Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) believes once cruise sailings return to pre-pandemic levels, and with the completion of its proposed piers and harbor development on Great Stirrup Cay (GSC) in the Berry Islands, it will see a 10 to 15 percent increase in passengers that call on that island.
There is currently no pier on GSC and cruise passengers are ferried from the ship to the island.
In its recently published environmental impact assessment that was submitted to the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection (DEPP), NCL said piers are greatly needed to minimize the missed calls on the private island during higher wind/wave events that prevent passengers from safely disembarking the anchored cruise ship via the current tender transport.
“The increased passenger efficiency afforded by the piers will ensure passengers’ arrival, and increase revenues for the Bahamas and NCL, employees and vendors who rely on the island’s visitors,” said the EIA, which was developed for NCL by Islands by Design Ltd. and Cummins Cederberg, Inc.
The developers want to construct two permanent cruise ship piers on the north side of the island.
Dredging will be required, which is expected to impact the marine environment. There are also plans for “minor alterations” to the shoreline so that cruise ships can be connected.
It is anticipated, the EIA stated, that approximately eight acres of reef will be impacted by the dredging.
The proposal also calls for the removal of vegetation for the creation of settlement ponds, the placement of temporary pipelines along existing roadways, and plans to construct future staff roadways and back-of-house infrastructure.
“The development of GSC is in keeping with the National Development Plan to have an anchor project in every family island. In addition to visitors’ patronage of local entrepreneurs, the Bahamas government levies a passenger tax on visitors to the country,” the EIA said.
“A passenger tax of $29 is collected from all airline passengers and a passenger tax of $18 is collected from all cruise ship passengers. It is anticipated that upon return to pre-COVID-19 sailing trends, GSC expects to accommodate 714,000 visitors post-expansion with a 10-15 percent increase per annum as passenger usage stabilizes.”