REMARKS: Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas Bahamas Homeporting Inaugural Ceremony Prime Minister and Minister of Finance The Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis

Ladies and Gentlemen, Good afternoon!

Thank you to my Cabinet colleague, Minister D’Aguilar, for that very warm welcome.

It gives me great pleasure to join you here in Freeport Harbour to deliver part two of the welcome back to our nation’s longstanding partner Royal Caribbean International.

They are leading the return of cruising in the Americas. 

     The people of Grand Bahama have a deep appreciation for the significance of Royal Caribbean’s move to homeport in The Bahamas and to feature a full day on this beautiful island as one of the highlights of Adventure of the Seas’ 7-day itinerary. 

Grand Bahama’s proximity to the continental United States positions it as a popular destination for day away and weekend cruises from South Florida and as a port of call for longer Caribbean cruises. 

In 2019, Grand Bahama recorded 56,987 stop over visitor arrivals, and close to half a million in cruise visitor arrivals (416,287 cruise visitors, to be exact). 

In 2020, and as early as February, and I note, for the month of February alone, cruise visitors to Grand Bahama topped out at 69,708, an excellent performance in visitor arrival numbers.

Had Grand Bahama continued on that trajectory, we could only imagine what the cruise visitor arrival totals would have been by year end. 

The COVID-19 pandemic brought tourism activity and cruising to a halt.  

But, thankfully we are now returning to a sense of normalcy after many painful and difficult months.

In the wake and shadow of the pandemic, travel has taken on a new role. 

Following 15 months of anxiety, uncertainty, lockdown and restrictions, people across the world are eager to venture abroad, to new frontiers, not only for escape, but for rejuvenation. 

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The months leading up to this occasion were filled with dynamic discussions and negotiations. 

The arrangements negotiated to lay the foundation for Adventure of the Seas Day in Grand Bahama were mutually agreed to the parties involved.

This includes, most importantly, the many industry stakeholders on Grand Bahama.

     The aim of the negotiations were three-fold.

First, to identify an exciting slate of options in tours, excursions, eco-Adventures and one-of-a-kind experiences that our cruise visitors could choose from.

Secondly, to choose a list of ground transportation providers and professional service providers, and third, to source a list of procurement vendors for the purchase of fuel for the vessel and for the purchase of seafood and vegetables for the plates of the 1,000 plus guests and 900 plus crew aboard the Adventure of the Seas weekly cruises.    

Royal Caribbean visitors arriving for their Day in Grand Bahama have the choice of some 15 existing tours, excursions and attraction visits that have been specifically curated just for them. 

Guests also have the option of scenic island tours led by the many BahamaHost certified taxi drivers who specialize in guest tours. 

For the cruise visitors’ Day in Grand Bahama, special consideration was given to expose our guests to the rich, dynamic culture of the island on display at Smith’s Point.

Smith’s Point is an authentic Fish Fry experience taken to a new level, with all day long music, dancing, culinary demonstrations, food and beverage tastings and history walking tours. 

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The Royal Caribbean homeporting project has been a long awaited opportunity for emerging entrepreneurs of Grand Bahama to bring to market new product and service offerings or to re-invest in their existing businesses.

 Many attended the workshop sponsored by Royal Caribbean in conjunction with the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce. 

And no doubt, many have and will avail themselves of capital from the fund established within the Small Business Development Centre from the $250K grant donated by Royal Caribbean for micro- and small- to medium-sized businesses on Grand Bahama, New Providence and the Berry Islands.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Grand Bahama is indeed a place for renewal, relaxation and rejuvenation.

Its beaches, vast stretches of ecological wonderlands and rich culture will prove to be a balm to the 13,000 of the 16,000 Adventure of the Seas passengers who are expected to embark in Grand Bahama between June and September of this year. 

The 13,000 Royal Caribbean cruise visitors who will come ashore in Grand Bahama over the next three months will each spend on various items 

That spend, coupled with other Royal Caribbean expenditure for goods and services in Grand Bahama, will amount to an energetic shot in the arm to the rebounding economy of Grand Bahama.

Royal Caribbean’s homeporting, a historic milestone, should go far in giving a boost to Grand Bahama’s economy. 

Ladies and Gentlemen:

As we mark this occasion, colleagues and I are keenly cognizant of the bigger picture of Grand Bahama’s economic outlook. 

I will much more to say about the rebound of Grand Bahama when up wrap-up the debate on the 2021/2022 National Budget.

This will include a major announcement for Grand Bahama.

Grand Bahama is set for major investments in infrastructure, including a brand-new international airport, a cruise port and cornerstone luxury resort, the Lucayan Grand. 

In the height of Covid, Grand Bahama’s economy was sustained by the tourism niche markets of diving, fishing, boating/yachting and romance. 

Moving forward, the Ministry of Tourism will bring even more heightened focus to these tourism markets.

Tourism will also bring greater focus on Grand Bahama to ecotourism, religious tourism and the groups market, as well as the general travel consumers seek exciting 2-3 day and weekend escapes.

The overall health of our nation’s economy is contingent on the success of Grand Bahama’s fortunes.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

We are appreciative of our nation’s 50-year partnership with Royal Caribbean, who, in returning to sailing, has moved to increase its relationship with The Bahamas. 

To help to restore our economy and a greater sense of normalcy, I encourage Grand Bahamians to be vaccinated.

Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for your kind attention. 

May God bless this new venture and may God the people of Grand Bahama.

Grand Bahama is coming back!

The Bahamas is coming back!

Good afternoon!