Royal Caribbean Group (RCG) yesterday announced that it has filed its environmental impact assessment (EIA) with the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection (DEPP) as it seeks to begin construction on the Royal Beach Club project on Paradise Island in October and is targeting May 2023 for completion.
The cruise giant is investing $110 million in the proposed project, which would be located on the western side of Paradise Island.
“As RCG is keen to improve the overall experience of cruise passengers, the proposed project will transform underutilized parcels of land into a productive economic and social hub for cruise passengers and Bahamians. The proposed project is an opportunity for RCG and the government of The Bahamas to foster a mutually beneficial long-term public/private partnership in Nassau,” the more than 180 page EIA document stated.
It continued, “… It is anticipated that with the payment of an entrance fee, the experience will include access to the Royal Beach Club, lunch and the rental of a beach chair. For an additional fee, guests will be able to purchase alcohol and sodas, a cabana, daybed, clamshell and participate in watersports and local tours.”
RCG already owns several acres of land on Paradise Island but is seeking approval to lease an additional seven acres of nearby Crown land.
RCG said there will be an array of activities available to guests, including but not limited to snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, jet-skiing, floating mat rental, inflatable water slides, parasailing, nature hikes, volleyball and other sand and water-related activities.
“The construction of a family attraction will delight visitors of all ages and may include water fountains and splash zones. While the location is inherently beautiful, RCG will also ensure that additional landscaping is planted throughout the site,” the EIA stated.
“As Paradise Island is close to the Nassau Port, guests will have direct and quick access to the harbor via water taxis. The construction of the water taxi harbor and dock may include dredging, seawalls, wave attenuators, docks and fixtures.”
The EIA said its research found no significant negative environmental impact from the proposed project, noting that the site will experience an insignificant loss of vegetation.
“However, implementation of mitigation techniques such as native landscaping and close construction footprint shall lessen overall impacts,” the document said.
“Additionally, the capital investment will positively impact the local community by providing employment and occupational transfer of skills while expanding the touristic offerings of the area. The developer emphasizes a local Bahamian workforce with minimal environmental impacts through the use of smart energy technology, smart building design and high-efficiency products.”
RCG said no alternative projects were developed for the location, and while a “no-action” alternative would result in no significant impacts to the natural environment, it would also not provide the economic stimulus of the further development of Paradise Island.
“No action may also limit the long-term growth of the area in comparison with similar places in The Bahamas and elsewhere in the Caribbean which are larger and have a greater range of amenities,” the EIA said.
“Employment levels would likely remain static and may act as a potential deterrent of regional and local development that would certainly take advantage of the Paradise Island improvements and any sufferance facilities offered at the Paradise Island operations.”
RCG has estimated that its project would have a $1 billion economic impact on the country’s economy over 10 years through guest spend, government taxes and other expenditures.
The company has pledged to hire 250 Bahamians for construction and operations.
“RCG brings over two million passengers to The Bahamas annually, and completion of this project will increase the passenger count dramatically. In addition, all 25 RCG ships are currently registered in The Bahamas. The project will improve the cruise guest experience, and to promote future passenger traffic growth to the project, site improvements are essential. The project will provide an economic benefit to the government of The Bahamas and its residents from the various islands within The Bahamas,” the EIA said.
“The increase in cruise ship passengers will provide additional revenue to the government in the form of head taxes and customs. In addition, the project will create additional employment opportunities for Bahamians both in design and construction jobs as well as permanent operation as discussed in previous sections.”
The company has said the site could accommodate 3,500 guests once complete.
“Upon project completion, Royal Caribbean visitors will spend more time in Nassau,” the company said on the EIA website.
“During a call that could last up to nine hours, the Royal Beach Club experience will include four to five hours on Paradise Island plus additional time for shopping and other Nassau attractions.”
RCG said the Royal Beach Club would feature Bahamian entertainers and artists that showcase the rich history and culture of The Bahamas and Bahamian residents, their families and friends would be permitted to enjoy amenities at reduced rates.
The company added that the project would result in millions of dollars in annual contracts to Bahamian businesses including those for shore excursions, logistics, environmental services, security, beach and sports rental equipment, warehousing, water-taxi services and waste management.
Part of the property on which RCG plans to build its beach club is embroiled in a court battle.
Paradise Island Lighthouse & Beach Club Co. Ltd. (PILBC) has proposed plans to transform the westernmost portion of Paradise Island – which contains a historic lighthouse – into a beach club.