Thursday, March 9, 2017
Thursday, March 9, 2017
Pictured: Royal Caribbean Cruises president and CEO Michael Bayley, right, signs the Heads of Agreement, as deputy director of legal affairs in the AG’s Office Danya Wallace looks on. Standing is Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe. (BIS Photo/Peter Ramsay)
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Perry Christie announced, 7 March, 2017, that Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd –>, with the approval of the Bahamas government, is poised to expand operations by constructing a “world-class” cruise port at Coco Cay, which is part of the Berry Islands.
“Royal Caribbean Cruises had approached the government with the idea to construct a fixed pier at the cay to accommodate better and additional cruise stops to the cay,” Prime Minister Christie said, during a press conference held at the Office of the Prime Minister.
A Heads of Agreement was also signed at the end of the press conference.
“The installation of the fixed pier will allow for the additional safety of the cruise passengers and employees on the Cay where they will be able to have direct access to the Island instead of tendering boats,” he added.
“The present tendering system for moving passengers to the island is frequently subject to downtime during rough weather which causes the cancellation of ships calling at cay.”
With the addition of the fixed pier, Prime Minister Christie noted, the Cay will also be able to receive larger cruise ships and will accommodate Oasis-class ships, which carry up to 5,400 passengers.
“Royal Caribbean will also carry out an expansion of the services offered at the Cay by injecting a total of $150 million over a three-phase process, including the $40 million fixed-pier development, which will lead off the improvements that we are speaking of,” he stated. “The completion of the pier is planned for the winter of 2017 and will pave the way for additional improvements to the island.”
Prime Minister Christie pointed out that, to date, the company had invested some $235 million into the development of the cay.
The Phase II construction will be concentrated at the pier arrivals area and East Beach, which has already seen some improvements, he noted. The plans are to create an authentically Bahamian arrivals area that will offer additional accommodations for guest attractions, he added.
“There will be a new craft market place, shore excursion building, bike and equipment rentals building, transportation centre, suite guest building, a new active aquatic zone, additional food and beverage facilities and associated infrastructure and landscaping – and every one of those areas speaks to jobs for Bahamians.”
Phase III, Prime Minister Christie noted, is slated to have additional guest attractions including a rope course, zip line, water park, lagoon cabanas, pools and employee accommodations and facilities. Local musicians, entertainers, artists and other professions will also be engaged to help create the authentic Bahamian culture and feel of the island, he added.
The company will also enter into early discussions with the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) and the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) to establish a list of potential Bahamian suppliers of local farm produce and marine products, which could be used on the cay, he noted.
“The company will engage the services of qualified Bahamian tour operators and offer additional opportunities for Bahamians to operate and be employed in its expanded water sports activities,” Prime Minister Christie stated. “Financing will also be made available to assist Bahamians in fulfilling these roles.”
There are currently 140 Bahamians employed at the cay and it is anticipated that during the construction phases, an additional 30 Bahamians will be employed, Prime Minister Christie pointed out.
“Thereafter, the number of Bahamians employed on the cay is expected to increase to a total of approximately 210 persons,” he said.
In order to further enhance and encourage employment opportunities for Bahamians, the developer has also agreed to establish and operate a training academy in The Bahamas, to commence in 2017, he noted.
The Royal Caribbean Cruises training academy will provide Bahamians who aspire to a shipboard career with a unique opportunity to participate in innovative training and development, he added.
“The company will enter into discussions with the relevant government agencies, in addition to the University of The Bahamas, Bahamas Hotel Training College, Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute and the National Training Agency to establish the parameters of the institution, including identifying a suitable location and formulating a curriculum,” Prime Minister Christie said.
“The goal is to prepare qualified Bahamian students for careers at sea on board one of Royal Caribbean’s many cruise ships around the world and to provide them with valuable and marketable hospitality skills.”
“The company has also agreed to employ a minimum of 200 qualified graduates of the training academy annually.”
Prime Minister Christie noted that Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. is a multi-national corporation with 17 per cent global passenger market capture and 14 per cent of revenue market share of a $40 billion industry.
He pointed out that the company owns Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Pullmantur, Azamara Club Cruises and CDF Croisieres de France, as well as TUI Cruises through a 50% joint venture with the TUI Group, which is the world’s largest leisure tourism conglomerate.
“Together, these six brands operate a total of 43 ships on diverse itineraries around the world, calling on approximately 480 destinations on all seven continents,” Prime Minister said. “As such, I am pleased to invite the principals of Royal Caribbean Cruises, headed by its president and CEO, Michael Bayley, to execute these Heads of Agreement this afternoon.”