Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line
Grand Celebration Review and Specifications
Specifications of Grand Celebration
|Year built||1987 / Age : 31|
|Builder||Kockums Mekaniska Verkstads AB (Malmo, Sweden)|
|Owner||Paradise Cruise Line Operator Ltd|
|Operator||Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line|
|Speed||19 kn / 35 kph / 22 mph|
|Length (LOA)||223 m / 732 ft|
|Beam (width)||28 m / 92 ft|
|Gross Tonnage||47263 gt|
|Passengers||1502 - 1896|
|Decks with cabins||9|
|Former names||MS Celebration, Carnival Celebration, Costa Celebration|
Review of Grand Celebration
MS Grand Celebration cruise ship was constructed in Sweden for Carnival Cruise Lines. The vessel was launched under the name "MS Celebration" (aka "Carnival Celebration"). Its current operator is the Spanish company Ibero Cruises (Ibero Cruceros), subsidiary of Carnival Corporation.
In April 2018, Grand Classica (former Costa neoClassica) joined MS Grand Celebration as 2nd ship in the fleet of the Florida-based company Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line.
History - construction & ownership
The 47,263-ton, 1,896-passenger cruise ship Grand Celebration was operated by Iberocruceros until November 2014, when it was due to be transferred to Costa Cruises. However, on November 21, 2014, the day before the vessel's scheduled departure on the inaugural cruise, it was announced that the ship had been purchased by an unnamed buyer. On December 23 was revealed the name of the new shipowner– Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line.
Grand Celebration has two sister-ships - ms Magellan (currently chartered by CMV), and Henna (former Carnival Jubilee). Until 2008, the vessel was named "MS Celebration" and in the Carnival Cruise Line's fleet. In 2008, it was briefly operated by the Spanish company IberoCruceros.
Grand Celebration was renovated in 2008 in order to meet the expectations of the Spanish cruise market. The vessel was transferred to Iberocruceros but still remained under the control of Carnival Cruises (with 75% share).
- MS Grand Celebration was launched in January 2015, replacing MS Bahamas Celebration, which ran aground in Freeport Bahamas (on 2014's Halloween weekend) and was later scrapped. Bahamas Celebration was homeported in Freeport since 2010.
- As the only cruise ship company operating roundtrips out of Palm Beach, Bahamas Paradise provides its customers with expedited boarding (30-min embarkation / disembarkation) and valet parking (at the cruise terminal).
- Cruise passengers are also offered Bahamas "cruise and hotel" packages in Bahamian hotels. These deals offer 2-, 4-, and 6-night Bahamas hotel stays to be combined (booked together) with the Palm Beach roundtrip voyages.
- Grand Celebration cruise ship is operated under charter (leased). Its curretn operator is the Bahamas-based company "Paradise Cruise Line Operator Ltd" (formely "Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line"), that changed ownership on December 22, 2016. Among the new company's owners is Kevin Sheehan, former CEO and President of NCLH ("Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings"), who resigned NCL in January 2015. In August 2016, he became CEO and President of the Las Vegas-based Scientific Games Corporation (leading developer of technology products and services for the worldwide gaming and lottery industries). The company's other owner (with 50% stake) is Oneil Khosa (the India-based Blue Ocean Cruises company's CEO and Managing Director). Until 2014, Blue Ocean operated shortbreaks (1-, 2- and 4-nights itineraries) leaving from Mumbai-Bombay and Mormugao-Goa.
- In 2017, Paradise Cruise Line had booked around 250,000 passengers, around half of whom are from South Florida.
Cruise itinerary program
Grand Celebration itinerary program is based on 2-night / 3-day Bahamas cruises leaving from Palm Beach (Riviera Beach) Florida. The ship cruises to Bahamas (Freeport) 3 or 4 times a week. The vessel is currently the only one at the Riviera Beach port, and also the largest ever homeported there.
In the period October 2015 - September 2016, a total of 482,211 passengers booked Grand Celebration cruises. The peak month was July 2016, with a total of 54,036 passengers. The 2-night cruises to Bahamas are the most booked (prices start from USD 130 pp).
Since Hurricane Matthew (September-October 2016) damaged Freeport, the cruise ship was diverted to Bimini Islands, but resumed calling on Freeport in January 3, 2017.
Port Palm Beach receives around USD 4 million a year from the ship in port fees and cruise parking. Port commissioners signed the agreement with the new shipowner (Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line) on December 15, 2016. With LOA length 223 m (733 ft), MS Grand Celebration is the max size the Palm Beach port can handle.
All 751 cabins on Grand Celebration are accessed with plastic, hotel-style punch cards. Room service is complimentary, soaps and towels are provided in ensuite bathrooms. Grand Celebration does not offer family or adjoining cabins, but has 18 accessible cabins, 2 of which are suites. Only 12 staterooms on the vessel feature balconies, and these are in the suite categories; 4 of the balconies offer obstructed by lifeboats views.
Dining options - Food & Drinks
The ship has a total of 5 restaurants.
- Stellar Prime on Deck 8 is the main dining room, where passengers can choose between early (6:15 p.m.) or late (8:30 p.m.) dinner seating, and will be paired with other passengers. A violinist rotates between the Stellar Prime and Admiralty Club. Sommeliers are also available at both venues, but the wine list has a limited number of options for wine by-the-glass. The restaurant is one level, with big round tables and some smaller 2-seat tables, all with white tablecloths.
- Plunge Grill is a small, open-air buffet restaurant located close to the swimming pool area (La Piscina) on Lido Deck. It serves hot dogs, burgers, and fries at lunch and transforms into an omelet station for breakfast. The venue serves a late breakfast (10:00-11:00 a.m.), and lunch items all afternoon.
- Ocean View Buffet is the ship's main buffet restaurant with panoramic window seating and contemporary, furniture. This cafeteria-like restaurant has a centrally-located buffet station and doesn't have additional food stations.
- Admiralty Club Restaurant is a steakhouse restaurant with a 5-course menu.
- Lattetude is an a la carte priced, counter-style cafe bar / patisserie located in the corner of Ocean View Buffet. The cafe serves specialty coffees with complimentary, fresh-made pastries and gelato ice-creams.
Entertainment options - Fun & Sport
The cruise ship has 7 music venues, multiple lounges, 5 pools and whirlpools, wellnes center, 3 shops, 3 kids areas. Legends Theater (850-seat show lounge) features a large stage and rotating cocktail chairs with tables for drinks. It spreads across 2 decks and has large porthole windows covered by curtains. The signature production shows change every 8 weeks, but include performances of American hits with many costume changes, plus variety acts that feature acrobats, comedians, magicians. In addition to live performances, the theater is also used for movies.
Wine tastings kicks off in the afternoon, as do steel drum band performances and pool parties. Welcome aboard orientations, ship tours, martini tastings and casino gaming lessons keep travelers occupied until the sun goes down.
Grand Celebration wiki
- In September 2017, the Grand Celebration, ship was chartered by FEMA (USA's "Federal Emergency Management Agency") as hotel ship for the US National Guard. The humanitarian mission started in St Thomas Island (USVI) on September 23, 2017. The charter period was through mid-December. The cruise ship re-entered service on December 23, 2017.
- In 2017, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) chartered the cruise ship for 90 days for a total of USD 25,75 million (daily charter rate USD 286,100). During the 90-day period (September through December) the vessel remained docked in Charlotte Amalie (St Thomas Island USVI) serving as hotel ship for survivors following the hurricanes Irma and Maria (September 2017). The ship re-entered service for "Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line" in mid December, continuing its 2-day Palm Beach to Bahamas cruise program. FEMA is an US Government agency (US Department of Homeland Security) created to coordinate the response to all types of disasters in the USA. FEMA overwhelms all other local and state authorities after the governor of a particular state officially requests from the US president FEMA's respond to the disaster.
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