With its eyes set on beginning site work on its South Eleuthera cruise port this year, Disney Cruise Line revealed that it hopes to make a selection on the contractor for the project by mid-May.
The cruise company held a virtual public meeting last week on its publicly released environmental impact assessment (EIA), where it reaffirmed its pledge to create at least 120 construction jobs for Bahamians.
“Right now, we are still out in a competitive bid environment. We will be looking to select a contractor by mid to end of May to develop the project. The way we are treating the contracting for the project is via a design build, which means that we will hire a general contractor that will be responsible for the design and the construction of the poject,” Senior Project Manager at Walt Disney Imagineering David Chiaradonna said.
“That means they will have the architect, engineer under their purview. What we’ve given them is a very robust request for proposal for the project that will allow them to come up with the means and methods to use sustainable practices, all the things we’re looking at, to develop the project with a very light footprint and very light touch to the environment and the land side portion.”
The cruise port project design includes an open-trestle pier and small marina that do not require dredging; an art and culture center; walking paths and beach areas for beach chairs and cabanas; food, beverage and merchandise locations; back-of-house support areas and service roads; a newly constructed public roadway; and an access site including the southernmost point, for Bahamian residents and citizens for non-commercial purposes.
In addition to construction jobs, Disney Cruise Line has committed to providing 150 permanent jobs for Bahamians, which its Vice President of Public Affairs Kim Prunty said will pay between $600-$700 weekly including benefits.
“So, at least 150 jobs for Bahamians, its in a variety of roles. These are jobs that are well-paying and with benefits. As I mentioned, $600-$700 weekly, which is above the average and it’s similar to what we’re doing at Castaway Cay. We’ve previously had about 150 jobs for Bahamians at Castaway,” she said.
“We’re moving toward 100 percent Bahamian and I think that is completely possible at Castaway as well as Lighthouse Point.”
DCL said while at least 150 jobs will be specifically provided by Disney, there is an expectation that there will be many more once the project is up and running by the targeted 2024 opening date.
When pressed further on how many jobs will be at the site in total, Prunty said, “We will have at least 150 employees at Lighthouse Point. The intention is to have those filled with Bahamians, but that’s just working for Disney Cruise Line. We anticipate many other jobs in the form of vendors who provide services and goods to the operation and who provide jobs.
“We anticipate jobs being generated by our port adventurers and tour operators. We anticipate jobs being created by the artisans who will bring their goods to be sold at the site. We like to have interactive experiences for our guests, so we anticipate that people won’t just sell their goods, they’ll show guests how to make them.”
Disney purchased 758 acres of the 919-acre site located at the southernmost tip of Eleuthera in 2019, from a private owner who intended to construct condominiums and a marina at the site.
Disney’s plans include developing less than 20 percent of the property, promising to make most of the construction low-density open-air structures, patios and walkways.
Disney has also pledged to donate a quarter of the land it purchased to the people and government of The Bahamas.