Excursion boats left Nassau’s cruise port yesterday filled to capacity – as far as COVID-19 regulations allow – and Downtown Nassau bustled with activity as five cruise ships with 8,000 to 9,000 passengers called on the port at once.
Nassau Cruise Port Limited’s (NCP) Chief Executive Officer Mike Maura said it was the first time since The Bahamas began being affected by COVID-19 that that many cruise ships were berthed at the cruise port together.
According to Maura, the cruise port will begin to average about three to four berthed vessels daily as the cruise industry continues to ramp up operations.
Cruise lines are continuing to restrict the number of passengers on their ships because of the ongoing threat of COVID-19. Maura said without the
restrictions, Nassau could have received up to 20,000 visitors yesterday.
By mid-December the cruise port will be able to accommodate six cruise ships, greatly increasing the visitor capacity by the end of the year.
“What we’re doing is making sure that these berths are ready so that we can accommodate the arrival of the vessel itself, but also safely disembark and embark the passengers themselves,” said Maura.
“What we will see as we move from the month of October into November, December and into 2022 is that every month we’re going to see those occupancy numbers on those ships increasing, so we have to be proactive around how we’re moving people.”
Yesterday Maura gave Minister of Transport Jobeth Coleby-Davis her first tour of the port facility’s upgrades. Coleby-Davis said she did the port tour to understand the protocols NCP has put in place to ensure the safety of workers and visitors as construction of the new port carries on and how the company’s construction progress has been going.
“There are three things that would be priority for me as minister of transport, the first thing is security. I want to make sure we have the proper security protocols in place for obviously the employees, but definitely the tourists that are coming to our shores and making sure that the protocols protect the staff employed to do the construction work and then the tourists that are back and forth off the ship,” Coleby-Davis said.
“The second thing is how we are blending the relationship between the Nassau Cruise Port and the Port Department, making sure that we also maintain the relationship with the tour, taxi and bus services that are providing services to the tourists as they come in and out.
“The third thing is maintenance. I told Mr. Maura that it is important to have a beautiful structure, it’s important to attract people, but what’s important is how we maintain the structure and so that was my main concern as well. What are the maintenance procedures? Are we going above and beyond what we could maintain, because we get these beautiful structures and then five, ten years later we don’t know how to keep it up to standard?”
Steel has begun to be placed in the ground to support the new cruise port buildings and the land reclamation process is almost complete.
The port is scheduled to open fully by the summer of 2022.