Adventure sailed in to fanfare, a grand water salute escort courtesy of the Nassau Harbour Pilots Association.
Two consecutive days at CocoCay
The first passengers will embark June 12 for weeklong 'Bahamas & Perfect Day' summer cruises that feature the first series of two consecutive days on Perfect Day at CocoCay, Freeport on Grand Bahama Island and Mexico's Cozumel. Travelers 16 and older must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with the mandate dropping to age 12 on Aug. 1. All staff on CocoCay are to be vaccinated, too.
'We couldn’t be happier,' said Mike Maura, CEO of Nassau Cruise Port. 'This vessel and all the hope that this first voyage will carry out to sea on Saturday have been a long time in the making. We are very appreciative that Royal Caribbean has chosen to partner with us, with the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and all our industry partners to make this homeport launch from Nassau possible.'
Party in da backyard
Passengers will be greeted with a Bahamian 'party in da dackyard' upon their arrival at the port Saturday. This will include ice-cold Kaliks, courtesy of Commonwealth Brewery; live music, Junkanoo performances, drills by the students of the LJM Maritime Academy and other festivities. The entire event will be livestreamed on the Nassau Cruise Port Facebook page beginning at noon.
In addition to the economic benefits the Bahamas will experience as the industry rebounds, Maura noted Bahamians can also cruise from Nassau for the first time instead of flying abroad to embark.
'I’ve heard of a few Bahamians who will be sailing aboard Adventure of the Seas on this trip and I’m sure there will be many more of us who will take advantage of this incredible opportunity,' he said.
'Time to shine'
'This is our time to shine and to put Nassau on the map as a homeporting destination of choice,' Maura added. 'We will do so with immense pride, making the Bahamian people proud and making our guests and cruise line partners excited that they chose to start and end their cruise in Nassau. This is the beginning of an incredible voyage for us all.'
Crystal homeporting, too
Crystal Cruises will also homeport in Nassau this summer, with Crystal Serenity's all-Bahamas itinerary starting July 3.
$285m port transformation
The $285m Nassau Cruise Port is mid-way through construction, and on course to be finished in 2022. The project is adding a berth for two Oasis-class ships, extending a pier to handle a third Oasis-size vessel and transforming the waterfront with a new arrivals terminal, a festival place with amphitheater, entertainment, Bahamian retail, food and beverages and a Junkanoo Museum.
Nassau will go from being able to dock five ships including one Oasis-class vessel to six including three Oasis-class vessels. And the upland development is hoped to be a catalyst to improvements on Bay Street and beyond.
The marine side is on track for completion this year. Construction of the upland development, designed by Bermello Ajamil & Partners, is expected to begin in July with substantial completion by next summer.
IPO set back to Q3
An IPO to give thousands of Bahamians a chance to buy in to the project starting with a $1,000 minimum stake was put back from March/April to the third quarter to give more time for economic recovery. Also set for Q3: a bond issue seeking to raise $100m from institutional investors. In May last year, Nassau Cruise Port got $130m in an oversubscribed offering of 20-year bonds at 8%.
Region's biggest cruise project
'This is the biggest cruise industry project in the Caribbean,' said Global Ports Holding's Colin Murphy, head of business development, Americas. 'We were told by many that it would never happen.'
For more, see Seatrade Cruise Review's June cover story.