Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Visiting the Bahamas via Freeport
We're always on the look out for the latest cruise ship or sea routes we can recommend to prospective visitors, so we have been monitoring initial feedback on the Bahamas Ferry service (www.ferryexpress.com), which runs from Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades) to Grand Bahama Island (Freeport) and back. One story reports the news, here.
The 450-passenger ferry ship leaves from south Florida every day at 10 am, except Wednesday, and will do the 32-knot, 76-mile ride in about 2.5 hours if the waters are smooth. Day roundtrip fares cost US$142 and give you six to seven hours of sightseeing time; then it's time to head back at 7:30 pm from Freeport. If you want to head back the next day, get the overnight fare at US$193.
Initially, the high-speed ferry service operated by the Baleària group got mixed reviews in the Chicago Tribune, partly because of the time needed to clear at the departure area (90 minutes, we're told), plus another 30 minutes when you arrive in the Bahamas. On the up side, when they start offering car and cargo transport services, we expect their service to make more of a difference.
Baleària was also planning a Port of Miami-Bimini island route here in the Bahamas as well, but that has been delayed because of improvements needed at the Bimini seaport. That's worth keeping in mind in the future.
Anyhow, there are alternatives like flights from Sky Bahamas or Continental Airlines, which on average cost US$275. (Be warned that a Bahamas airport tax of US$60 each way will be charged to your ticket.)
Further up north, consider taking low-cost carrier Vision Airlines' two-hour, twenty minute direct flight from Baltimore, Maryland, into Freeport, a service which started last November. It flies twice weekly with base fares of about $US99-189, depending on the date you will be flying in. Vision Airlines is also running the Fort Lauderdale-Freeport route.
Freeport is Bahamas' second largest town and an important sea cruise terminal. It may not yet have the same prominence as Nassau or New Providence, which seem to gather the most attention from incoming visitors, but consider this: rent is cheaper in Freeport than in Nassau. Freeport is also a tax free zone till 2054, whereas Nassau is not.
Check Tripadvisor for things to do in Grand Bahama (the first article we linked above lists five great suggestions). While you're at it, come and check out some of our Era Bahamas Real Estate listings in Grand Bahama as well. Better yet, consider taking a few days off to see some of the attractive properties in our beautiful islands. Our knowledgeable brokers will be happy to take you around.