Back in November, I had the opportunity to sail aboard Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line’s Grand Classica. Bahamas Paradise specializes in short, two-night runs from West Palm Beach, Florida to Freeport, Bahamas.
A relative newcomer to the industry, the Bahamas Paradise lineage stretches back decades, all the way to Imperial Majesty Cruise Line, which operated a popular old ocean liner known as Regal Empress on a similar run. Absolutely beloved by guests, Regal Empress had its fate sealed by changing SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea) regulations. Sold for scrap in 2009, Imperial Majesty rebranded as Celebration Cruise Line, which eventually folded and rebranded in 2015 as Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line.
Bahamas Paradise acquired its second ship, Grand Classica in early 2018. It began life back in 1991 as Costa Cruises’ Costa Classica and was revolutionary at the time for that cruise line. It was the first purpose-built Costa ship that had been built in two decades, and the largest passenger liner constructed in Italy for an Italian company at that time.
Together with sister-ship Costa Romantica, which set sail in 1993, the duo were easily identifiable at sea thanks to their broad, tall hulls littered with rows of oversized porthole cabin windows and their circular discos which were affixed to the ship’s forward radar mast, high atop the navigation bridge.
Costa Classica was sold to Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line in late 2017 and entered service for the line in April of 2018 as Grand Classica.
I had always wanted to sail aboard one of these original “Costa Twins”, so I jumped at the chance to sail aboard Grand Classica in her new iteration. Despite being a very budget offering (Bahamas Paradise sailings often go for less than a night in a Holiday Inn), I was impressed at the overall quality of the ship, the entertainment, and the onboard staff – all of which were top-notch.
There are some hints of Costa’s very multilingual past onboard. Some signs are still in Italian, while others are printed in about six different languages. That’s slowly changing as the ship gets more miles to the Bahamas under her keel and her new owners swap old signage and branding out for new ones.
Food onboard was hit-and-miss. It’s satisfying, in a sort of “Well, now I’m full” way. But if you go in with appropriate expectations, it’s hard to be disappointed, particularly at this rock-bottom price point. Bonus points for the one specialty restaurant I tried during my sailing (The Rock Grill); shelling out a little bit for food really ratchets up the quality meter. My steak was superb, and cooking it over the superheated block of volcanic rock was an experience I’ve only had on upscale-luxury-line Silversea.
Drinks were pleasantly boozy. No skimping or watering-down here; what was advertised as a two-ounce pour seemed to me to be frequently more than that. Beverage prices are extremely reasonable, and optional drink coupons can be purchased onboard that add a touch of inclusivity to the brand.
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