This winter was bad bet for Freeport casino ship
Opus Casino Cruise Lines, which operates a 197-foot luxury ship out of the Nautical Mile in Freeport to international waters three miles offshore where gambling is allowed, is gearing up for a spring and summer season it hopes will make up for a positively brutal winter.
The company's ship, the triple-decker Escapade, spent more time tied up to the piers in Freeport than its backers, private investors in California, liked.
The ship, which can take on 540 passengers and has a crew of 60, began sailing last July. Between then and the end of 2010, 20 percent of the trips -- 39 of them -- were canceled because of bad weather. So far this year, 36 percent of trips -- 29 -- also suffered the same fate.
The company figures that its revenues have been off about 50 percent during the bad months. A cruise of about four hours costs $35.
Company spokesman Allen Willinsky said that beginning in mid-March the ship will sail seven days a week, instead of six. Also next month bus service will be provided from the Port Authority in Manhattan to Freeport. About the same time, a package deal is going to be made available with the LIRR, with various discounts.
"We came into our first winter and we got hit with the worst weather in 30 years," Willinsky said.
If business improves this spring and summer, he said, the company will bring a 900-passenger boat now operating in Florida to Long Island.
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