Since its reinvention in 2017, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line has found its own niche within the cruise market and now, with its sights set on Canada, the company is looking to introduce even more travellers to its unique model.
Earlier this summer, the company announced that it would be working with Discover the World, who will represent Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line to the Canadian travel trade; while snowbirds living in Florida during the winter months make up part of the cruise line’s target audience, there’s lots of opportunity for travel agents to offer a new product to clients looking to escape the cold with a combination cruise and all-inclusive stay.
PAX caught up with Clark Reber, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line’s director of sales, to learn more about the company’s history and how it will set itself apart in an increasingly-competitive market.
“Effectively a start-up”
According to Reber, while Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line began as a vehicle to sell time-shares, the model changed in 2017 when the line was purchased by former Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Kevin Sheehan and as the time-share market diminished, the line altered its course, opting for a B2B approach and focusing on a combined cruise and all-inclusive resort experience in a single vacation.
“Kevin left Norwegian and bought a ship and a brand – the Grand Celebration and Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line,” recalled Reber, himself a veteran of NCL, having worked 27 years for the cruise line. “In buying that company, he relied on their business model, which was selling time-shares – basically ‘come see our presentation and get a free cruise.’”
With the addition of a second ship – the Grand Classica – that business model now focuses on short cruises from Palm Beach, Florida to Grand Bahama, with the option of stays from one to six nights at one of four partner resorts, including the Viva Wyndham and the Grand Lucayan (both all-inclusives), along with the standard Taino Beach and Pelican Bay.
“We had some demand from people who just wanted to spend one night on Grand Bahama,” Reber explained, “so we did some research and now we’re offering the cruise and stay program that allows guests to stay between one and six nights. What makes it even more unique is that if you take an odd number of nights in Grand Bahama, you’re going on one ship and coming back on another.”
“We’re not a ferry service”
“There’s a perception out there that because our cruises are so short, that we’re a ferry service,” Reber joked. “Our ships are full-on cruise vessels, not ferries.”
Despite the short distance between Florida and the Bahamas, the Grand Celebration and Grand Classica offer a number of amenities found on larger cruise vessels, while retaining a small-ship feel.
The smaller Grand Celebration offers several public spaces (including a theatre) and of the two ships, has more amenities for families, including a water slide. By comparison, the Grand Classica features more space, notably an abundance of open deck space for cruisers to enjoy the sea breeze.
“You can walk out and it’s all deck chairs – there’s no ropes course or rock-climbing wall to get in the way of your view,” Reber said of Grand Classica.
Both ships also offer a number of dining options, including two a la carte restaurants – Admiral Steak and Seafood and The Rock – the latter of which features meals cooked at the table on top of a 350-degree lava stone.
Travellers flying into Miami or Fort Lauderdale can also access the ships through the cruise line's partnership with Virgin Trains USA (formerly Brightline), which transports passengers to Palm Beach; a Lyft discount is also included in packages, which passengers can use to travel from the train station to Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line’s pier.
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line has also supported relief efforts following Hurricane Dorian, which struck the destination earlier this month.
The cruise line deployed Grand Celebration, on a post-Hurricane Dorian humanitarian sailing to Grand Bahama Island, taking 225,000 pounds of critical supplies and thousands of first responders and volunteers, while bringing 1,100 Bahamas residents back to Palm Beach.
From Sept. 13 to 19, non-profit Bahamas Relief Cruise will charter Grand Celebration for another humanitarian cruise.
According to Reber, agents will receive 15 per cent commissions from the first booking, adding that Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line is also free of non-commissionable fees.
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line also offers seminars at sea and in Canada, Reber said the company will be on the road this fall hosting three agent events.
Agents can also look forward to a new agent portal and brochure in the near future, he said, adding that agents can head to bookparadise.com to register their bookings and start earning.
“No decision is made without looking at how it’s going to affect our travel advisor partners,” Reber said.
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