The deal to charter the Grand Classica to Entergy, the New Orleans-based energy provider, to house workers for Hurricane Ida relief efforts came together in just a couple of days, according to Oneil Khosa, CEO of Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line.
The Grand Classica left Palm Beach Saturday afternoon, packed with provisions and supplies, and a fully vaccinated crew onboard, heading for New Orleans, where the ship is expected to arrive Monday.
“We’re very proud of the team here,” said Khosa, in an interview with Cruise Industry News. “It was a herculean effort to do this. We realize the need to help, everyone here is motivated to help at every level. We know people are sleeping in trucks and waiting for the ship to arrive.”
Bahamas Paradise announced the deal late on Friday afternoon, giving the company a short window to load the ship and prepare for a stay in New Orleans, shifting from its usual two-night operation between Palm Beach and the Bahamas.
Front-line workers are expected to board the ship as early as Monday.
Bahamas Paradise will provide housing and food and beverage services for Entergy, which worked closely with Landry & Kling to arrange the charter.
“There were a lot of discussions with Entergy,” said Khosa. “We were up to 3 a.m. on Friday talking to them. Our crew is fully vaccinated. we have a good track record with the CDC and we’ve had no COVID cases. They were pleased with our onboard protocols and procedures we have in place.”
Bahamas Paradise is no stranger to quickly turning on a dime to help, having been involved with a FEMA charter for hurricane relief in the U.S. Virgin Islands, helping relief efforts following Hurricane Dorian, as well as a charter in Boston for workers related to a gas line explosion in 2018.