MIAMI (CBS4) — The inaugural voyage of the Resorts World Bimini SuperFast ship that will travel between Miami and the Bahamian island of Bimini came with yet another major announcement of progress.
The Malaysian company, Genting, unveiled the plans to build a 300-room hotel in Bimini.
The ship made the 50 mile journey in about two-and-a-half hours and CBS4’s David Sutta was the only U.S. reporter on the first trip.
After weeks of delays, and a 40-minute breakdown of the embarkation system Saturday, the Resorts World Bimini SuperFast ship finally pulled out of the Port of Miami.
VIP’s on board, 600 of them, were introduced to a new line of day-cruising.
See a slideshow of the first trip by clicking here.
The ship, believed to be one of the fastest in the world, offers several dining rooms, full cabins that sleep up to four people and of course, lots of gambling.
Slots and card tables lined two decks of the ship and a ‘sports book’ will open next month.
“This is going to be better than the gambling ships. It’s going to be better service, better food, and it’s not all about gambling,” the President of Resorts World Bimini, Dana Leibowitz told Sutta.
For Miami Resident, Sandra Jones, it was smooth sailing. “The crew was friendly and the food was delicious.”
Genting, a Malaysian gambling giant bought the ship three months ago and is betting big on it and Bimini.
“This has become a highway to Bimini,” said developer Gerardo Capo.
Capo dreamed of this day seven years ago, when he built a luxury resort –Bimini Bay. The Bahamas Tourism Minister admitted, Saturday, he thought Capo was ‘crazy’.
“He took a lot of criticism. Severely criticized in some circumstances, and pushed aside, dismissed. Called a ‘dreamer,’ but the truth is he stuck to it. He stuck to it,” Obie Wilchcombe with the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism explained to Sutta.
Bimini Bay sits empty in the winter because the Gulf Stream in the ocean is just too rough. Genting solved that problem.
The SuperFast can’t dock in Bimini, so travelers will have to take a ferry to shore.
Once on the island, the greeting is a welcoming one.
Fishermen have long said that the tropical paradise has some of the best fishing in the world and only 1,500 people live on the island.
It is not nearly as developed as many Caribbean islands , but about 70,000 tourists make it to Bimini annually. The SuperFast is expected to quadruple that.
“It helps out economy. It creates a lot of jobs. It helps us to build houses, to eat a nice steak. Fish, conch and lobster. You all come and eat the fish conch and lobster,” said Sherri Pratt with Sherri’s Beach Bar.
Because of immigration issues still to be worked out, the inaugural trip allowed just 30 minutes on the island. Not the 5 hours Paola Barrera of Cutler Bay expected.
“It’s beautiful. The water is beautiful; A lot different from Miami Beach.”
Barrera said she will be back.
Day gambling boats have tried and failed in South Florida before. Resorts World has more ideas that have yet to be talked about. Some of them may include celebrities, famous DJ’s, night parties, and year-round fishing in Bimini.
“We could probably carry a thousand boats on board if not more. Part of the idea is you can bring your boat on board and bring it to Bimini so during those rough days when your boat can’t sale over you can put it on here, take it over, we offload it,” said Leibowitz.
Resorts World Bimini plans to offer service once a day through August and then they may go to trips twice a day.
A round trip ticket costs just $49.
For more information: Click here.