Lifestyle continues to reach out to businesspeople all over South Florida to ask three questions: How did COVID-19 and the shutdown impact your business; how did you position the business for success amid reopening; how will experiencing this unprecedented pandemic change the way you conduct business moving forward? Today, we check in with Kevin Sheehan Jr., president of Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line.
Business backstory: The only two-night cruise sailing from the Port of Palm Beach to Grand Bahama Island and Nassau gives travelers a mini-getaway option that the larger cruise lines don’t—with many of the same perks (Vegas-style entertainment, spa treatments, on-ship shopping, kids programming, multiple dining options, casino gambling). According to its website, Bahamas Paradise is set to sail again, starting July 25. (bahamasparadisecruise.com)
The impact: “Dealing with this crisis has taught us to remain fluid. A vital part of our decision-making process was ensuring that every party was involved, and as working from home became part of the new normal, we were forced to adapt and implement new levels of communication across the business. Steps like communicating via daily calls and Zoom meetings, as well as collaborating on projects and webinars with travel partners across our virtual call center, were key in maintaining a core infrastructure across all our teams while working remotely. As for those onboard our ships, we made the decision to take Grand Classica out of service early in order to repatriate our crew members—the new challenge is getting the remaining crew home, or back to work as soon as possible. Moving forward, we will conduct business with a start-up mentality, keeping an eagle eye on costs and control.
The game plan: “Prior to this crisis, the cruising industry was already experiencing an uptick in ‘micro-cruises.’ As travelers ease back into travel, we’re confident that they will be looking for shorter cruise options, which has always been our business model. As the only short-cruise product on the market, we understand the dynamic, our product is successful, and we’re easily accessible since we’re so close to home. What we’re currently doing to prepare for the increased travel demand post-COVID is installing improved health and safety protocols across our fleet, so that travelers can enjoy a short cruise escape to paradise without worrying about health risks. These updated procedures are being implemented from embarkation to disembarkation and include:
- Extensive sanitization processes at entry of port terminal, ships, and passenger walkways
- Thorough wipe down of all guest luggage before it’s loaded onboard
- Social distancing measures at all onboard dining and entertainment areas
- A two-step sanitization process for all common areas and guest cabins with hospital-grade disinfectant
- Closing two-passenger stateroom decks to reduce crowds onboard
- Twice daily temperature checks for crew members
- Implementing a fresh air ventilation system to ensure healthy air quality onboard
The future: “Our ‘micro-cation’ concept gives travelers a quick yet memorable cruise vacation that departs from West Palm Beach, so it’s easily accessible, yet feels a world away! We’re known for our friendly staff, unique dining experiences, award-winning onboard entertainment, our one-of-a-kind Cruise & Stay Program, and more, and travelers who choose to set sail with us can expect the same quality when we return this summer. When we return, our onboard experience may look at little different, but no matter what, providing a great experience will be at the heart of everything we do.”