FREEPORT, Grand Bahama – Carnival Cruise Line started construction on its $200 million cruise port in East Grand Bahama yesterday.
The project is expected to result in 1,000 permanent jobs and hundreds of construction jobs on the island.
“… We will complete it before the end of 2024,” Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy told reporters following a ceremony in East Grand Bahama.
“Today was not only a celebration and a groundbreaking but also day one of construction. So the construction process begins immediately.”
The port is expected to facilitate the largest Carnival vessel, the Mardi Gras, which is an XL class ship – 345 meters with a 6,600 passenger count.
Duffy said the new port will be able to accommodate two ships at once.
“It’s a large opportunity for Carnival Cruise Line and our guests, but also for Grand Bahama, which will be in a position to receive these guests in a unique and new destination port,” she said.
Duffy continued, “We expect that we will have a million guests per year and there will be multiple ships that will be calling every week. So Carnival Cruise Line is known for being and keeping the majority of our fleet year-round in the US, so we will have continuous operations 12 months of the year bringing guests to this port.”
She said the cruise line has purchased 329 acres for the project. Duffy said 30 percent of those acres will be kept as preserved land.
The new cruise port will feature pools, a one-mile beach, cabanas, and food and beverage areas.
Duffy said guests will be able to purchase tour excursions to Freeport.
In September 2019, Carnival signed a heads of agreement with the government for the development of the new port. Construction for the project was slated to start in 2020 but it was delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought global tourism and the cruise industry to a halt.
The previous administration was voted out of office, having not approved environmental permits needed to move the project forward. Those permits were approved shortly after the Davis administration came to office.
‘New day for Grand
The Carnival project represents a major investment in the economy of Grand Bahama and signals to the world that the island is “poised for the future and on the way to the forefront as one of the region’s premier destinations”, Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation Chester Cooper said.
“It will tell the global community that if there was any doubt, Grand Bahama – and indeed The Bahamas – is opened of business,” he said.
Cooper said the government sees the project as a priority, and has been assured of not only jobs but entrepreneurial opportunities for Bahamians.
“Carnival understands that its success in bringing passengers here spells success for Grand Bahama,” Cooper said.
“Grand Bahama’s beauty, warm and friendly people and commitment to providing a safe, fun and diverse experience for those who come here will mean Carnival’s continued success.”
Prime Minister Philip Davis said the project indicates that the island’s economy is “on its way up”.
“The magic is returning to the magic city,” he said at the groundbreaking ceremony.
“We fully expect the Carnival Cruise port in the re-emergence of the Grand Bahama economy. This is indeed … a new day for Grand Bahamians.”
Davis said Carnival has played an important role in The Bahamas’ economy for several decades.
He said it will continue to contribute to the Bahamian tourism industry for years to come.
“It is thanks to the leadership and innovative minds at Carnival that we have been able to partner with them to deliver world-class experiences for visitors to our nation with ports of call in Nassau, Grand Bahama, Bimini, Half Moon Cay and the Princess Cays,” the prime minister said.
“Carnival has demonstrated what geographically diverse, Bahamas-wide investment can look like when it is done effectively. With this new venture, Grand Bahama is set to benefit from another major development courtesy of the team at Carnival.
“The government of The Bahamas welcomes Carnival Cruise Line’s $200 million investment into Grand Bahama as a sign of true economic partnership with the island of Grand Bahama.”
Carnival Corporation President and CEO Arnold Donald said the investment is an indication of Carnival’s confidence in what is ahead for the company and the people of Grand Bahama.
He said the company signed an agreement earlier this week to build two new dry docks at the Grand Bahama Shipyard.
“[They] should be operational on-site in 2024,” Donald said.
“These will be among the largest floating dry docks ever built and help ensure a brighter future for Grand Bahama, creating great jobs for Bahamians.”