by Kevin Griffin writng for cybercruises.com
Three weeks ago, we reported that Costa Cruises was cancelling a programme of cruises for its 1,494-berth Costa Celebration that was due to start on November 29. The ship had only just come off drydock in Marseilles from her transfer from Spanish subsidiary Iberocruceros, where she had operated as Grand Celebration.
Costa Celebration (Image courtesy of Costa Cruises)
Passengers who had been booked were transferred to one of the fifteen other ships in the Costa fleet or refunded. Now we have the latest news. Costa Celebration left Genoa on December 5 and after a brief call at Tenerife on December 9, is due at Freeport around 2 pm on Thursday.
Although no formal confirmation has been made by Costa, the only possible reason for her going to Freeport would be to stand in for Celebration Cruise Line’s 1,004-berth Bahamas Celebration, which normally offers 2-night cruises between Palm Beach and Freeport.
Bahamas Celebration was damaged when she hit an underwater object just after leaving Freeport for Palm Beach on October 31. The next day the Miami-Bimini ferry Superfast Bimini left Bimini for Freeport to pick up Bahamas Celebration’s passengers and sailed back to Miami by way of Bimini, picking up her own passengers en route.
Bahamas Celebration (Image courtesy Rolli at Vesseltracker.com)
Costa Celebration’s date of arrival at Freeport, December 18, conforms to Bahamas Celebration’s original schedule and it is likely that she will not stand in for the smaller ship for the duration of the winter high season for travel to the Bahamas.
After her surprise Palm Beach-Freeport season, Costa Celebration is scheduled to return to the Mediterranean, where in April she will take up her originally intended programme of 7-night one-way cruises between Venice and Istanbul through the Adriatic and Aegean.
With calls at Split, Corfu, Santorini and Piraeus in one direction and Mykonos, Santorini, Kefalonia and Dubrovnik in the other, round voyages of 14 nights will also be available but in fact this is the same route she had previously operated for Iberocruceros as Grand Celebration this year.
Bahamas Celebration, the former Color Line cruise ferry Prinsesse Ragnhild, is now undergoing repairs at Freeport. The principals of Celebration Cruise Line previously operated Imperial Majesty Cruise Line, which operated the 905-berth Regal Empress in a similar operation between Port Everglades and Nassau until 2009.
While Bahamas Celebration initially operated on the Nassau route as well, she switched to the Palm Beach-Freeport route in 2010. Bahamas Celebration is managed by Fleetpro Ocean of Miami. Celebration brings between 3,500 and 4,000 cruise passengers to Freeport on Grand Bahama Island every week, and as well as her 2-night mini-cruises offers 4- and 6-night cruise and stay holidays in conjunction with five resort hotels in Freeport.