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The Nassau Cruise Port consortium aims to transform the Prince George Wharf area in what is hoped to be a catalyst for downtown Nassau's redevelopment RENDERING: Global Ports Holding

Global Ports Holding tapped for $250m Nassau port redevelopment

Chalk up another major Caribbean-region cruise development project for Global Ports Holding with its selection to develop Nassau's Prince George Wharf to the tune of $250m.

Follows Havana and Antigua deals

GPH, which earlier scored long-term deals to manage cruise operations in Antigua and Havana, Cuba, was chosen by The Bahamas for the Nassau redevelopment from a field of three bidders.

A 25-year concession is being considered. Specific terms are still to be negotiated.

New Bahamian success story

'This project marks the beginning of a new Bahamian success story,' GPH chairman Mehmet Kutman said. 'The government of The Bahamas is opening doors to create the kinds of opportunities that will make life better for all Bahamians. As the approved bidder for the cruise port project, we are extremely pleased and honored to have been selected as one of the government’s partners in this process.'

Kutman said GPH's shared mission with The Bahamas is 'to turn the port and downtown Nassau into a popular, world-class waterfront destination for visitors and Bahamians to enjoy.

'We know that the cruise industry is flourishing. Bahamians must be a part of it—not just sitting on the sidelines watching others benefit. We want every Bahamian who is willing and able to participate in this process to get involved. This will be a critical component of our mutual success.'

Nassau Cruise Port shareholders

Prince George Wharf is not being sold; it will continue to be owned by The Bahamas. A special-purposed company, Nassau Cruise Port Ltd., has been created for the redevelopment project. Under the proposed ownership structure, GPH will hold a 49% stake, while another 49% will be owned by the Bahamas Investment Fund. This fund will allow thousands of Bahamians to become shareholders with a minimum $1,000 stake. The final 2% will be used to establish the YES Foundation, a charitable fund to support youth, education and sports programs.

The plan also entails the development of a world-class entertainment venue, the formation of partnerships with local stakeholders and various forms of support to improve the downtown core.

Proactive proposal

Teaming with local partners including Arawak Port Development Corp., GPH had proactively created a proposal to transform the facilities at Prince George Wharf, one of cruising's busiest ports with about 3.5m passengers annually, into an entertainment zone that's integrated with the city. One of the piers would be extended to add two berths.

'The Nassau Cruise Port project is very innovative and environmentally friendly,' GPH CEO Emre Sayin told Seatrade Cruise Review. 'It's not a way to box people in. In fact, we even did away with fences.'

The ships would be secured but the port would become part of the city with a park, open-air amphitheater, walkways and transport. Improving the flow of people is a key focus, Sayin added.

After receiving the plan, The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism decided to issue a request for proposals to improve Prince George Wharf. Besides GPH and its local partners, the two other bidders were a group led by Providence Advisors, a Bahamian-owned financial services company; and a consortium representing Carnival, Disney, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean.

Ambitious completion date

Sayin told Seatrade Cruise Review GPH aims to have the project completed in a 'quite ambitious' two years.

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