By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
CARNIVAL Cruise Line has resumed regular calls to Grand Bahama, with the return of three vessels to Freeport in aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
The Carnival Pride called on Friday, October 11, with 2,400 passengers. The Elation called on Sunday, October 13, and the Freedom arrived yesterday.
According to a statement by Carnival, the cruise line expects to host 39 calls in Freeport, bringing more than 100,000 visitors to the island and providing significant impact to the Freeport economy.
For the full year, more than 400,000 guests will visit Grand Bahama on a Carnival cruise vacation aboard ten different ships sailing from nine US home ports, the company said.
“Carnival Cruise Line is proud to be such a big year-round supporter for cruise tourism to Freeport so we are very excited to provide our guests the opportunity to again visit this popular destination,” said Terry Thornton, Carnival’s senior vice-president of nautical and port operations.
“Cruise ship visits are important to the local economy and our shore excursion team has been working closely with local tour operators and has confirmed a variety of attractive onshore excursions for our guests.”
Carnival suspended all sailings to Grand Bahama in early September as a result of the storm and the devastation to the island.
After the storm, the government signed a heads of agreement with Carnival Corporation to construct a $100m cruise port in East Grand Bahama.
While giving remarks at the signing, Giora Israel, senior vice-president of Carnival Corporation, assured the government and Bahamians that Carnival would resume calls to the island after conducting and completing their assessment on the island.
“You will be happy to hear and the rest of the people that (the team) is here to make an assessment of when — it is not if – it is just when in a matter of a short period of time can the ships come back because that’s one of the things everybody wants, to bring the cruise ships back,” he said.
Senator Kwasi Thompson, minister of state for Grand Bahama, welcomed the return of the cruise line back to Grand Bahama after Hurricane Dorian.
“Carnival is an incredible partner for The Bahamas and Grand Bahama,” he said.
Carnival Ecstasy is currently undergoing an extensive 12-day dry dock at the Grand Bahama Shipyard - the first cruise ship to utilise the facility since Hurricane Dorian.
In addition to resuming sailing to Grand Bahama, Carnival’s relief efforts include a $2m pledge from Carnival Corporation and the Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation, as well as relief shipments delivered by Carnival Cruise Line ships and via a partnership with Tropical Shipping.
Carnival employees and guests have also donated well over $500,000 through online giving tools and collections on embarkation day and onboard.