Michael Bayley, left, reviews plans for Bullock's Harbour Community Centre with MP Carlton Bowleg.
FIFTEEN years after Members of Parliament before him attempted to build a community centre to serve Great Harbour Cay and Bullock’s Harbour, the current MP for North Eleuthera and the Berry Islands Carlton Bowleg got the nod this week that the long-delayed dream will come true.
Royal Caribbean International president & CEO Michael Bayley delivered the news personally. The world’s largest cruise line will build the centre, equip it with kitchen, showers, oversized generator and ensure that it is built to withstand Category 5 hurricanes so that it can also serve as a shelter for the community.
“At last, our people will have a safe place to come,” said Mr Bowleg as he met recently with cruise line executives including Mr Bayley and Vice President of Government Relations for the Americas Russell Benford.
“This project started 15 years ago and now it will really materialise. Our people will have a safe place after being tested by a lot of strong hurricanes,” said Mr Bowleg. “Royal Caribbean has been part of the community with so many of our people working on Coco Cay and here you are, giving back. This is truly a gift coming from the people who care about the island.”
Local contractor Bradley Knowles Construction has been awarded the construction contract.
The announcement that Royal Caribbean would undertake to fund, expand and complete the community centre project came just two months before the cruise line is slated to open its transformation of that island destination, a highly-anticipated new attraction, a record-setting chill and thrill destination experience called “Perfect Day on Coco Cay.”
The $250 million investment will create a massive, vibrantly-coloured water park with America’s tallest water slide and the Caribbean’s largest fresh water wave pool. It will feature zip lining, a variety of dining options, dancing, bars and kiddie sections with full time recreation counsellors. There will also be areas of tranquility where the most energy required is dedicated to choosing whether to relax in a chaise lounge or lie on a beach towel in the sand.
“Our guests want experiences,” said Mr Bayley. “We can provide the best accommodations, brilliant dining options and fabulous entertainment onboard but our guests select destinations because they want to experience that port of call so experiences are very important to us because they are important to our guests. We believe that what we will be offering at Perfect Day at Coco Cay will be unmatched. We are very excited about it.”
With the island’s expansion which Royal Caribbean defines as its re-imagination, Mr Bayley said the cruise line was eager to hire hundreds of Bahamians, both for island and shipboard jobs. The cruise line has conducted numerous job fairs in recent months and hired more than 200, including some who have already qualified and shipped out for onboard positions. Royal Caribbean is working with the National Training Agency (NTA) and the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation to spread the word about the intensive hiring plan.