By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
CARNIVAL Cruise Lines’ latest ship Carnival is expected to pump more than $6 million into the Bahamian economy over the next six months, the Minister of Tourism believes.
Carnival Breeze, which is expected to call on Nassau every Friday for the next half year, is forecast to generate more than $4 million in cruise passenger spend and $700,000 in head taxes.
“Every time a cruise vessel lands here the impact is on the taxi drivers, the tour operator, the vendors generally, and, of course, the shops, so the impact will be enormous to this country,” said Obie Wilchcombe.
The Breeze is Carnival’s 24th - and largest - cruise ship, with cruises from the Port of Miami to Nassau, Ocho Rios, Grand Turk, Montego Bay, Key West, Falmouth, San Juan, St Thomas, St Maarten, and the Dominican Republic.
“Carnival has been a partner in our country for the past two decades; they have contributed significantly to us in building our country - particularly through the cruise industry,” said Mr Wilchcombe.
“The Ministry of Tourism has a comprehensive programme that we hope will transform everything we do, particularly here at the cruise port. We are deeply concerned about our product and improving our product to ensure that we deliver, to the entire world, the best product in the entire world.
“We want to make sure that we lift our standards to the highest level, whether it’s through Customs or Immigration, through those persons who work in the port generally, our taxi services, our vendors, and our shop owners, all must be a part of this new campaign that intends to deliver the Bahamas as a premier cruise destination in the world. We want to deliver quality, we want to get quality performance for quality service, and that’s what we’re working on right now.”
John Heald, Carnival Cruise Lines’ brand ambassador, said the Carnival Breeze would be adding to its calls on Nassau. “I’m sure you will see this ship many more times,” he said.
“We have the schedule set for the next six months, but I don’t think this will be the last time the Carnival Breeze comes here, as well as our regular ships which come to the Bahamas week in and week out.”
Mr Heald said that at full capacity, the ship could accommodate 4,600 cruise passengers.
“Another revenue stream is the crew. Every crew that comes here goes ashore, spends money in the restaurants, and shops. There are about 1,300 crew members, and probably 80 per cent will go ashore and spend money,” said Mr Heald.