Cruise Ship Heads to Boston to House Emergency Repair Workers
The Grand Celebration, one of two vessels in Bahamas Paradise Cruise Lines' fleet, has canceled two months' of sailings in order to deploy to Massachussetts for an emergency relief effort. She has been chartered by utility firm Columbia Gas to provide housing for the hundreds of repair workers who are helping to restore service in the wake of the Merrimack Valley gas explosions, which killed one and injured dozens in several towns north of Boston.
AIS tracking data shows that the Grand Celebration departed Palm Beach, Florida for Boston on Monday. When she arrives, she will be able to provide housing for up to 1,900 workers in support of the Andover repair project. Columbia Gas says that it is deploying 200 construction crews with 3,000 employees and contractors in a push to restore service by November 19, just in time for Thanksgiving.
Bahamas Paradise says that Grand Celebration will resume her normal schedule in December. In the interim, the line's other vessel - the Grand Classica - will continue service on the same route. Passengers who are affected by the cancellations will receive a full refund, and those seeking to re-book on a different date will be given an onboard credit of $100.
"We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience that this change of schedule has caused and hope that impacted guests will understand our decision to support a community in need," Bahamas Paradise said in a statement.
The redeployment marks the second year in a row that Grand Celebration has been pulled from her normal service for a disaster relief effort. In the wake of Hurricane Maria, she provided housing for response staff in St. Thomas, USVI for three months.
The Bahamas depends heavily upon tourism to support its economy, and Grand Celebration contributes significantly to traffic on the island of Grand Bahama. The Bahamas government told local media that the continued service of the Grand Classica will help to offset the impact of the cancellations.
"Bahamas Paradise has stated that they will do what they can to mitigate the loss of the vessel for the 60-day period by accommodating the booked passengers on board the Grand Classica. It bears noting that . . . we will not be without at least one vessel to bring in overnight and day passengers," Bahamas' ministry of tourism said in a statement.