Nassau Cruise Port (NCP) is projecting that more than 600,000 cruise visitors will pass through the Port of Nassau in the fourth quarter of 2020, with little to no sailings into the port for the next five months, NCP Chief Executive Officer Mike Maura told Guardian Business yesterday.
Maura added that the Port of Nassau could see close to three million cruise passengers by 2021, before returning in 2023 to 2019 levels, when there were 3.81 million cruise visitors to Nassau’s cruise port.
Maura said the months-long lull in cruise travel, even if ports reopen following the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) threat, will likely be the period that cruise lines use to establish new and proper protocols to guard against any further transmission of the virus.
“The cruise industry is still working out the details. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has to finalize what the specific requirements will be for the ships and what the specific requirements will be for the home port terminals,” said Maura.
“And the same kinds of challenges exist for the airline industry as well; the airlines are still looking to receive final instructions from the CDC.”
Maura said cruise lines are looking to The Bahamas as a jumping-off destination for when they begin sailing again and when traveler confidence returns.
He said before the shutdown to battle COVID-19, Nassau’s cruise port had already hosted 835,000 passengers for the year. He said NCP expects to end the year with more than 1.47 million cruise visitors on Nassau’s books.
“The cruise industry that sails from the East Coast of the United States has been very clear that The Bahamas is strategic in its launch and so you’re likely going to have more that 635,000 people (in the fourth quarter of 2020),” he said.
Maura said between now and the fourth quarter of 2020, cruise lines will have their marketing engines in full swing and would have finalized their strategies to keep passengers safe.
He added that with many cruise lines already invested in new, larger ships, the industry is poised for growth in the medium term and he contended that NCP will be prepared for that growth through the redevelopment of Nassau’s cruise port.
According to Maura, NCP is working closely with cruise lines, the Ministry of Health and the International Maritime Organization to ensure that it has all the appropriate protocols in place post-COVID-19.