Nassau’s revitalized cruise port is set for a grand opening the last weekend in May, Nassau Cruise Port Limited (NCP) Chief Executive Officer Mike Maura Jr. told Guardian Business yesterday, after going over dates with Prime Minister Philip Davis.
Currently more than 300 workers are putting the finishing touches on a cruise port that is expected to be the envy of the Caribbean.
NCP had hoped to mark the opening of the port on May 6, Maura said, but that is scheduled to be the coronation day for King Charles III, and Davis will be out of town.
Maura explained that when the port does officially open at the end of May, there will likely be several opening events to mark the occasion.
“You have to manage a grand opening definitely with safety as number one, and so as we think about how we’re planning it, it’s not gonna be a one-day event, it’s gonna be over a few days,” said Maura.
“Obviously there is going be a government event, because the government’s going to want to participate. The government’s going to want to showcase. The government’s likely going to invite its political colleagues from around the region, and so those folks will be coming in. There’s likely going to be a day that is really focused on the political stakeholders, not just in The Bahamas but around the region. And then you have another day which is going to be celebrated from the cruise industry perspective. But and then you’re gonna have another day that would be for general folks to come in and see for themselves. But what we can’t do from a safety perspective is we can’t have 50,000 people in the space.”
Maura gave The Nassau Guardian a tour of the property yesterday and almost all of the structures germane to the operations of the cruise port are where they are supposed to be and are simply awaiting accoutrements.
The most dominant features of the port, notwithstanding five massive cruise ships yesterday, are the arrivals terminal, the Junkanoo museum, and the steel structure that towers over the port that is to be the velarium of the port’s amphitheater.
The many booths that will house the former tenants of Festival Place line the streets and waterside, outfitted with formidable doors that Maura said will protect them from the likes of a Category 5 hurricane.
He explained that all of the marine work is finished, and the result of that work is that Nassau’s cruise port can accommodate four of the world’s largest cruise vessels all at once.
“Today we had six cruise ships in port and we’ve had six cruise ships in port many times before.
“In terms of the upland commercial works, you would see that the arrivals terminal, the structure is complete and now it is in a fit out stage.
“You would see that in the marketplace area, which is to accommodate and be the new home for the legacy Festival Place tenants, that the structure is in place. The dry wall is in place and now it’s a question of the finish work, of painting and displays and so forth, you can see the hair braider station, the conduits coming out of the ground to support the water. So that is, I would probably say, about 75 percent.”
According to Maura, the temporary arrivals terminal will be disassembled in two weeks as the port prepares to build out the ground transportation area.
He pointed out that the Junkanoo museum will feature a solarium that will house one of the big Junkanoo pieces from that year, on display for cruise passengers as soon as they exit the arrivals terminal.
Maura said cruise lines are scrambling to have a booking for the last Saturday in May, when the port will open with local and international acts on its brand new amphitheater stage.