Ship originally built for Carnival to replace damaged Bahamas Celebration

It’s official: Florida’s Port of Palm Beach will be getting a replacement ship for Bahamas Celebration, which was damaged after striking an object when sailing from Freeport Oct. 31.

Grand Celebration, built in 1987 as Celebration for Carnival Cruise Lines, is to begin operating as early as February for the newly named Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, the Port of Palm Beach confirmed Tuesday. The ship will depart every other day on two-night Bahamas round-trips and offer cruise and resort vacation packages of four to eight nights.

‘This is a tremendous day for the Port of Palm Beach and Palm Beach County,’ executive port director Manuel Almira said.

According to port chairman Edward Oppel, the agreement for a new multi-day cruise vessel will generate an average of nearly $3.9m of annual net revenue and significant spending for Palm Beach County.

The 47,000gt Grand Celebration can carry about 1,800 passengers, about the same as the ship it’s replacing. Most recently Grand Celebration was named Costa Celebration and, previously under operation by Iberocruceros, Grand Celebration.

It recently underwent a €4.5m refurbishment. Carnival Corp. & plc management referred to the ship’s sale during Friday’s earnings call. CFO David Bernstein said the sale had a 0.3% impact on overall costs, on an available lower berth day basis, in the fourth quarter

Bahamas Celebration, which grounded on Halloween night outside Freeport with no injuries, had entered Grand Bahama Shipyard for repairs. The vessel was built in 1981 and previously sailed as Prinsesse Ragnhild for Color Line before undergoing a major conversion in 2009 to begin Bahamas cruises from Florida. At 36,000gt, it is smaller than Grand Celebration.

Grand Celebration has 10 public decks and 751 cabins, more than 60% with ocean views. There are 14 terrace suites. The pool deck has five pools and Jacuzzis. Other public areas include a spa and fitness center, five restaurants and a casino.

The Port of Palm Beach said the ship’s 950-seat ‘performance center’ will stage big-name concerts.

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