Q&A with Mario Otero, COO, Balearia Caribbean, Port Everglades, Florida, USA. Balearia Caribbean provides passenger ferry services between Florida and Grand Bahama Island.
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Balearia Caribbean provides quality passenger ferry services for travelers going to and from the Bahamas. Our mission is to offer a safe and comfortable transportation experience while building an honest, respectful and lasting relationship with our customers and with the respective port authorities.
Yes, she is named Jaume I, and she arrived in the Bahamas from Spain in June of 2016 to replace our previous ferry. This is a convenient way to travel from the United States to The Bahamas - specifically from Port Everglades to the Freeport Harbour in Grand Bahama Island.
Jaume I enabled us to increase passage capacity and the number of seats available. The ship has a length of 78 meters and a maximum capacity of 600 passengers - this is 150 more than the previous vessel. We can also take up to 140 vehicles. We can accommodate passengers needing wheelchair access as well as those traveling with pets (in pet carriers). This is a high-speed ferry which can travel up to a speed of 32 knots.
We always have bookings, but the busiest months are July and August and then again in December. We are the least busy during the months of September and October.
SHOULD TRAVELERS PURCHASE TICKETS IN ADVANCE?
Tickets may be purchased at any time. However, we do recommend advance purchase as we have many promotions throughout the year that are popular with travelers, and those days do get especially busy. If you wish to be sure about availability, it's best to contact us in advance about specific travel dates.
Passengers may take as much luggage as they need. However, we limit complimentary carry-on to one small piece; any additional luggage must be checked in for a charge. Pet owners are required to book a reservation and purchase a ticket separately for their pets.
WHY DO PASSENGERS HAVE TO ARRIVE AT YOUR PORT EVERGLADES LOCATION BEFORE 7 AM?
Our departure time is 8:00 am, and we recommend that our passengers come to our Terminal One offices at least two hours before this. We must allow ample time for check-in so that we can finalize the manifest and send it to the CBP on time and receive clearance from the port authorities. With hundreds of passengers traveling with us per trip, it simply takes time to process everyone.
We open the doors at 5:30 am and close them again at 7:15 am. This ensures that we will have everyone checked in before 7:45 am. If you arrive too late and miss out, we do not have another ferry departing later the same day from Port Everglades. So please make sure to come early as requested.
It all depends on each traveler's status or type of visa. We recommend that you visit our website and read the section called Documents Before Travel for the most current information. [See URL website link at the top of this post.]
HOW LONG IS THIS TRIP?
It takes about 3.5 hours, with arrival in Freeport at 11:30 am.
DO YOU PROVIDE ENTERTAINMENT ON BOARD?
Yes, we offer movies - two showings per trip. Passengers are also welcome to visit our duty-free shop which offers a variety of products.
We do have a cafeteria where passengers can buy sandwiches, candy bars, snacks, and soft drinks or coffee; there is also a bar for purchasing cocktails.
HOW IS THE SEATING ARRANGED?
Individual seats are not assigned. Passengers buying economy class tickets may sit inside on the ferry's 1st level, and passengers with premium class tickets may sit inside on the 2nd level. There are also benches located on the outside decks where passengers can enjoy the ocean views.
DO YOU PROVIDE BLANKETS ON BOARD?
We do have blankets available for a small charge. If passengers wish to bring their own blankets, they can do that, of course.
Yes absolutely! But there are also passengers who return to Port Everglades on the same day. They travel with us to enjoy a day off, maybe do a little shopping and sightseeing in Freeport, just to get away and have some fun. You will have about 4 hours of free time before you will need to come back for pre-boarding check-in. Our ferry leaves at 6:30 pm for its return voyage to the United States.
Bahamian citizens may purchase one-way tickets. All other travelers must purchase round-trip tickets. The return portion of the ticket can be scheduled for the same day or for a different day. The majority of our customers do stay in the Bahamas for at least one overnight, if not longer; they may be on vacation or perhaps attending a special event such as a wedding or a corporate retreat.
We offer many promotions throughout the year which we will announce on our website and through social media like on our Facebook page and Twitter. These usually involve one of our hotel partners on Grand Bahama Island. Which means you get a discount off the total package including the round-trip ferry tickets, hotel room, and possibly also a day activity such as fishing or sailing, compared to the cost if you were to purchase these things separately. So I recommend to everyone that you visit our website frequently and also follow us on social media to learn about new deals.
Innovation is a major core value of our company to our customers, personnel, suppliers, the environment and society. We are committed to having a sustainable and efficient fleet that allows us to reduce fuel intake and CO2 emissions.
Therefore, we are pioneers in Spain* in the liquefied natural gas boost in the marine transport. On one hand, we have the first auxiliary gas engine for passenger ferry, and on the other, we are now building three ferries that will also be powered by LNG, an investment of more than 320 million euros.
Future projects are also focused on building "smart" terminals which will increase energy efficiency and create opportunities for more personalized services to our customers. Our intention is to use the latest technologies to facilitate easier transit of goods and passengers to our vessels while still maintaining maximum safety standards.
*The parent company, Balearia Eurolinias Maritimas S.A., is based in Spain.
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