A ship shuttling passengers to the westernmost point of the Bahamas could open any day now, representatives from the Bimini SuperFast said Friday.
The ship will transport up to 1,500 passengers to Bimini and back twice daily, and offer gambling and food. Genting christened the Bimini SuperFast Friday and had planned to send invited passengers to Bimini.
The resort in North Bimini opened — along with a new casino at the former Bimini Bay Resort — but the ship is still docked, awaiting clearance from the Coast Guard. Bimini SuperFast officials had expected to be open to the public by Monday.
At Friday’s christening, Genting Group Chairman KT Lim noted that the endeavor will create 800 jobs: 100 at PortMiami, 300 on the ship and 400 in Bimini. He also said the Port will receive $60 million annually in fees.
Resorts World Bimini President Dana Leibovitz said Genting converted a 12-year-old, 32-ton ship that had been used to ferry automobiles across the Adriatic Sea.
“The company moved quickly in looking for a ship, but this one stood out because it needed only cosmetic changes,” he said.
He also noted that the Bimini SuperFast venture is different than other daily cruises in South Florida that peaked about 10 years ago, then succumbed to competition as land-based casinos rose. That includes the Discovery out of Fort Lauderdale, which closed almost two years ago.
“To us, it’s more of a destination resort experience,” Leibovitz said. “The casino and the trip over are just an amenity.”
The ship has 23 tables for blackjack, roulette, craps and baccarat and 135 slots. The ship’s sports book is expected to open July 28. The Resorts World Bimini has 15 tables and 153 slots.
The refurbished resort offers such watersports at kayaking and water skiing in the Bimini Lagoon, and scuba divers and snorkelers can explore reefs and shipwrecks. The resort is also home to the largest marina in the Bahamas, with 230 slips that can accommodate yachts as large as 200 feet.
While he expects a fairly even split between those who travel just for the day and those who spend a couple of nights in Bimini, Leibovitz presumes there will be more daily travel during the weekdays and overnight guests on weekends.
He also noted that right now because most people visit to Bimini to fish — rather than hit a resort — the average stay is five-to-seven days in Bimini. He also said that this is the peak time for Bimini, rather than winter, because the Gulfstream waters are rougher then.
“But our ship will be more than able to handle it,” he said.
As far as customers go, Genting — a $46 billion company that owns casinos worldwide — has a database of 6 million gamblers worldwide and 600,000 from its Resorts World New York venue, he noted.
Resorts World Bimini vice president Mitchell Schlesinger said the night cruise will have a party atmosphere, with dancing and “big-name” DJs on the upper deck, dancing under the stars as the ship cruises along. Because night club patrons can be quite loyal to their favorite DJ, Schlesinger hopes to set up a rotating schedule of performers. It will be called “Club Bimini.”
The day trip will leave at 9 a.m. daily and return at 7 p.m. The party cruise is from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Overnight packages will be available.
Cost is $49 and the Resorts World Bimini web site (RWBimini.com) and phone lines (888-930-8688Ö) have opened. Officials also noted that passengers need either a passport or a government-issued ID and a birth certificate.