Carnival Corporation plans to begin the development of its $100 million cruise port on Grand Bahama by mid 2020 after signing a deal with the government yesterday for the project, and also for $80 million worth of improvements to the cruise line’s private island, Half Moon Cay.
Carnival’s Senior Vice President of Global Port and Destination Development Giora Israel said Carnival’s Grand Bahama port will be its largest cruise port anywhere in the world, and contended that his company intends to build a “great” and “resilient” port after seeing the devastation left behind on Grand Bahama following the passage of Hurricane Dorian.
Israel, who was on Grand Bahama for the signing of the heads of agreement with the government, explained that Carnival did not need to experience the destructive power of a strong Category 5 hurricane to know how it should build the new port.
“We did not need to learn lessons from Dorian to know how to build it right, maybe we learned half a lesson,” Israel said.
“But we know that hurricanes are not a matter of if, but just a matter of when. Therefore, we need always to do whatever is necessary to make these things as resilient as possible, economically and otherwise, and we will do so.”
A press release from Carnival explained that the company’s construction parameters will be “designed to meet or exceed guidelines for being able to mostly withstand the impact of a Category 5 hurricane”.
Minister of State for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson, who spoke at the signing, said Carnival’s commitment to the cruise port on Grand Bahama in the wake of Hurricane Dorian provides the island and the country with hope.
“Today is a good day in Grand Bahama,” Thompson said.
“In the midst of destruction and devastation there is hope. Today we sign the heads of agreement between the government of The Bahamas and the Carnival Corporation as a further step to make Carnival’s grand port project at Sharp Rock a reality.
“This is not just the signing of a document, but a significant step towards rebuilding a new and improved Grand Bahama.
“This is a clear message to every business, every business owner and every participant in our local economy, that not only will we build, but we will rebuild better than ever.”
Thompson expressed his gratitude for Carnival’s unwavering support of Grand Bahama and The Bahamas. The company and its owners pledged $2 million to hurricane relief efforts.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, who also brought remarks at the signing, said the development of the new port will be “a significant catalyst for economic growth in Grand Bahama”.
“This cruise port, which will be the largest Carnival cruise port in the world, seeks to make Grand Bahama and The Bahamas one of the best cruise destinations in the Caribbean,” Minnis said.
“And, when completed, the new port is expected to bring millions more tourists to our shores each year.”
According to Minnis, Carnival’s project was long-expected, and Israel explained that the process to complete the agreement was “difficult”.
“We had a long session to get us to where we are, and we feel good about the process,” Israel said.
“It was open, honest and transparent. We fought a lot, but we have reached a point to where we are so delighted to be here today.”
Minnis explained that Carnival’s Grand Bahama development will include a water park, lighthouse and fort for recreation, nightclubs and restaurants, a harbor town plaza and, in the future, zip lines and rock climbing walls.
He added that the development will also include the establishment of park areas, an open-air entertainment facility and amphitheater and a helicopter pad for medical and recreational needs.
Government is continuing its negotiations with Royal Caribbean Cruises and ITM on their cruise port and hotel development project. An agreement is expected before the end of the year.