Nassau Cruise Port Limited (NCP) has secured more than 950 berth bookings from cruise lines beginning in April, up to the end of the year. In addition, the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists in its COVID-19 response plan status update, both Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Group, the two largest cruise ship companies, with a huge majority of their ships’ no sail order response plans green-lighted.
All but one of Royal Caribbean’s ships were green-lighted by the CDC, while all but three of Carnival’s ships have received the same.
NCP Chief Executive Officer Mike Maura told Guardian Business yesterday that in two months, cruise lines could begin simulated sailings required by the CDC, with some of the vessels visiting the Port of Nassau to carry out simulated disembarkations.
Maura said those simulated events will help NCP to hone its own protocols, to ensure that the port is ready for when cruise lines begin sailing with paying passengers.
“We at Nassau Cruise Port have been in discussions with cruise lines and with the Ministry of Tourism around the possibility of including Nassau in a simulated call,” said Maura.
“That simulated call would provide the cruise line with the opportunity of testing is protocols and demonstrating its protocols in an international port of call like Nassau.
“It’s tremendously valuable to us as a cruise port operator, because it gives us a chance to test our protocols and tweak what needs to be tweaked and also obviously gives the government, whether it’s the Ministry of Health, whether it’s the Ministry of Transport by way of the Port Department, the opportunity to test its protocols. We look at that as being a very valuable possibility.”
Maura explained that the simulations will begin when the CDC is ready to authorize them.
He added that the CDC’s green-lighting of so many ships is good news for the industry.
“Over the last six weeks you have far better communication between the individual cruise lines and the CDC,” he said.
“And so you also have the cruise lines that are cycling their ships into US ports with the purpose of meeting with and complying with the various CDC requirements, continuing to make improvements in terms of medical facilities and infrastructure on board the ships as well as onboarding crew.”
Maura explained that while ships will only return with about 60 to 70 percent passenger occupancy, some ships have begun to book overnight stays at the Port of Nassau.
“We are in high demand,” Maura said.
“The Bahamas is blessed because a cruise line can have a three-stop itinerary, never leave the country and only pay one head tax, because they could go to their private island, they could go to Freeport, they could go to Nassau.
“Again we are strategically, geographically well-positioned to help the industry return.”