NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Nassau Cruise Port said its construction plans will not be derailed by the COVID-19 fall-out.
Demolition of the warehouse at the port is expected to get underway by month’s end subject to the necessary approvals.
The NCP began operations last October as part of a consortium comprising Global Ports Holding Plc, the Bahamas Investment Fund (BIF) and the Yes Foundation.
It pointed to the suspension of sailing operations announced by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) for several major cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian, and MSC, to and from U.S. ports for 30 days due to the global pandemic.
Disney Cruise Line has also suspended its sailings through to the end of March 2020.
However, the NCP noted most ships at sea will continue with their itineraries as planned as the cruise lines prepare to temporarily suspend North American service.
”We anticipate that some cruise lines may request to berth ships at Nassau Cruise Port during the suspension period,” the NCP stated.
“These ships may contain a relatively small number of crew members who will spend this time here in port. These cruise lines will provide a Declaration of Health to Bahamas Customs and Immigration as part of the application for entry into The Bahamas.
“The Declaration of Health will describe any health concerns of any person on board the ship. The crew are subject to the COVID-19 protocols of the Bahamian government at the time that they apply for entry.”
It continued: “We have been and remain in constant communication with the major cruise lines and CLIA, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Tourism, and other key stakeholders as this situation unfolds. Our cruise line partners have undertaken extraordinary measures to safeguard their crew, passengers, shareholders, and other stakeholders, and we have and will continue to benefit from their efforts. We support their difficult decision to temporarily suspend sailings amid this global public health crisis.
“Everyone’s health and safety are our paramount concerns.”
The NCP noted however that the COVID-19 fall-out will not derail its construction plans.
“This very unfortunate situation will not derail our construction plans. We expect to begin demolition of the warehouse at the port by the end of the month, subject to obtaining the necessary approvals. Over the next few weeks, we will review our health and safety protocols in anticipation of the resumption of cruise visits to Nassau and to improve the safety of the port environment in the short-term and long-term.
“This may include technological upgrades, enhanced security screening measures, and a review of our medical procedures, among other efforts. We are committed to the health of our passengers, employees, port stakeholders and the entire Bahamian and global communities as we navigate this challenging situation.”
NCP manages the cruise port and is currently redeveloping the port facility to enhance the passenger experience and increase business opportunities for Bahamians.
The cruise port project will also see the construction of a new terminal building; the creation of an event and entertainment area; investments in retail facilities; and the design and construction of new food and beverage facilities.
It will integrate the port into Bay Street with the expectation that it will serve as a catalyst for the wider development of the downtown core. The construction phase was slated to begin late 2019 and is anticipated to be completed within 24 months.