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$4.2 million cruise spend from re-routed Carnival ship

An additional$4.2 million cruise spend will be navigating its way to Bahamian waters in the fall, according to the Director of Cruise Development for the Ministry of Tourism, Carla Stuart.

The re-routing of the Carnival Ecstasy starting November 7 will bring 65,000 passengers and$1.1 million in head taxes, providing a large boost for the sector, Carla Stuart toldGuardian Business.

“This will bring tremendous business for Nassau and Grand Bahama on the cruise front,”Stuart said.”Having another ship calling in the country will certainly bring its direct and indirect benefits and will be a great contributor to the positive growth in the industry.”

Ecstacy’s modified schedule is part of a promotion being offered by Carnival called”Fun Ship.”The 2,052 passenger ship will offer four-and five-day cruises which will call into Nassau, Freeport and Half Moon Cay.

Stuart said a minimum of 25 visits will be made to the country, and it will be beneficial to the Grand Bahama cruise sector in particular.

“This certainly will increase the growth in the Grand Bahama cruise industry and could mean well for the people of the island,”she said.”Grand Bahama exceeded visitor counts last year and we’re expecting this increase to continue to bring more benefits from this type of business.”

Grand Bahama experienced a 55.1 percent increase in its cruise visitors in the 10-month period up to October 2010, according to the Central Bank of The Bahamas.

Stuart said the island was close to surpassing one million cruise visitors, and had the potential to reach that milestone this year.

Discussions are ongoing about making Grand Bahama ahome cruise port for thousands of cruise passengers annually.

The steady growth is a positive sign, despite fears from the Caribbean Tourism Organization(CTO)that the region could experience a potential dropoff in visitors this year, especially during the summer months.

Stuart said there are no major concerns of a decline in that area, adding that passenger arrivals are on pace with the previous year.

A minimum of 250,000 additional cruise passengers are also expected to arrive in the country due to a partnership with theFlorida-Caribbean Cruise Association(FCCA), guaranteeing those visitors and bringing at least$5 million in head taxes. That agreement will last until 2012.

Stuart said she was optimistic that the sector would continue to grow at a steady pace and remain consistent throughout the year.

The Carnival Ecstasy will call to the Bahamas until February 2012.

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