By DANA SMITH
THE Carnival Cruise Lines' Sensation ship will no longer overnight in Nassau over the next year leaving disgruntled downtown store owners with what they call "a big problem".
The Ministry of Tourism confirmed the reports yesterday in a press release and stated the cruise line made the decision.
"Carnival Cruise Lines, a major contributor to the ascension of the port of Nassau as the largest cruise port in our region and the port in which cruise ships spend the longest time, has announced that its Sensation will no longer overnight in Nassau over the next year," the Ministry said.
The popular cruise docks in Nassau every week, bringing with it thousands of tourists willing to spend their money.
It spends the night before departing the following morning, allowing visitors ample time to visit various stores, restaurants, clubs, and bars.
One downtown club owner said the decision to no long overnight will cause combined "thousands of dollars in losses" to downtown business owners.
"Think about how many taxi drivers take people around from the ships, how many crew members eat from restaurants. This affects our basic business," he said.
He further claimed this could even pose a problem to business on Paradise Island as the Atlantis hotel is "packed" on nights when the cruise is in town.
"It's not to be taken lightly," he said. "It's a big problem."
However the Ministry said the cruise line made the decision not to overnight because passengers rarely leave the ship after hours, when most stores are closed.
"In the instance of the Sensation's shortened stays, Carnival has indicated that the decision to discontinue overnight stays is largely a response to passenger feedback, with very few passengers leaving the ship during evening hours. It should also be noted that the vast majority of shops and other businesses are closed during those evening hours," it said.
The Ministry added cruise arrivals into the country are "overwhelmingly positive" and the Nassau port "remains very popular" with cruise passengers.
"While Carnival's Sensation will no longer overnight in Nassau, it is important to note that the move in no way compromises the greatly beneficial overnighting agreement between the cruise line and The Bahamas.
"Carnival still meets and surpasses the requirements of the Cruise Ships Overnighting Incentives Act, which offers incentives to cruise lines to bring a minimum of 350,000 passengers to Nassau that stay in port a minimum of 13 hours. In total, Carnival ships brought more than one million passengers to Nassau for the fiscal year."
The Tourism Ministry noted Nassau received more than three million visitors for the first time, last year, and the country is on track to attain a five per cent growth rate, this year.