Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line will begin bringing tourists back to Grand Bahama this weekend in hopes of restarting the island’s economic engine, said the company’s Chief Executive Officer Oneil Khosa, who added that the cruise line will begin sailing to Nassau in mid-October and allow passengers to overnight.
Khosa explained that given the state of Grand Bahama after the passage of Hurricane Dorian, the island cannot sustain two of Bahamas Paradise’s ships.
“Given the situation on Grand Bahama, until it gets fully up and running, we have decided to divert one of our ships to Nassau,” he said.
Therefore, the company has decided to begin sailing one ship to Nassau and partner with hotels to allow the same sail-and-stay packages it has come to be known for in Grand Bahama.
“We are a very different cruise line than a typical cruise line,” said Khosa.
“We differentiate ourselves on two main parameters. We are the only cruise line that goes from the U.S. to The Bahamas and back. We don’ t have any other destinations.
“And we have cruise and stay. We allow passengers to get off and we market packages together with our hotel partners. We allow them to get off the ship and stay for six nights or longer and come back on the cruise with us.”
According to Khosa, Nassuvians will now also be able to travel back to the U.S. with Bahamas Paradise if that is the travel option they choose.
He said his company’s decision to begin sailing to Nassau means thousands more tourists will be able to visit New Providence as stopover visitors, given the ship’s rolling two-night itinerary.
Khosa said Bahamas Paradise has been bringing visitors to Grand Bahama for a decade and plans to continue what it sees as a vital service to the island’s economy.
Khosa explained that it has begun selling voluntourism packages to Grand Bahama for those leisure guests who may want to lend a helping hand while they are on the island. The first set of “voluntourists” arrive this weekend.
After Hurricane Dorian left Grand Bahama, Bahamas Paradise was the first ship into the island with aid for the victims of the storm. Now, they plan to bring in more as leisure guests who want to join the relief efforts.
Khosa said the company continues to collaborate with hotels on New Providence to produce packages for its new route and has been working with its taxi, food and beverage and excursion partners on Grand Bahama to be able to bring tourists back to the island.
He said he is hopeful that by next week much more tour excursions on Grand Bahama will be available.
“We believe that we are the lifeline for that island,” Khosa said. “So it is critical for us to resume our services as soon as we can.”