Carnival Cruise Line signed a final agreement to build a private cruise destination on Grand Bahama Island that it said will eventually host 1 million cruise passengers a year.

The long-anticipated agreement with the government of the Bahamas will give Carnival a major new destination for a dozen or more CCL ships that homeport in Florida and various East Coast cities.

It is also the latest in a series of destination expansions or upgrades in the Bahamas.

"Private islands are the new, hot thing now," said Vicky Garcia, COO and co-owner of Cruise Planners of Coral Springs, Fla. She added that cruise lines are investing more in these projects than in the past.

Carnival will finance and operate the as-yet-unnamed destination on a secluded beach area on the eastern end of the island. Grand Bahamas' major city is Freeport, which is on the island's western end.

Other Carnival Corp. brands, such as Princess Cruises and Holland America Line, have long operated private islands in the Bahamas, as have competitors such as Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International.

Carnival did not offer a timetable for the completion of its project but said the new resort will be "the largest purpose-built cruise facility ever constructed in the Bahamas."

Features will include a 1-mile stretch of beach; food, beverage and shopping outlets; a wide array of water-based amenities; and other recreational facilities. The port will also feature a pier capable of accommodating two of Carnival's largest cruise ships simultaneously.

Carnival did not put a price tag on the project but said it would be a "multimillion-dollar project" that will provide significant economic and employment benefits for the Bahamas.

Carnival's development is the second major destination to be approved in the past few years. MSC Cruises has said it plans to spend about $200 million to develop a private island near Bimini with an amphitheater, six beaches, a pier and more.

Royal Caribbean International also recently announced that it will build a pier and upgrade its island at Coco Cay.

Roger Blum, principal at Cruise & Port Advisors, Inc., a Miami Beach consulting firm, said the projects are all geographically close to Florida, so they're very convenient for cruises departing from the east coast of Florida and elsewhere on the U.S. East Coast.

"The other common element is that for many years, cruise lines have said their best rated ports are the ones where they control the experience," Blum said. "Cruise lines can ensure guests have a great experience at these destinations, which will increase demand for these cruises."

Some Bahamians have expressed concerns that the new destination is remote from Freeport and won't provide many jobs or opportunities for vendors.

Blum said Carnival is unlikely to call at both Freeport and its new cruise destination, but he added that Nassau could see more visits if an expanded number of itineraries that include the new destination also go to Nassau.

The site's proximity to Florida gives Carnival more flexibility with short cruises, and could also allow for more fuel-saving itineraries.

At a signing ceremony, Carnival Corp. president and CEO Arnold Donald said, "When Ted Arison, the founder of Carnival and the modern-day cruise industry, embarked on his first cruise, it was to the Bahamas. From that day until now, the Bahamas continues to be one of the most strategic and important destinations for our company."

The project is subject to a detailed public discussion process, environmental studies and permitting.

Comments

From Our Partners


From Our Partners

ALG Vacations®: A Year in Review
ALG Vacations®: A Year in Review
Register Now
Radisson Hotel Group
Radisson Hotel Group
Read More
True Luxury Returns to the River: Introducing Riverside Luxury Cruises
True Luxury Returns to the River: Introducing Riverside Luxury Cruises
Register Now

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI