The cruise port of Nassau will welcome five ships today for the first time since the COVID-19 strike in March 2020, with its top executive saying: “We are on the road to recovery.”
Its top executive, Michael Maura, told Tribune Business yesterday that the two Royal Caribbean ships, combined with one each from Carnival, Disney and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), will collectively bring nearly 10,000 passengers to the capital of the Bahamas when they will dock today.
“Tomorrow [today], for the first time since March 2020, we will have five cruise ships in port, ”he revealed. “We will have Disney Fantasy, Carnival Pride, MSC Divina, and Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas.
“This highlights that the industry is on track to reach 2019 levels, given that this will be the first time since March 2020 that we will have five cruise ships in port at the same time. We will have close to 10,000 passengers. We are on the road to recovery. Anytime we have 5,000 or more passengers in the port, we hire a local Bahamian band and some music to create a lot of excitement.
Bahamian tourism-related businesses and their employees, typically those located in the downtown Nassau and Bay Street neighborhoods, require passengers to venture off the ship and spend their money if they are to maximize potential economic benefits. of the cruise industry.
Tribune Business recently reported concerns from a company that suggested that only 20% of passengers disembark from their ship when docked in Nassau. When this was reported to Mr Maura, he said different cruise lines were adopting different COVID-19 health protocols as an example.
Citing Disney as an example, the head of the Nassau cruise port said that as a family cruise line it has a disproportionate share of unvaccinated passengers in the form of children aged 12 and under.
As a result, Maura explained that Disney was “interested in excursions and tours that offer greater control and limit the number of independent passengers who can roam freely in the city.” He added that this approach would change depending on health protocols.
As for other cruise lines, Maura said, “Royal Caribbean and Carnival have very strict health protocols, with 90% of passengers fully vaccinated. These passengers can freely cross Nassau and New Providence and participate in tours provided they adhere to health travel protocols.
“MSC is the same as Carnival and Royal Caribbean. Norwegian Cruise Line only allows fully vaccinated people on board. We see a lot of cruise passengers getting off the ship.
Maura, meanwhile, said the cruise port of Nassau is waiting for the Securities Commission to complete its review and approval of the offering document which will set out all the details investors need regarding the initial public offering ( IPO) of $ 25 million in Prince George stock. Dock developer.
The IPO, which is aimed at individual investors rather than large institutions, will offer Bahamians the opportunity to buy shares of the Bahamas Investment Fund. This investment fund type structure will collectively hold a 49% stake in the cruise port of Nassau on behalf of all investors.
The offer, which was due to launch in mid-October, is structured so that no investor or group of investors can hold a majority stake in – or control – The Bahamas Investment Fund. And Global Ports Holding, the majority shareholder of the Nassau cruise port with a similar 49% stake, is making a multi-million dollar finance facility available to help fund the share purchases by Bahamians.
And Mr Maura also praised the decision of the newly elected Davis administration to extend the mandate to vaccinate COVID-19 cruise passengers beyond its expiration on November 1, arguing that this will further strengthen the “confidence and certainty” of industry in the Bahamas.
Speaking after Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper confirmed that the requirement that all passengers aged 12 and over be fully vaccinated before embarking on a cruise will be extended until next year , Mr Maura said: “This brings more confidence and certainty to the industry.
“Why am I saying the cruise consumer has called various cruise lines, considering booking a Bahamas cruise or a Bahamas stopover and asking the question, ‘Do I need to be fully vaccinated? “What are the health protocols?” Cruise passengers have reportedly communicated that there was an emergency order and that the requirement was due to expire on October 31 at midnight.
“Government Choosing to Extend Vaccination Requirement for All Cruise Passengers 12 Years and Over Provides Industry with More Certainty and Allows Davis Administration to Continue to Monitor Global COVID-19 Situation . This brings more consistency and certainty to the current rebound in the cruise industry. “
The provisions of the cruise industry, contained in the Emergency Powers (COVID-19 Pandemic) Ordinance 2021 (Management and Recovery ((No.2) (Amendment) (No.8)), which entered effective August 19, were to last from September 3 to November 1, 2021.
These prohibit cruise ships from calling at Nassau, Freeport and other islands in the Bahamas – including the private islands of the lines – unless all passengers aged 12 and over have been fully vaccinated before they travel. board the vessel at its original port of departure. Cruise ships must also submit a health manifest on all passengers and crew before arriving in port, and comply with measures previously agreed with the government.