More than a year after a fire consumed the vessel used to provide transportation between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, maritime company Ferries del Caribe will resume the service in May, company officials announced.
The carrier will offer the service on a new, $10 million ship Ferries del Caribe sought in Greece, with the capacity for 1,750 passengers, executives said during a presentation to travel agents. The new vessel belongs to a Greek company with which Ferries del Caribe signed a five-year, $60 million lease.
“Ferries del Caribe was the pioneer in providing maritime transportation services between the island and the Dominican Republic, a service that for years had a great impact on tourism and local commerce,” said Ferries del Caribe President Néstor González.
“Today, we are returning with more impetus and development plans both in Puerto Rico and in the sister country,” he said. “We have estimated that this route has an economic impact on the island and the region of nearly $700 million.”
With the restart of the route, Ferries del Caribe will be generating 250 direct jobs and 500 indirect jobs.
In April 2016, the company’s Caribbean Fantasy ship caught fire off the northern coast of Puerto Rico. Executives said close to 115,000 customers were affected by the absence of the service since the accident through the first months of this year.
“We could see the impact of the lack of this maritime route on tourism and the economy in general,” he said. “As a result of the absence of this route, we could see how the airlines increased their rates between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Now with the re-establishment of the maritime route we will see greater competition in the market and, consequently, better rates.”
The new ship accommodates 600 more passengers than its predecessor, 175 cabins and space for 500 cars or 150 containers in the cargo area. It also features a number of amenities, including a buffet style restaurant and an a la carte restaurant, various lounges and bars, more cabins, seating area, tax free shops and a beauty and spa salon.
“For us at Ferries del Caribe it is a great joy to be able to return to offer this service that we know people were waiting for,” González said. “The welcome we had is excellent. Since announcing our return in mid-March, we have received thousands of calls from people interested in booking their vacation in the neighboring country on board our cruise.”