The cruise lines are less interested in operating the Port of Nassau and more interested in ensuring the facilities at the port and the guest experience are enhanced, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL) Michael Bayley said yesterday.
Bayley, who spoke to the press as he visited the National Training Agency (NTA), said the cruise lines have a lot of insight to offer into creating the shore experience that cruise guests expect, and explained that there are elements of Nassau’s port that need to be developed.
The cruise companies that call on the Port of Nassau, along with local representation by Bahamian businessman Gerald Strachan, put in a bid to redevelop and operate the port.
In October government issued a request for proposals (RFP) to provide plans for redeveloping the port and parts of Bay Street. The bid process closed last Friday, and it was revealed Monday that the cruise lines came together to submit a bid.
“We take about 5.5 million guests per year on our ships all over the world,” Bayley said.
“We have a lot of insight and experience as to what really clicks and works with guests, and there are elements that need to be developed, in terms of the guest experience in the destination.
“I would say in Nassau, as there are in all destinations, there are opportunities; and I think those opportunities can be best developed through more partnerships between the tourism ministry, the Bahamian people, the local community and the cruise companies.
“Together we can really develop the experience, and I think that something that we’re interested in doing is the development of the overall experience and providing insight and experience that can accelerate that development. And that’s something I think all of the cruise companies, and I imagine the Bahamian community itself, would like to see.”
Bayley said the fact that the cruise companies have come together to offer a bid to operate the cruise port is a testament to their commitment to the future of the cruise industry in The Bahamas. But he insisted that the companies simply want to see the port offer a much better customer experience than it currently does, and that they are not as interested in the operations side.
“The cruise companies are not necessarily interested in operating the port,” said Bayley.
“We have these projects all over the world, and they’re primarily aimed at making sure there’s really efficient and good facilities to accommodate the number of ships that come in. We’re less interested in trying to operate the port itself.
“There would be a mechanism in place to ensure that it’s operated in a very distinct and separate way. We have projects around the world where we have similar-type arrangements. It’s our business, this is what we do, what we’ve done for decades, and I think we can bring a huge amount of expertise and commitment to the proposal that’s slightly different from private entities that don’t really understand the business.”
Bayley said RCCL has meetings with Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis today to update him on the company’s projects and to talk to him about its ideas on how to increase tourism to The Bahamas.