SunCruz suspends sailings from Port of Palm Beach

Eight months after it started, SunCruz Casinos has suspended its gambling ship operation at the Port of Palm Beach until further notice, according to its Web site.

The 600-passenger SunCruz VI cruise ship has been transferred to Port Canaveral. Rosalind Harvey, a spokeswoman for the Brevard County seaport, said the ship is there while the 1,200-passenger SunCruz XII, normally based in Canaveral, undergoes a drydock. „I’m not sure how long it’s going to be in drydock,“ Harvey said.

SunCruz VI made its last sailing before heading to Port Canaveral on Sept. 22, leaving the Palm Beach Princess once again as the sole day cruise operator at the Port of Palm Beach.

Efforts to reach officials at Dania Beach-based SunCruz were unsuccessful.

Adding a bit of intrigue to the ship’s departure was the approval last week by Port Canaveral commissioners of a third gambling ship at the port. The ship would be run by the Fabulous Las Vegas Casino Line, whose principal is Larry Mullins, a former executive of one of the existing operators, Sterling Casino Lines.

Mullins told the commissioners he plans to operate a 253-foot, 900-passenger vessel obtained from a South Florida casino ship operator currently in bankruptcy.

That description fits a vessel, the Royal Star, controlled by an affiliate of Palm Beach Casino Line, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from creditors in December. Efforts to reach officials of Palm Beach Casino Line, operators of the Palm Beach Princess, were unsuccessful.

Ashley Babb, a spokeswoman for Fabulous Las Vegas Casino Line, said her company has renamed the ship Liquid Vegas and plans to put it into service by year’s end.

Since SunCruz began operating at the Port of Palm Beach, passenger counts at the port are up 9 percent from the same period of 2006, Port Director Lori Baer said.

SunCruz, which typically offers two cruises a day, must offer a minimum of 40 sailings a month to comply with its port agreement. Baer said the port is scheduled to meet with SunCruz officials to discuss the situation today.