VP: Crown land essential to Royal Caribbean’s PI project 

‘I don’t know that we would be able to do it on a smaller scale’

If Royal Caribbean Group is not successful in obtaining the seven acres of Crown land at the western end of Paradise Island for its Royal Beach Club, it may not be able to move forward with the project, the cruise line’s Vice President of Government Relations Russell Benford suggested yesterday.

While not saying specifically that the project would not move forward, Benford, who made the remarks during an appearance on Guardian Radio’s “Morning Blend” with Dwight Strachan, said there are boxes that have to be ticked in order for Royal Caribbean to produce a project like the Royal Beach Club, adding that only when those boxes are ticked will the development happen.

According to Benford, those seven acres of beach front are a critical check box for Royal Caribbean and the cruise line is not willing to scale back the project.

“I don’t know that we would be able to do it on a smaller scale,” said Benford. “If you find a piece of property where you can tick all the boxes, then you move forward with production.”

Benford said the company pays close attention to square footage per person when building things like a beach club. He said with the need for social distancing brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, more space is critical in regards to comfort for the guests.

Royal Caribbean’s requested Crown land encroaches on a part of Crown land being sought by Paradise Island Lighthouse & Beach Club, owned by Toby Smith.

Smith said he was offered the Crown land by the government just before Royal Caribbean put in its bid for the beach club. Smith has taken the government to court over the matter.

Royal Caribbean maintains that the beach club is critical to accommodate the number of passengers that will eventually come into the port of Nassau on any given day.

Benford said Royal Caribbean could bring as many as 2.5 million passengers to The Bahamas in 2022. He said the beach club can only hold a fraction of the number of passengers a cruise ship can bring and sees the beach club as a accessory on an island where cruise guests have complained there is nothing to do.

“We don’t want our guests to stay on the ship all day… we want them to come into port and experience Nassau and all that it has to offer,” said Benford. “We don’t want to have issues with overcrowding, so we provide venues.”

According to Benford, by 2030 Royal Caribbean could bring as many as six million passengers to The Bahamas per year.

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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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