Officials with PortMiami and the county sang the praises of a new casino boat and cruise ferry in a press release Wednesday afternoon, but one key element was still missing: when passengers will be able to use it.
A U.S. Coast Guard team was back on the 32,000-ton Bimini SuperFast Wednesday after the ship failed to meet safety requirements last week and was not allowed to sail on its planned introductory voyage last Friday.
Janet Espino-Young, inspection division chief at the Coast Guard, told the Miami Herald that though personnel had been inspecting the ship throughout the afternoon, it would not be cleared for sailing by the end of the day.
PortMiami deputy director Juan Kuryla said he hoped to get more information about the ship’s certification status late Wednesday or Thursday morning.
“I think everyone had a goal of getting going as quickly as possible, but I’m familiar with these processes and you need to cross every t and dot every i and that’s what’s going on,” he said.
Those details were not mentioned in the county’s press release, which quoted a representative from Resorts World Bimini, the ship’s destination in the Bahamas, as well as the port director and Miami-Dade commissioners.
Genting, the Malaysian company that bought the Miami Herald property in 2011 for $236 million, turned the former Bimini Bay resort into Resorts World Bimini. The property’s casino was set to be unveiled as part of the launch on Friday of Genting’s Bimini SuperFast, which also offers gambling.
Dana Leibovitz, president of Resorts World Bimini, said in a statement that the company is “working closely with the U.S. Coast Guard to complete all outstanding safety checks.”
Once it is allowed to start sailing, the Bimini SuperFast will sail twice a day to Bimini, leaving for day trips in the morning and for late-night sailings in the evening. The ship can accommodate 1,500 passengers with prices starting at $49 a person, not including $20 in taxes and fees.
The ship has been docked in a temporary spot at the port since mid-June. Genting, which has a 10-year contract with the port for the Bimini SuperFast, has agreed to front as much as $11 million to upgrade the little-used Terminal H in a project expected to be completed in December 2015. Starting this October, it will use a slip adjacent to its future home and passengers will be processed through a temporary tent.
Kuryla said the port is “delighted” to have the ship in the terminal, which has not been regularly used because of size limitations.
“For this particular terminal, we made a decision two to three years ago to try to go out there and attract some sort of small cruise vessel or ferry operation due to the limited berth that it had,” he said. “So we always hoped that we could use it again.”
Miami Herald writer Madeline O’Leary contributed to this report.