“Very close to being able to start”, is how Royal Caribbean International (RCI) Chief Executive Officer Michael Bayley described the cruise ship company’s beach club plans for Paradise Island, explaining yesterday to the media that RCI is close to concluding all of the issues surrounding the project.
Bayley spoke to the media following a reception honoring Bahamian para-triathlete Erin Brown, who has been selected to be the godmother of RCI cruise ship Odyssey of the Seas.
He was confident that the project will move forward unabated, though there has been opposition from Bahamian developer Toby Smith, who contends that the Crown land granted to RCI for its project encroaches on the Crown land granted to him for his project.
Environmentalists have also spoken out against RCI’s proposed development on Paradise Island, where the company has purchased several private plots of land and obtained a government Crown land lease for more acreage.
The cruise line is interested in developing the beach excursion on Paradise Island, given that it plans to greatly increase the number of passengers it brings into Nassau in the future and needs to expand its options for them when they leave a ship while in port.
“We’re very close to finalizing all of the various discussions, etc.,” said Bayley. “We’ve already created the concept, we’re very close to being able to start that project and we’re hoping that it will continue to be a very attractive option for the increased number of tourists that we’ll bring to Nassau and bring to The Bahamas overall.”
Bayley said the cruise company is “still very optimistic” about developing the Grand Lucayan and port, but explained that the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed that project. He explained that conversations with the new government about RCI’s projects have gone well, but he could not go into detail.
“We hope that we can bring that (Grand Lucayan project) alive in the coming years and we think that’s going to be a game changer for Freeport,” Bayley said.
“We have had productive discussions with the government regarding these projects that I talked about and they certainly have expressed their concerns of how they see the future and we’re more than happy to work in a partnership way to achieve these goals.
“So I think the discussions we’ve had with government representatives have been constructive and positive, as they should be with a company that has been coming to The Bahamas for over 50 years.
“We feel pretty much a part of the community. We feel like we want to be part of the solution.”
Bayley added that the company will invest in making the Grand Bahama Shipyard into a regional hub for the cruise industry.