NASSAU, BAHAMAS — With Royal Caribbean International’s Adventure of the Seas on target to set sail June 12 on its historic inaugural Nassau homeporting voyage, the company’s vice president today predicted a boon to a variety of local businesses in Nassau and on Grand Bahama.
Russell Benford, the Royal Caribbean Group vice president responsible for government relations in the Americas, said: “We at Royal Caribbean are excited about this next step in our journey not just because we will be able to sail again in The Bahamas, which remains our number one destination, but because of the opportunities that homeporting unfolds for so many Bahamian businesses and attractions, including our many Bahamian partners.
“We also look forward to forging new friendships in the hospitality sector as a result of guests arriving ahead of their cruise or having the opportunity to stay in Nassau or travel to one of the Family Islands after their cruise.”
Royal Caribbean received approval from the government to homeport Adventure of the Seas in Nassau through mid-September. The 3,800-passenger ship will sail with vaccinated crew and guests over the age of 18 as well as with all COVID preventative protocols in place, including allowing only those with negative COVID test results to board.
Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley predicted recently that the initial offering to board in Nassau would be warmly received after a year of lockdowns, curfews and travel restrictions that have whet the appetite, he said, “to just get out and have fun”.
Royal Caribbean said the arrangement holds promise for the Bahamian economy.
Benford continued: “We were bringing in approximately 1.5 million guests a year to the port of Nassau prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, we extended our length of stay in port, yet operators of attractions, merchants and other businesspeople urged us to stay even longer.
“Now, our guests who fly to Nassau to board Adventure of the Seas will have the opportunity to enjoy the historic city even more.
“They will have more time to shop, try different restaurants. They may choose to book a hotel for a night or a week before or after their cruise. They may take taxis to parts of the island like Clifton Heritage National Park or explore more of the Bahamas National Trust’s parks, book a charter fishing trip or go diving.”
Homeporting, said Benford, “opens up doors that we hope will help Bahamian businesses prosper, including in Grand Bahama where Adventure of the Seas will be refueling and provisioning, introducing countless opportunities especially in the farming and agriculture sectors”.
Royal Caribbean’s spend in The Bahamas prior to the pandemic that suspended sailing was $300 million annually, according to the company. That includes dockage fees; National Insurance payments; staff salaries at its private island destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay in the Berry Islands; contracts with tour operators; small businesses; suppliers and vendors; ship agent fees; and government taxes.