This started as a simple article about the public relations (PR) problems of a little known cruise line sailing from the Port of Palm Beach. The Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line sails the MV Grand Celebration on two night trips to Grand Bahamas Island. Cruisers leave Palm Beach, FL in the early evening, sail overnight, and arrive at Grand Bahamas Island in the morning. Cruisers spend the day on the island and head back to Florida in the evening and arrive the next morning. There are options to extend your stay on the island. Long time cruisers know the MV Grand Celebration well, having been one of the early ships of Carnival Cruise Lines Holiday class, the MV Celebration.
The Palm Beach newspapers covered a story on August 3, 2015 concerning cruise passengers that were denied passage because the cruise line was over booked the previous weekend. That story stated that passengers arrived and were told they could go onboard but the rooms were not ready yet. Later, some guests were told they needed to leave the ship as the cruise line had overbooked ten cabins. The next day, the spotlight was taken off the overbooked passengers as the MV Celebration started to experience electrical problems while boarding for its next sailing. The reason given was a generator short-circuiting during routine maintenance. Finally, after a six hour delay the ship sailed for the Bahamas. However, shortly after leaving port the ship started experiencing more problems. According to passengers, they were informed that two of the ship’s four air conditioners were not working. Guests reported intermittent problems of electrical and plumbing systems.
According to guests, they were not offered any refunds and most felt it was necessary to return on the ship the next day. Many guests took to sleeping on the deck due to the extreme heat inside the staterooms and the entertainment venues were also too warm to enjoy.
Upon the return to Palm Beach, guests were ensured they would receive a free cruise credit and a refund. The outgoing cruise was delayed, however, so that repair parts and manufacturer repairmen could repair the air conditioners. Outbound guests were offered a refund if they wanted to cancel and a cruise credit. Guests taking the cruise were offered a free cruise credit and a $50 on board credit.
Is it really a scam?
The cruise ship does exist and it does provide the services it advertises (to different levels of satisfaction). The ship is also marketed by a company named Holiday Cruise, and if you search ‘Holiday Cruises’ or ‘Grand Celebration’ you will come up with a list of websites calling it a scam. That company has numerous accusations of fraud against it in offering free cruises. People are enticed to accept winning a free cruise and only need to provide their credit card information. Once that happens, the company tries to upsell them into different packages, cabin upgrades, over nights in Bahamas, or pre- or post- package stays. The packages are more than if purchased separately, and some of them require you to attend a time share presentation. One case against them stated the presentation they were forced to view was seven hours. An interesting point of fine print on their website, visiting their website and providing them any information means you waiver your rights to federal no call rules.
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line is a new line, founded in last November 2014 when its predecessor company’s ship ran aground. The Celebration was purchased and a new company was founded. The Holiday Cruises was also founded and its predecessor also closed. Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line maintains they are a separate company from Holiday Cruises and has no control over their marketing. If, however, you look at the cruise contract, the place to serve notices is at the office of Holiday cruises.
If you are considering a trip like this, you might want to do a great deal of research before going forward.