‘Homeporting could fill 30 percent vacant room deficit’

Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) President Robert ‘Sandy’ Sands explained last week that cruise line homeporting in The Bahamas presents an opportunity to fill 30 percent of hotel rooms that often earn no revenue, and added that the country gets “one bite at this apple” to prove to cruise lines that homeporting locally can be a long-term, viable option for them.

Sands’ remarks were included in a press statement after he made them on the ZNS show Direct Talk with host David Wallace.

The statement explained that the additional airlift being negotiated to bring cruise passengers into Nassau for their cruise embarkation has the possibility to translate into room nights.

“Guests may want to stay in Nassau or go to the Family Islands after their cruise as well and the more time the ship spends in The Bahamas, the greater the demand for local services,” the statement read.

Sands said homeporting is welcomed and represents “good news” for The Bahamas.

He said tourism officials have not always been on one accord with the cruise lines, but he touted this move by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Crystal Cruises as a game changer.

“We have not always seen eye-to-eye,” said Sands.

“Homeporting will be the beginning of a new chapter in our history. We can see the synergy between the cruise and hotel industry as a result of the agreement for homeporting and for the first time, we will work together for the benefit of the destination.

“We are on the precipice of something major … but we only get one bite at this apple.”

Royal Caribbean will set sail for the first time from Nassau on June 12 and for the first time in more than a year sailing on a seven night itinerary that will include a stop in Grand Bahama.

Royal Caribbean’s Vice President of Government Relations Russell Benford, who was on the show along with Sands, said he believes homeporting can help turn the country’s economy around.

“It is wonderful to be here sitting with the hotel industry and with a leader like Sandy Sands,” Benford said.

“It’s an exciting time. You no longer will need to choose hotel or cruise. You can enjoy both, and thanks to homeporting, we will help reinvigorate the economy as we recover from the pandemic.

“The economic opportunity and impact for the small to medium-sized business, even larger businesses, is in the millions of dollars.”

Royal Caribbean said it will work with local suppliers to outfit its cruise ship, as all provisioning will be done on Grand Bahama.

Sands said if The Bahamas is to be successful at homeporting, those businesses interacting with the cruise lines will need to employ the best service standards.

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Chester Robards

Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian. Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism

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