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New operator takes over casino cruise ship at the Port of Palm Beach

By Susan Salisbury - Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Island Breeze International is taking over the Black Diamond gambling cruise ship at the Port of Palm Beach and expects to be sailing by Aug. 1.

The port commission approved a 10-year lease and day cruise operating agreement Thursday with the Bellmawr, N.J.-based company, port spokeswoman Julie Trieste said Tuesday. The company plans to rename the ship the Island Breeze, completely remodel it and install new gaming equipment. It has a capacity of 550 passengers.

The agreements begin May 1 and give Island Breeze the right to maintain, dock and sail its cruises from the port.

Trieste said Island Breeze is slated to run cruises similar to those Black Diamond offered, with dining, entertainment and gambling. The company plans to reserve the ship’s top deck for entertainment.

The port commission also voted Thursday to cancel the lease with Jupiter-based Black Diamond Casino Cruises, the ship’s previous operator. The ship is owned by Nurmi Properties.

Bradley Prader, Island Breeze’s president, CEO and chairman, and Steven Weismann, its chief financial officer could not be reached Tuesday.

The company’s website states it owns one ship, the Island Breeze, a 415-foot vessel with a capacity of 1,000 passengers which is being renovated.

In February after operating for three months, the Black Diamond’s previous operator, Black Diamond Casino Cruises, suspended operations. At the time officials said the company was reorganizing, but it never started up again.

The 160-foot Black Diamond began daily sails in early November after a $5 million renovation. The port had been without a casino cruise since early 2010 and had anticipated revenues of up to $1 million a year from Black Diamond.

The Island Breeze is forecast to generate $323,494 for the port this year, and more than $1 million in its first full year.

The operating agreement with the port states that if the ship does not begin sailing on or before Aug. 1, the port has the option to terminate it. The company was required to put up a $125,000 good faith deposit. Island Breeze International is leasing 4,811 square feet of office space at the port.

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