These will be the first cruise ships ever to homeport at Nassau, so there's much to work out, along with the implementation of new COVID-19 protocols. At the same time, the Nassau port is undergoing a major transformation.
Adventure of the Seas is scheduled to start June 12 and Crystal Serenity on July 3. Both ships are to operate with fully vaccinated crew and adult passengers.
Excited to participate in cruising's relaunch
'We are extremely excited to participate in the relaunch of cruising in the region,' said Mike Maura Jr., regional director, Americas, GPH and CEO, Nassau Cruise Port Ltd. 'While homeport service may not have been a part of the short-term strategy for Nassau one year ago, we are more than willing to speed up our plans and adapt to ensure the survival of the industry.'
Maura said this opportunity entailed a strong commitment to partnership by Nassau Cruise Port, the Bahamas government and the cruise lines.
'Each entity works together to ensure that everyone has what they need to make this work. NCP collaborates with the government to contribute to policy and regulation development to ensure that the best interests of our communities are maintained; the government collaborates with the cruise lines on health protocols, contractual matters and other details to ensure a mutually beneficial partnership exists on an ongoing basis; and NCP works with the cruise lines to ensure that their operational, passenger experience and other needs are met at the port.'
The homeporting vessels will potentially bring thousands of passengers to Nassau, benefiting not just the port but providing economic activity for hotels, tour operators, taxis and other tourism stakeholders.
According to August 2020 data from the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, the Caribbean lost at least 8m jobs last year due to the pandemic.
'COVID-19 brought bustling ports like Nassau and Antigua (also managed by GPH) to a complete standstill,' Maura said. 'It is our duty to do whatever we can to bring those jobs back to our communities, to reinspire confidence in the industry and to demonstrate our support for the cruise lines as we work together to bring the industry back to its former glory — one voyage at a time.'
Nassau homeport operations will begin amid ongoing construction as general contractor ENKA completes the marine works and starts the upland development. Maura said operations are being planned so passengers aren't affected.
Nassau Cruise Port has been accredited with the Safe Travels certification from the World Tourism and Travel Council. And, as part as Global Ports Holding, it also will apply the GPH health and safety protocols.
Antigua homport potential, too
GPH's Colin Murphy, head of business development, Americas, said being able to give cruise lines the option to homeport presents a 'massive opportunity for Nassau and Antigua, making partnerships with our ports even more critical in influencing the regional success of the industry.
'Fortunately, GPH has an extensive experience in homeport operations in many of its Mediterranean ports,' he continued. 'We are sharing the knowledge that these ports have with our Caribbean teams to assist with developing port-specific homeport protocols.'
According to Murphy, GPH recently received interest from several lines about homeporting in Antigua as well as Nassau.
'As our discussions with the cruise lines advance, we continue to pursue opportunities to expand our reach in the Americas to bring more business and opportunities to other communities in the region,' he said.