Port CEO: Bahamas has failed in providing experiences for cruise passengers

The Bahamas has “failed miserably” in providing experiences, services and value for cruise passengers, Nassau Cruise Port Limited (NCP) Chief Executive Officer Mike Maura Jr. said yesterday.

According to Maura, a recent survey by cruise lines of regional cruise ports showed that Nassau’s cruise port ranked only 19th out of 20 cruise ports, besting only Freeport.

“Nassau cruise port is incapable of providing experiences, services and value to 26,000 people, we might be able to accommodate 5,000, 6,000, 7000 people,” said Maura.

“But that still leaves another 15,000 to 20,000 people saying ‘what can I do, where can I go? We get it every single day.”

Maura made the remarks while appearing as a panelist at yesterday’s Bahamas Business Outlook.

According to him, more needs to be done to create experiences for the world’s busiest transit port.

He decried the state of some of the country’s tourist sites, like the forts and the water tower, and contended that they need to be developed into viable experiences for visitors, even if through a public-private partnership (PPP) model.

“Only by God’s grace, that being the geography, being our water, being our beautiful beaches, our warm weather and our wonderful smiles, are we getting the volume of tourism traffic that we receive, because we fail miserably in our service,” Maura said.

He said successive governments have failed in keeping up the infrastructure and also in ensuring infrastructure has improved over the years, especially the years since the shipping companies were moved to Arawak Cay.

Maura also lamented the state of the waterfront properties east of East Street.

“There was this effort and desire to see something great happen with downtown, and so while we were very, very successful in picking up commercial shipping and moving it to Arawak Cay… where the plan fell short is that here we are in 2023 and we still talk about just how horrible things are east of East Street,” he said.

“As a PPP, it would have been very effective and time sensitive had the government’s plan included addressing those key stakeholders that own the land from East Street going East to the Paradise Island Bridge.

“And had that been part of the master plan, then we would have all hoped that we would have seen better development running to the East, but the focus was entirely, if not exclusively, on picking up the dirty stuff, which was commercial shipping, and moving it.

“And the thought was, ‘well if we move it then the property owners are going to do something with their property’. But as we’ve seen, for the most part, they haven’t.”

Maura said the cruise lines would have liked to see the port remain as it was in order for them to “control the destination”.

Now, with the port’s redevelopment, the country is able to “gain more confidence, recognize that it had more power, so that it can sit at the table, across the table, and negotiate, because it has something to negotiate with”.

He said the cruise industry’s control has become an obstacle for the growth of the country’s cruise tourism.

Maura said PPPs like the NCP model should be about improving a public service and maximizing how the local community benefits from the partnership.

“The fact that you get something new shouldn’t be the driver for the decision around PPPs,” he said.

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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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