REMARKS: Royal Caribbean Inaugural Ceremony – 12 June 2021

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Good afternoon and thank you to Director General Joy Jibrilu for the warm introduction. 

It is with tremendous pride that I formally welcome back to The Bahamas our longtime cruise partner, Royal Caribbean International. 

It has been a long and challenging period year for our country and for the entire world including, the global tourism industry and the cruising sector.

Cruising is an essential economic driver for our small country. 

In 2019, we welcomed a record-breaking 5.4 million visitors arriving by cruise. 

The shutdown of the cruise industry contributed to a significant reduction in our tourism business. 

We are grateful to have Adventure of the Seashomeport in Nassau and visit additional islands in The Bahamas over the seven night itinerary.

This includes visits to Grand Bahama Island, and Perfect Day at Coco Cay, Royal Caribbean’s private Bahamas destination that employs a good number of Bahamians. 

This means that even more Bahamians across our islands can get back to work as our tourism sector continues its recovery.

Royal Caribbean’s decision to homeport Adventure of the Seas in Nassau is in line with the robust investment they have made in our destination over many years.  

As Royal Caribbean made plans to resume sailing, its executives engaged in numerous conversations with Bahamas tourism officials and key industry stakeholders. 

A highlight of the Bahamas-Royal Caribbean dialogue has been the proposition of making Nassau a homeport and potential gateway to the Caribbean.

This proposition has the potential to make a significant economic impact on our nation, though there is still much to be done to realize this potential. 

Each year, Royal Caribbean’s ships bring some two million passengers to The Islands of The Bahamas. 

Perfect Day at Coco Cay is Royal Caribbean’s flagship vacation paradise established in The Berry Islands. 

The cruise line is also the main principal in the acquisition and future development of the Grand Lucayan and affiliate investments. 

Royal Caribbean’s plans for a beach break destination on Paradise Island, namely, Royal Beach Club, includes a $50m investment that will generate an extra $26 million per year in visitor spending. 

The company’s outlook for its investments in The Bahamas is quite ambitious.  

Ladies and Gentlemen: 

Homeporting cruise passengers will fly into Nassau to embark, spend time onshore, and at the conclusion of the cruise come back to disembark to fly back home.  

The spin off from this movement of guests may result in more hotel room nights. 

The weekly movement of guests in and out of Nassau will require additional airlift, the use of local ground transportation services and many other professional services.

The Adventure of the Seas itinerary will afford enterprising Bahamians the opportunity to avail themselves of the cruise line’s demand for: provisions, services, tour excursions, attractions, and authentic, memorable one-of-a-kind guest experiences. 

Royal Caribbean’s proposed developments and plans for increased passengers will result in business expansion for a wide array of tourism stakeholders.

These stakeholders include: downtown and other merchants, straw vendors, businesses at Arawak Cay and Junkanoo Beach in Nassau, hair braiders, entrepreneurs in the creative economy and other small business people. 

The stakeholders also include tourism service providers in Grand Bahama and the Berry Islands. 

I am pleased that approximately 620 local entrepreneurs in New Providence and Grand Bahama have attended workshops sponsored by Royal Caribbean and the Chambers of Commerce to learn about business opportunities generated by the introduction of Bahamas-based cruises. 

Royal Caribbean Group has also provided a $250K donation to the Small Business Development Centre to establish a fund that will provide start-up capital to micro- small- and medium-size businesses in Grand Bahama, Berry Islands and New Providence. 

Ladies and Gentlemen:

One of the challenges for us as a heavily tourism dependent country has been the question of how to better boost the benefits of cruising, including turning cruise guests into stopover visitors.  

This Royal Caribbean arrangement offers the best of both worlds: a cruise guest who adds on a hotel stay of one to two nights.  

The Bahamas is a region of islands located in a cruising playground of the most beautiful waters on the planet. 

Royal Caribbean’s pioneering Bahamas-based cruises will lead the way for the coming on stream of more such cruises, which may strengthen the local economies of our Family Island communities. 

Ladies and Gentlemen:

With vaccine distribution in active progress in The Bahamas and abroad, major hotel re-openings, and now the exciting return of cruising in The Bahamas, there is steadfast optimism that our country will once again achieve record-breaking tourism levels. 

Today, we say welcome and bon voyage to Adventure of the Seas as it embarks on this particular journey and on a potential new era in cruising.

We have much more work to do together.

Today, is a good and wonderful start.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Thank you and good afternoon!