Island Breeze casino cruise’s launch date nears

If the 160-foot m/v Island Breeze II gets approval, a soft launch could happen the weekend of Feb. 28th, company CEO Brad Prader said.

A grand opening for the gaming cruise operations is planned for March 20, he added.

Early last year, Prader’s company contracted the former Black Diamond casino ship after it halted day-cruise operations from the Riviera Beach-based port after operating there for only a few months.

Initial plans for the ship were to upgrade and remodel its interior and make some layout changes to get it operational by August 2013. However, after renovations commenced, management said they needed to reconfigure the entire vessel as well as modify and enhance certain onboard equipment to get it ready and compliant with company operating standards.

«We did completely gut the vessel,» said Prader of the $3 million-plus overhaul.

The extra time taken to ready the ship was necessary to ensure all aspects of its facilities and offerings would meet and exceed guest expectations, the company said.

This was particularly important since the service is launching in Palm Beach County, which Prater described as having a population that «demands excellence.»

«Our whole goal is quality and value and that’s what we want to deliver,» he said.

The m/v Island Breeze’s casino will offer several gaming options, including more than 200 slot machines, 172 table game positions and a Sportsbook. Additionally, the ship’s third deck will offer a Jamie Gold Poker Room, hosted by the 2006 Wolrd Series of Poker Main Event champion Jamie Gold.

The 600-passenger ship’s amenities will also include an entertainment lounge, sports bar, and restaurant offering a buffet meal with each sailing, Prader said.

The day casino cruises will operate twice daily: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m. with slight variations to its schedule on the weekend. Tickets costs $25 per person, which includes a buffet lunch or dinner.

Island Breeze also has plans to operate a shuttle to bus gamers to the port from as far north as St. Lucie County to Pompano Beach in the south in Broward County, Prader said.

The new 10-year lease with Island Breeze includes a guarantee of 125,000 passengers annually, and the service is expected to generate about $1 million in annual revenues, port officials have said.

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