NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A local environmentalist decried plans for several cruise lines to homeport in this jurisdiction as “the most depressing news in a long time”, urging this nation to undertake a serious review of whether the cruise is “worth our while”.
Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar told Parliament earlier this month that three cruise companies have expressed interest in making Nassau their home port, noting that the economic implications of such a development would be significant.
Crystal Cruises and Royal Caribbean have already announced such plans, with Bahamas cruises set to kick off this summer.
Royal Caribbean International President and Chief Executive Michael Bayley, Nassau Cruise Port CEO Mike Maura Jr and well-known real estate broker and businessman Mario Carey have all hailed the homeporting prospects as a positive for the economy.
Still, Duncombe told Eyewitness News: “That is the most depressing news I have heard in a long time.
“We have not gotten the cruise industry under control in any shape or form. There are still issues outstanding with them dumping in our waters and fines not being pursued. As far as I know, there have been no repercussions.
“This idea of having multiple ships in harbor all the time, burning fuel, is literally the worst news I’ve heard.”
Duncombe called into question the true economic value delivered to The Bahamas by the cruise industry, suggesting that there was little apart from the “illusion” of tourists on Bay Street.
“The country needs to undergo a review over whether or not the cruise industry is worth our while,” said Duncombe.
Of the 7.2 million visitors to The Bahamas in 2019, US cruise passengers accounted for 5.4 million.
D’Aguilar recently noted that cruise lines are “itching” to return to this destination, with the Nassau Cruise Port having seen a 20 percent increase in birthing requests over its 2019 “record year” in the past six months.