NEW YORK -- Grand Bahama-bound travelers will get another
transportation option come fall with the scheduled Nov. 1 return of
daily, high-speed ferry service from the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.,
New market entrant Bahamas Florida Express promises two-hour
travel times between Port Everglades, Fla., and Grand Bahama Island
via a 900-person, 320-foot, high-speed ferry leased from Bay
Ferries of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, which provides similar service
each summer between that Canadian province and Maine.
The only competing ferry service is a daily, five-hour-plus day
cruise from Port Everglades to Freeport, which is operated by
Discovery Cruise Lines aboard its 1,210-passenger Discovery
George Bradley, vice president and chief marketing officer at
Bahamas Florida Express, said his firm's fully commissionable,
roundtrip fares of between $129 and $189 per person will be about
40% cheaper than air fares on the same route.
And Bahamas Florida Express also will offer a 40% discount for
children ages 3 to 17 through Dec. 18; lower Fun Day Fares of about
$99 roundtrip are in the works.
Daily departures to Grand Bahama will leave Port Everglades'
Terminal One at 4 p.m., with return trips from Freeport that arrive
in Florida at 9:30 a.m.
Attractions aboard the ferry will include a TV and movie lounge,
a casino, a cafe, a bar and a duty-free gift shop.
Although commission levels had not been determined at press
time, Bradley said agent pay "would be very generous."
"Every rate we ever offer will be totally commissionable, and
there will be an incentives scale based upon performance," he said.
"We certainly are going to market to everyone who's
tourism-related, including tour operators and travel agents."
Despite two failed past attempts at high-speed service on the
same route by other ferry operators, Bradley said Bahamas Florida
Express stands a better chance thanks to its high-tech equipment --
which travels at 50 mph -- and recent market developments.
"We're benefitting from the facts that Starwood Resorts put its
Westin and Sheraton flags on Our Lucaya, where a new casino is
going to open at about the same time that we begin operations; that
the Royal Oasis [Golf Resort and Casino] has undergone a renovation
program; and that the Bahamian government is promoting us," he
"In addition, Americans are looking to travel a little closer to
home, and the proximity of the Bahamas to the U.S. works very much
in our favor."
Bahamas Florida Express also is exploring the possibility of
several trips weekly between Florida and Nassau, according to
Agents looking to book the new boat will have to sit tight,
however, as Bahamas Florida Express won't have its call center and
Web site -- to feature online booking -- up and running until early
To contact reporter Kenneth Kiesnoski, send e-mail to [email protected].