Express Ferry Offering High-Speed Boat Trips to Bahamas From Fort Lauderdale's Port Everglades

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Hate flying? Lost your yacht in the recession? But sure as hell would love a decent rum runner and a handmade straw hat?

If so, you are so in luck, because a new boat called the Bahamas Express Ferry is about to start high-speed service from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas.

A massive, colorful ferry with the teal 1980s color scheme has been docked near 17th Street for a few weeks now.

It is operated by a company called Baleària, which offers a similar service in Spain, connecting the mainland with four islands, including Ibiza.

According to the company's website, the Bahamas boat (one of 12 in the company's fleet) is christened Pinar del Rio and can hold 463 passengers and 80 cars (though earlier reports indicate that cars will not be allowed on the Bahamas service). It has a restaurant/bar onboard, and pets are allowed.

Fast ferry services in South Florida have come and gone. One from the Port of Palm Beach to the Bahamas operated in the 1990s and early 2000s but closed. Fast-ferry services from South Florida to Key West have also opened and closed. 

Baleària has not been immune to problems. It had initially announced the Bahamas ferry service back in July. At that time, the company said it planned to operate out of Miami, not Fort Lauderdale, and would stop on both Bimini and Grand Bahama Island. The ferry was supposed to make two roundtrips each day, with the trip taking two hours in each direction and tickets costing $99 to $180, with kids under 6 traveling free. But launch dates were postponed as the company reported problems finalizing deals at the port in Bimini.

Also, last week, the company was fined 2.35 million euros in Spain for its role in a price-fixing scandal; investigators found it had conspired with other ferry companies to keep ticket prices artificially high.

In response to a media inquiry, a Baleària spokesperson said that the service will launch from Fort Lauderdale soon and that company executives intend to announces fares and schedules at a news conference Tuesday. Tickets will go on sale at ferryexpress.com.

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