Monday, May 16, 2011

Discovery to discontinue service

By Cleopatra Murphy

The Freeport News

Freeport, Grand Bahama- Many Grand Bahamians will have to find another means of travelling to and from Fort Lauderdale as the Discovery Sun will soon bid farewell to Grand Bahama permanently.

The ship will discontinue its service between Grand Bahama and Fort Lauderdale on September 7 The Freeport News can confirm.

A press release issued by the company last week said that the ship was going on dry dock for an indeterminate amount of time from September 7 to undergo renovations, however The Freeport News has learned this is not the case.

Discovery Cruise Line's on island representative, Yannick Toussaint, revealed that during a meeting she attended in Miami on Wednesday, the company announced it plans to terminate services to the island.

Toussaint explained that business has been in a slump for the company for some time.

"The company for years now has been operating and losing money. We have tried many different ways in marketing to attract more people, changing our whole schedule, making it all-inclusive and unfortunately we haven't been able to reach our goal of tourists and passengers on board to maintain the service," she said.

In the release issued by Discovery Cruise Line, Hanns J. Hahn, vice president and general manger of Discovery noted that the ship is in good working condition and suggested that the dry docking was temporary.

The release maintained that although the dry docking would be longer than usual, the ship would undergo routine work and continue its services.

"While the ship is in safe operational order and complies with all United States Coast Guard and SOLAS requirements, it requires extensive dry docking and refurbishment," Hahn said.

He further supplied that the timetable for the ship's return to operation would have been announced once additional inspections were performed on the ship.

Toussaint noted, however that unless a miracle happens she does not foresee a reversal of the decision.

Discovery Cruise Line employs 12 people on Grand Bahama who, Toussaint said have been notified of the pending termination of service to the island.

The last cruise is expected to sail from Grand Bahama to Fort Lauderdale on September 6, and Toussaint anticipates that it will bea blow for many Grand Bahamians who frequently use the ship.

"People think that it's a luxury, this service, but it's not. It's actually needed. This is something that helps Grand Bahamians to survive and to be able to make ends meet," Toussaint said. "A lot of Grand Bahamians depend on this service to run their businesses and feed their families and they are very sad that we weren't able to keep it up-and-running," Toussaint said.

She noted that she has resided on Grand Bahama for the last 10 years and has raised her son on the island, so she understands the impact it will have on residents.

"I understand the need for this service. It's not a service that they utilized to go on vacation. They really used it regularly to be able to provide for their families," Toussaint said. "It's very sad and unless a miracles happens and somebody steps in and helps the service to continue, I'm not sure what's going to happen."

She said that the press release issued earlier that said the ship would be undergoing extensive refurbishment had been issued the way it was to prevent scaring business off for the next three months.

Toussaint added that although she was somewhat surprised, by the decision, she was not totally blindsided as the company has been struggling for a while.

"The end has arrived now and it's sad," Toussaint said.

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