MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The newest casino vessel that calls PortMiami home has received a green light from the U.S. Coast Guard after several weeks of delays.
The Bimini SuperFast Ferry has received its Initial Certificate of Compliance and is now cleared for passengers.
In late June, the Coast Guard issued a work list of items that needed to be corrected. Those items included providing proper operation of the emergency source of power, proper operation of the life boat release mechanisms and demonstration of the crews overall proficiency to respond to an emergency situation. All of those items have now been resolved and the vessel has passed its inspection of navigational, lifesaving, and firefighting equipment and crew proficiency with emergency procedures.
"The Coast Guard is always involved in inspecting cruise ships and commercial vessels that call in U.S. ports to ensure compliance with safety standards," said Cmdr. Janet Espino-Young, chief of inspections at Coast Guard Sector Miami. "It is important to note these discrepancies were discovered during our initial inspections prior to the ferry embarking any passengers and we worked thoroughly with the owners of the ferry to bring them up to the standard to safely embark passengers in the United States."
"Safety of passengers and personnel onboard, and the protection of property, is a top priority of the U.S. Coast Guard," said Capt. Austin Gould, Coast Guard Sector Miami Commander and Captain of the Port. "We are pleased that the 1,346-passenger ship is now in compliance having met all required safety standards to sail."
The ship is docked at Terminal F at PortMiami until its new home on the other side of the port is ready later this year.
It's owned by Genting, the $46 billion casino and entertainment company that has been trying for two years to bring destination casinos to Florida.
Since Genting hasn't been able to bring a casino to Miami, it will be able to bring a sizeable chunk of Miami to a casino.
The Malaysian company has opened in a casino in Bimini, only two hours away on the SuperFast Ferry.
The party premise? Ferry people to and from the Bahamian island for a day or night of fun that begins and ends in Miami.
There's also a casino on the ferry where the passengers can play poker, blackjack, slots, craps and roulette once the "Bimini SuperFast" enters international waters and continue playing at the casino in Bimini.
Genting is the same company which purchased the old Miami Herald building in 2011 with grand plans to turn it into a casino.
That idea failed in the state legislature.
But now, Genting is working with Miami-Dade County on a deal to dock the SuperFast at PortMiami to the tune of $7 million a year in rent.
Genting will also foot the bill for renovations to the long-vacant Terminal H. Those will run about $10 million.
Commissioners still have to approve the agreement.
Bimini SuperFast will offer 2 trips a day. Regular day service will begin between Miami and Bimini on Saturday, July 20th at 9:00 a.m. and return by 7:00 p.m.
The first night "Party Cruise" departing Miami daily at 10:00 p.m., returning at 6:00 a.m. will start in early August after a period of "Day Explorer Cruises."
The base price is $49 per passenger for a roundtrip, but cabins and overnight stays are extra.
Visit www.rwbimini.com or call 1-888-930-8688 for more information.
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