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Nassau welcomes NCL’s latest superliner

Following the dredging of the Nassau harbour, the port is now fit to receive some of the world's largest cruise superliners, including Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Epic. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010

Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest and biggest cruise ship, which can carry up to 4,100 passengers, has made its first call into Nassau Harbour as part of its inaugural Caribbean tour.

At 155,873 tonnes, the Norwegian Epic is just 50,000 tonnes smaller than the world’s largest cruise liner the Oasis of the Seas, which is also a frequent visitor to Nassau. The new ship has 20 bars and restaurants, an aqua park with the only tube slide at sea, and a 33-foot high rock climbing wall, as well as the first rappelling wall on a cruise ship. It also boasts 60 suites and villas on two private decks.

Addressing the ship’s captain Trygve Vorren, and chairman of the Florida and Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Kevin Sheehan, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said: “NCL, I congratulate you on your newest, state-of-the-art addition to the cruise industry. Be assured of my government’s continued commitment to the business of tourism and to a mutually beneficial relationship with yourselves.”

In welcoming the Epic, Prime Minister Ingraham also spoke of the expected economic benefit that the new ship would bring, saying: “Increased passengers translate into increased land and sea excursions and tours, which directly impact the lives of Bahamian entrepreneurs. Tour operators, taxi drivers, vendors and Bay Street merchants are being encouraged and supported in their efforts to offer first class services, memorable experiences and top quality goods.”

The liner departed from its home port of Miami in July 2010. It will stop in Nassau fortnightly, as it alternates Eastern and Western Caribbean routes throughout the year. Aside from Nassau, the eastern route includes St Thomas and St Maarten, while its western itinerary includes stops at Cozumel, Costa Maya and Roatan, Honduras.

“We are thrilled to have Norwegian Epic set sail on its first Caribbean voyage,” says Sheehan. “Reviews have been overwhelmingly positive so far, and we are looking forward to a really strong and successful inaugural season.”

The Bahamas welcomes almost three million cruise ship passengers each year and the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation estimates that each passenger spends around $100 in the country. In 2009, NCL recorded a total yearly passenger count of 386,484 compared to 153,266 in 2007. The cruise line owns Great Stirrup Cay in the Berry Islands and also includes Grand Bahama on its itineraries.

The Marina Operators of The Bahamas (MOB) is forging initiatives to bolster the marina and boating tourism business in the nation. Perfectly suited for this industry, The Bahamas must actively pursue opportunities, it says.

Preliminary statistics released by the Bahamas Hotel Association and the Ministry of Tourism show an uptick in visitor arrivals for the early part of the low season.

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