Port Everglades courts ferry to Bahamas, later to Cuba?
by: Doreen Hemlock August 19th, 2011 | 10:00 AM
Broward County's Port Everglades is courting a Spanish company to
operate fast-ferry service to and from the Bahamas.
The Balearia company's Bahamas Express ship, which can carry up to 463
passengers and up to 80 vehicles, docked at the Fort Lauderdale area
seaport Thursday on a test run, port officials confirmed.
The ship had been slated to start operations this summer between the
Port of Miami and the island of Bimini in the Bahamas. But plans have
been delayed, partly because the Bimini seaport needs to be dredged and
its pier improved to handle the fast-ferry, said Balearia executive
Balearia now is looking at other options for the Express, including
possible service to Freeport in the Bahamas, Terricabras said.
Port Everglades has been courting ferry companies from Europe and South
America for months to consider service with Cuba, once U.S. regulations
allow ferry service to the communist-led island. (See an earlier blog
The Obama administration has eased travel rules to Cuba and now allows
charter flights from more U.S. airports for authorized U.S. visitors.
Charters from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to Cuba
are set to start in September, the Broward airport has announced. (See
our blog post on the flights here.)
Service to the Bahamas could be a good first step for ferry companies to
become familiar with Port Everglades and build a name for their
services, said Carlos Buqueras, Port Everglades' director of global
"We have to start talking about this sooner instead of later," to get
Port Everglades on ferry companies' radar as a base for potential Cuba
business, Buqueras said.
The Bahamas Express ship features a cafe, duty-free store and casino
aboard. The trip between Miami and Bimini was slated to take roughly 2
hours each way. For more information on the ship, visit
Spain's Balearia company operates 21 routes and 14 ships in the
Mediterranean area serving such Balearic islands as Ibiza. Started in
1998, it handled almost 3 million passengers last year, according to its
Web site at www.balearia.com.