Nassau Cruise Port Limited (NCP) will reach an important milestone at the end of the month when it begins to drive sheet piles into the seabed, marking the start of construction of Nassau’s state-of-the-art cruise port.
In a virtual press conference to present an update on the project yesterday, NCP’s Chief Executive Officer Mike Maura said the demolition of the port’s old Customs warehouse and of Festival Place were monumental milestones of their own.
The sheet piles will mark the beginning of the expansion of Prince George Wharf to accommodate more Oasis class ships and eventually Icon class vessels.
Maura said by the second quarter of 2021, Bahamians will be able to see recognizable progress as structures begin to come out of the ground. It is around this same time that Bahamians will have the opportunity to invest in the port, according to Maura.
“We were looking at some time in the second quarter of 2021, when persons will actually be able to see work done,” Maura said.
He added that the return of cruise ships to the port is expected by the second quarter of 2021, noting that the cruise industry is likely to have a growth in vessels sailing next year as well.
Cruise lines have not sailed to the Port of Nassau since the country closed its borders to battle the COVID-19 pandemic in March.
Maura also revealed that the Virgin Voyages cruise line has been in conversation with NCP about making stops at Nassau’s cruise port when it begins its sailings. The company had shown no indication in its early itineraries of considering Nassau as a destination, opting to sail to its private club in Bimini and then Caribbean destinations.
Mehmet Kutman, the chairman of Global Ports Holding – NCP’s parent company – said yesterday that he thinks the COVID-19 pandemic will have tapered off in the next six months and that by the second or third quarter of 2021, the country will begin to get “back to our old days”.
He noted that the lack of cruise ships at the port means that demolition and construction has been able to move forward unaffected by passenger foot traffic, though the port is prepared for that eventuality in 2021.
Kutman said his propensity for constant improvements to his plans for the port means there will be cost overruns.
He added though that there will be no financial challenges impeding the development of the port, ensuring that if more money cannot be raised or money runs short, Global Ports Holding, will “easily swallow” any unmet development costs.
“The government is kind of lucky to have selected us rather than anyone else,” said Kutman. “Even in these dire times, construction is proceeding full speed.”