By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Bird Cay in the Berry Islands is among the locations assessed by Carnival Cruise Lines for its own port/private island in the Bahamas, Tribune Business was told yesterday.
But Khaalis Rolle, minister of state for investments, said the cruise giant and the Government were continuing to explore all potential location options for such a facility, with “nothing set in stone”.
Responding after Tribune Business was tipped that Bird Cay was one likely location, Mr Rolle told Tribune Business: “It’s a known act they were looking at Bird Cay....
“We’re exploring all options for port development. Nothing has been set in stone or finalised.”
Mr Rolle, though, denied suggestions several sources made to Tribune Business, namely that the Government was pushing for Carnival to locate any cruise port in North Andros.
The 250-acre Bird Cay, located just north of Chub Cay, has been up for sale since summer 2013, and remains on the market to this day.
John Christie, realtor at H. G. Christie, confirmed that the firm continued to list Bird Cay, adding that Carnival had “no interest in it right now as far as I know”.
“They’ve been looking at a lot of islands,” he told Tribune Business, declining to say any more in relation to Carnival.
However, he did reveal that the asking price for Bird Cay had dropped to $8.9 million, down from the $11.9 million listed on its website.
Mr Christie said the island, along with others nearby, had been impacted by the Government’s decision to impose a ‘no take zone’ in an area known as the ‘fishing capital’ of the Bahamas.
Bird Cay is in the South Berry Island Marine Reserve, and Mr Christie said the impact was exacerbated by the ‘no take’ restriction being imposed without warning.
Bird Cay was developed in the 1940s into a private island retreat by Englishman Francis Francis, heir to the Standard Oil fortune.
While it already has Half Moon Cay and Princess Cay as private Bahamian islands for some of its cruise brands, Carnival is eager to develop a similar retreat for passengers on liners bearing its name.
Arnold Donald, its chief executive, told Tribune Business recently that the $3.6 billion Miami-based cruise operator was looking at a number of possible development opportunities in the Bahamas, although such plans were still at an early stage.
“We are looking at a number of different possible developments They are at an early stage and we are not at a point where we can expose any real details. I’m very pleased with our legacy and our history here, and we look to expand that. We are working very closely with the Government to do that,” said Mr Donald.
He added: “I don’t think it’s a big secret that we have been looking to develop a property here ourselves for a number of years. We are still in pursuit of that.
“We have made investments here and will continue to make investments. We have Half Moon Cay and we have Princess Cay. We like those developments; they are a great experience for our guests as part of the Bahamas’ experience, and not the only Bahamas experience for our guests.
“We look to develop one or two additional opportunities like that for our guests, which will bring jobs and economic multipliers for the Bahamas.”