As the Port of Nassau commences homeporting for Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas, the Government of The Bahamas is anticipating an injection of US$50 million from cruise activities for the duration of the year.
Royal Caribbean resumed cruise shipping activities in the archipelago on Saturday, June 13, after a 15-month hiatus, with Adventure of the Seas sailing from Nassau with 1,000 vacationers. For the summer, the vessel will provide 7-night sailings to Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s game-changing private island destination in The Bahamas; Grand Bahama Island, The Bahamas; and Cozumel, Mexico.
Following this, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar informed The Bahamas Parliament of his positive outlook for homeporting, which he estimates will approximately US$50 million in visitor spend. During his contribution to the 2021/2022 National Budget Debate on June 15, the portfolio minister shared that between 30,000 and 35,000 cruise visitors will land on The Bahamas shores this year.
“I want Bahamians at-large to think about the economic benefits that we all derived by that cruise starting here in Nassau,” Minister D’Aguilar told the House.
“They would have used the airport; they would have used local transportation — a taxi, limo or tour bus; they would have invariably arrived a day or two before the cruise, so they would have used a hotel,” he added.
The tourism minister noted, too, that visitors will have to use the amenities in the hotels and so will spend money and, in some instances, also offer tips.
At the same time, Minister D’Aguilar readily admitted the deficit created by the absence cruise tourism due to the coronavirus pandemic including the loss of jobs and the closure of businesses. To this end, he worked with his team at the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation to identify a number of opportunities for job creation and entrepreneurship.
So far, D’Aguilar said, the arrival of the cruise ship has generated “much excitement” among tourism officials, stakeholders, partners and local businesses.
“We all see and know now, what the absence of cruise ships has meant for the economy of The Bahamas, especially Bay Street. It is painful to walk down Bay Street right now. Very few businesses open, and the absence of commercial activity in the heart of our country has been gut wrenching,” he reiterated, adding that the nation has been reliant on tourism for a very long time and will need to diversify the economy.
However, he argued that no other sector can compare to tourism, in terms of its economic contribution, in the near future.
D’Aguilar also told Parliament he was “delighted to report” that cruises from South Florida to The Bahamas will resume much earlier than expected.
“As you know, Mr Speaker, the American Center for Disease Control, or CDC, has prevented cruises from restarting for some time and, given the CDC’s seemingly disinterest in helping the cruise industry to get back on track, cruise industry executives were telling me a couple of months back that, ‘don’t expect cruises, starting from the United States, to resume until September, possibly November or even just before Christmas.’
“Well, Mr Speaker, Royal Caribbean has announced that six of its award winning ships will begin sailing from major U.S. cruise ports in Florida and Texas in July and August,” the minister revealed.
He said the “comeback” will begin on July 2 when the Freedom of the Seas disembarks from Miami to Perfect Day ant Coco Cay for a 4th of July special.
“By the end of August, 12 Royal Caribbean ships will be cruising once again across The Bahamas, Caribbean, Alaska and Europe. In the coming weeks, the cruise line will announce plans to reintroduce its full fleet around the globe by year’s end,” he pointed out.