient embarkation. Self-service buffet stations have been suspended; all food and beverages will be served by crew members wearing face masks, hats, aprons and disposable gloves. Tables and seating areas will keep guests six feet apart to facilitate social distancing.
[The number of] casino players per table will be restricted to ensure social distancing, and slot machines will be positioned to separate players. Tour buses for excursions will initially be reduced to 50% capacity and sanitized frequently.
The comfort of our guests also played into our decision to resume sailing onboard Grand Classica, which boasts a high guest-to-space ratio on deck and fewer staterooms to help our guests and crew easily maintain social distancing.
What is the situation in the Bahamas as it prepares to accept cruise visitors again? Tourism is a major lifeline for the Bahamas, and we’ve been working closely with the Bahamian government as we prepare to return to Grand Bahama Island. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the island has continued its efforts to rebuild its infrastructure after the destruction of Hurricane Dorian, and after more than a year, the Bahamas is excited and ready to welcome back visitors. A few of the island’s travel protocols and requirements include proof of a negative PCR test result within five days of the traveler’s vacation; obtaining a Bahamas Travel Health Visa; and an additional rapid COVID-19 antigen test if staying in the Bahamas for longer than four nights and five days.
How can travel agents best gear up for Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line’s return to sailing? Are there any booking incentives?Although our sailing operations won’t resume until July, we are in the process of rolling out various incentives that will benefit our travel advisor partners.
We understand the vital role that they play in the success of our business, which is why we are proud to introduce a BOGO (Buy One, Get One Free) offer with five free drinks — an unbeatable deal that will help travel advisors sell to their customers and take advantage of our high commission rates.
In addition, we are bringing back our unique Cruise & Stay program, allowing guests to experience the destination at an all-inclusive resort in addition to cruising to and from Grand Bahama Island. These four- and six-night premium all-inclusive packages are ideal for both agents and guests alike.
We also have our Sail with Ease Policy, which allows advisors to offer their clients peace of mind when booking a cruise with us. Through this policy, guests have the option to reschedule their cruise at no additional cost or receive a full refund.
The DetailsBahamas Paradise Cruise Linewww.bahamasparadisecruise.com
The Official Website of the Bahamaswww.bahamas.com