Royal Caribbean International this week revealed its cruise bookings for 2021 are within historical ranges, which could bode well for The Bahamas’ tourism industry, but Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar warned that the cruise industry still has several humps to get over before news of bookings can provide a level of comfort.
D’Aguilar said much of the cruise lines’ bookings have been deferred by passengers who were not able to sail this year because of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The cruise industry has voluntarily halted cruising until it can develop a solid plan to keep COVID-19 off of their ships and keep passengers safe while in port.
D’Aguilar called this cruise industry dilemma a “major hurdle”.
“The bookings are there, but people have to feel comfortable,” said D’Aguilar.
“I don’t think anyone is going on a 14-day cruise or a 30-day cruise, they are going to want to do a short cruise, three to five days tops, get on and off the boat before anybody gets sick.”
While D’Aguilar is confident that cruise lines will choose The Bahamas for those short itineraries that are likely to include those companies’ private islands, he said he would want those itineraries to include population centers like Nassau.
“Obviously as the country’s minister of tourism, I will be encouraging them to come to our population centers, but they will perceive that as a little more risky,” he said.
“But we certainly will be encouraging them… to create some meaningful economic impact that they won’t necessarily create by going to one of their private islands.”