Oneil Kosha

“This company is definitely on a growth path since we bought it last December,” said Oneil Khosa, CEO of Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, in an interview with Cruise Industry News.

Khosa combined forces with former Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Kevin Sheehan to buy the one-ship brand, and estimates the company will carry some 250,000 passengers on sailings from Palm Beach this year aboard the Grand Celebration.

According to the 2017-2018 Cruise Industry News Annual Report, that would make the 1986-built ship ninth on the list of total annual ship-by-ship capacity globally. It would also make the brand the 18th biggest company by annual passenger capacity – between Dream Cruises and Cunard Line.

Khosa, a former ship financing guru, has a minority stake in the cruise line – the only one in the market offering two-night cruises.

“We feel very comfortable where the business is today,” he said. “We have taken a lot of initiatives to upgrade the product delivery to the consumer, and that has been very evident in our customer satisfaction ratings.”

Major adjustments include a new steakhouse restaurant aboard and plans to add a high-end coffee and gelato option.

Grand Celebration

With valet parking at the terminal, passengers can board in under 30 minutes. As the only cruise line operating from Palm Beach, Bahamas Paradise has been able to work closely with the port to fine-tune the embarkation and disembarkation process.

Customers are also offered cruise and stay packages in the Bahamas, where two-, four-, and six-night hotel stays can be combined with cruises from Palm Beach. Seventy-five thousand room nights will be generated by the line’s passengers this year, said Khosa.

Most of the line’s guests are first-time cruisers, he said, and around 50 percent come from the South Florida area.

As for the product, the company offers value for money, Khosa explained.

The sole player in the two-night cruise market, and the only cruise line in Palm Beach, Bahamas Paradise is in its own world. Hotel operations are run in-house while CMI Leisure handles marine.

“It’s also a lot of work,” said Khosa of the two-night program. “You have more embark/debarks. One of the reasons we are successful is we have a cruise terminal to ourselves.

“Growing would come in the form of additional capacity,” he continued. “We intend to deliver a two-night cruise product, and have no intention to do anything else.”

Khosa was a former first officer for Royal Caribbean, leaving the at-sea life to go to business school, which led to a post at DVB bank financing cruise deals. Becoming an expert in ship finance, he then went on to start Blue Ocean Cruises in India. He is now working to build up Bahamas Paradise, with Kevin Sheehan, Jr, president of the company, while Sheehan, the former Norwegian CEO, is the chairman.