Sheehan, whose background includes work in private equity and on Wall Street at Merrill Lynch, dad Kevin (now ceo of Scientific Games Corp. in Las Vegas), mom Lauraine and sister Caitlin acquired a majority stake in Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line in December for an undisclosed amount.
Sheehan said he'd been looking for an opportunity for some time and entrepreneur Oneil Khosa presented a convincing case. Khosa holds the minority stake and serves as ceo, heading operations at the Florida office. Kevin Sheehan Sr. is chairman.
Other cruise industry veterans who've joined the team include Maria Miller as chief marketing officer and David Sprechman as cfo (both were senior officials at Norwegian Cruise Line), and Richard Coombs as director of information technology (he was with Royal Caribbean International).
'They have been a huge boost to help us grow the business,' Sheehan Jr. said. He added the line has 'plenty of demand today,' though he hopes to 'continue building out [the business] in a big way.'
Sources told Seatrade Cruise News Costa neoClassica, which is leaving the Costa Cruises fleet in March 2018, is joining the line, but Sheehan declined to address that.
'Adding a second ship doubles our business so we will be very thoughtful about how we grow,' he said. It would take a great deal of marketing ramp-up, however, from an operational perspective it could be done 'pretty quickly.'
Curently, the line's Grand Celebration turns around at the Port of Palm Beach every other day, so that leaves the berth and the cruise terminal unused during the off days.
'Yes, we could accommodate other cruise ships every other day. As far as we know, BPCL has no plans to replace [Grand Celebration]. We are not able to comment at this time regarding plans for other vessels,' a port spokeswoman said in an email.
The 47,000gt Grand Celebration is the former Costa Celebration, which previously sailed as Grand Celebration for Iberocruceros. The ship was built in 1987 as Celebration for Carnival Cruise Line. The younger and slightly bigger 53,000gt Costa neoClassica was built in 1991 as Costa Classica and has been extensively modernized in recent years.
Grand Celebration sails overnight to Freeport, where it stays for the day, then returns to Palm Beach the following morning. The company markets resort stays on Grand Bahama Island that can be paired with a cruise. A 'significant' number of people choose the cruise and stay package.
The line is on track to carry 250,000 passengers in 2017, and Sheehan believes BPCL is the largest provider of guests to its resort partners on Grand Bahama Island.
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line doesn't aim to go head to head with brands like Carnival or Norwegian, he said. Instead, it has its own niche: short, value-packed vacations for people who might not think of taking a seven-night cruise. They're seeking a short getaway. Most customers are from South Florida.
Since this market segment tends to book online, BPCL has updated its website and continues to refine it. There's a stronger focus on the resort partners and the Bahamas as a destination.
Sheehan said BPCL is 'very excited' about Carnival's plans to build a destination port on Grand Bahama Island since that will create more awareness and interest.
'We are a West Palm Beach-Bahamas ship. We love these ports,' Sheehan said. 'We want to be embedded in the community.' That's why BPCL supports local projects and emphasizes Bahamian culture. The line wants to maximize its economic impact in the Bahamas and expects to be more prominent there over time.
See also subsequently posted 'Palm Beach to weigh Paradise Line's addition of neoClassica service'