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$52m Bahamas Boost From Single Cruise Line

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Michael Maura

• MSC to bring 350k extra passengers on 156% call rise

• Port chief eyes ‘huge impact’ in 2022 as RCCL expands

• Winning bidders for new retail spaces unveiled today

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

A 156 percent increase in Nassau calls by just one cruise line has the potential to generate a $52m-plus boost for the Bahamian economy in 2022, Nassau Cruise Port’s top executive revealed yesterday 

Michael Maura told Tribune Business that Mediterranean Shipping Company’s (MSC) plans to expand its Nassau calls by from 45 in 2019 to 115 in 2022 - an increase of 70 - will bring an additional 350,000 passengers to the Bahamian capital based on all vessels carrying 5,000 persons.

Using Ministry of Tourism data suggesting that cruise passengers spend $100 per person in Nassau, he said MSC’s extra arrivals alone would generate a $35m increase in visitor spending injected into the local economy for the benefit of businesses/employees that rely on the sector for their livelihoods.

And, should Nassau Cruise Port succeed in increasing per capita cruise passenger spending by an extra $50 per head via its $250m Prince George Wharf transformation, Mr Maura added that the total outlay by MSC’s 350,000 additional passengers could hit $52.5m.

Describing this as a “huge impact”, the Nassau Cruise Port chief said MSC is not along in increasing its Nassau calls beyond pre-COVID levels. He disclosed that Royal Caribbean has 451 calls “on the books” for 2022, representing a 17.4 percent rise on the 384 arrivals that Nassau saw in 2019 prior to the pandemic.

Employing the same formula employed by Mr Maura with MSC, this would result in an extra 335,000 passengers and an additional $33.5m-$50.25m spending in The Bahamas. “MSC did 45 calls with us in 2019, and in 2022 we have them on the books for 115 calls. That’s the most significant increase,” Mr Maura told this newspaper.

“Another big increase we have is with Royal Caribbean. Royal Caribbean in 2019 did 384 port calls with us, and then in 2022 we have them on the books for 451. It’s huge. It’s a huge impact given that we’ve got 70 additional calls from MSC and you consider that, in 2022, their ships could be back to having 5,000 passengers on board.

“Seventy calls multiplied by 5,000, that’s 350,000 passengers and new visitors. The Ministry of Tourism has historically advised that Nassau enjoyed $100 in per passenger spending. We’re working very hard to improve and expand our port offering at the Nassau Cruise Port by the investments we’re making in food and beverage, retail and tourism experiences,” he continued.

“If we take the $100 spending figure given, that’s an extra $35m, and if we get a 50 percent increase in passenger spending because of thew new investments happening on Nassau’s waterfront, and per head spending goes from $100 to $150, just with the MSC passengers alone you will see an additional $50m-plus spend into the local economy. That’s a significant deal; a big deal.”

Mr Maura said total cruise bookings for Nassau in 2022 were already 11.1 percent higher than for 2019, the last full year pre-COVID. “In 2019 we had a total of 1,206 calls, and in 2022 we have on the books right now 1,340 calls,” he added.

And Mr Maura said the port was expecting more than the 50 calls suggested by Dr Hubert Minnis for this September. “It will be more than that. We have had 29 ships so far. Given that we have had 29 ships, and are half-way through the month, it will be closer to 60,” he said.

“I think from a Bay Street commercial perspective it’s improved. There’s definitely a positive trend. It’s not enough yet.... We see tourists walking downtown, we tourists in stores. We have a ways to go to get back to pre-pandemic, but passenger volumes are up and we are seeing more ships.”

Mr Maura said cruise ship calls on Nassau since June 2021 had come from just three lines - Royal Caribbean, Carnival and MSC. Disney and Norwegian Cruise Line will return next month, while Virgin Voyages will arrive in November.

Turning to Prince George Wharf’s ongoing redevelopment, the Nassau Cruise Port chief said it will reveal today to all bidders who has succeeded in securing the six new retail spaces that will be made available at the new facility.

And those who submitted proposals for the five new food and beverage sites will also be informed whether they have been selected “in the coming weeks”. Open tender/bidding processes were involved, with retail bidders required to participate in a Request for Concept and food and beverage contenders in a Request for Proposal (RFP).

While not revealing the number of bidders or their identities, Mr Maura added that Prince George Wharf’s 50 “legacy tenants” in the areas of retail, food and beverage will return to the cruise port once the space assigned for them has been completed.

“One area we’re really interested in moving forward with is identifying new and additional authentic Bahamian products, so we will be reaching out to the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) to get an updated inventory of local artisans and small manufacturers that can produce items very unique to The Bahamas that can be featured and sold in our new commercial space,” he explained.

“We would encourage local manufacturers and artisans to send us e-mailed pictures of their products to info@nassaucruiseport.com. We want to get started with looking at these new ideas and products that can be sold through Bahamian merchants that have successfully acquired those retail spaces at Nassau Cruise Port.

“We have the 50 legacy tenants with a combination of retail, food and beverage merchants. Some of them are currently operating temporarily from Rawson Square. Once we complete their retail space, they’ll leave Rawson Square and move into the new retail or food and beverage space in Nassau Cruise Port that is called the Marketplace.”

Mr Maura said the difference between the six new retail spaces and those for the previous tenants is size. The latter will receive spaces measuring between 10 feet and 15 feet, or 150 square feet in total, while the new six retail spots will be between 450 square feet and 700 square feet.

“They are for operators that have greater production or distribution capacity because the square footage is higher, and the production network to keep the products on display and not run out of stock,” Mr Maura added. “The expectation is that the five beverage outlets are very unique. It’s not fast food franchises. It’s something special.”

Nassau Cruise Port is also “very comfortable and confident” that its marine works will be completed by early December 2021, with its north-eastern berth - berth six - sufficiently expanded to accommodate the largest cruise ship class in existence, the Oasis ships. Six cruise ships will be in port by then.

“Our upland works are moving ahead,” Mr Maura said, with the new cruise arrivals terminal due to break ground next month. That building will house Nassau Cruise Port staff, Customs, Immigration and Port Department personnel, and a doctor’s office and space for medical examination.

Construction of the cruise port’s Junkanoo museum and cultural experience will also begin next month, with the aim of completing this facility and the arrivals terminal at the same time. Dredging is now complete with the associated fill transported to the project’s western side to finish the seabed reclamation that will support the amphitheatre, western marina and new retail and food and beverage options.

Comments

Clamshell 2 months, 2 weeks ago

This story is twice as long as The Tribune’s report on the final election results and change of government. SMH.

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concerned799 2 months, 2 weeks ago

If more cruise ships and bigger cruise ships was in fact the path to riches why didn't the Bahamas become massively richer since it dredged Nassau harbour circa 2006 to allow for mega cruise ships? Instead it is $10 Billion dollars in debt, so as a matter of fact the Bahamas is much POORER for getting deeper in with the cruise industry. When will people wake up that cruise ships are in fact a detriment as it moves money and power to the hands of the cruise ships and away from a land based hotel tourism industry and thus also the Bahamas?

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realitycheck242 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Now that there is a change in government......will the church hill building still be demolished? Will there still be a IPO in the Nassau cruise port ???

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Clamshell 2 months, 2 weeks ago

This story, in calculating in-port spending, assumes that all 5,000 passengers will disembark; farther down, there’s a story that says only 20% disembark. Uh … hello, editors? Read your own paper much?

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Soapstop 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Think about it a different way. 350,000 Cruise ship tourists spend the same amount as 12,000 land based tourists, based on the Ministry of Tourism’s own data. Same revenue, better chance of repeat business. Now let’s consider the environmental cost of 350,000 cruise ship tourists, which means 70 cruise ships with their exhaust and effluent. Which do you think costs the Bahamas more in infrastructure costs, environmental damage? Why must we pander to a black hole tourism model?

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concerned799 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Also consider the worldwide benefits to an end to the cruise industry, just huge. And they burn the nastiest fuel bunker C and dump in the seas.

End their permits/get back to land based tourism. Not rocket science.

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Proguing 2 months, 2 weeks ago

"Mediterranean Shipping Company’s (MSC) plans to expand its Nassau calls by from 45 in 2019 to 115 in 2022" It would be interesting to know the reason. Can the Tribune ask MSC or Mr. Maura?

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TalRussell 2 months, 2 weeks ago

The sailing closer into junks of rocks territory cruise companies — now mixed Moody's even harsher money crunch predictions ahead, — Curious, what exactly is trying his best, Nassau Cruise Port's (NCP) survival strategy and if NCP's top executive Comrade Michael — Nervously awaits Monday's thru Friday's trading over at (BISX) — Yes?

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truetruebahamian 2 months, 2 weeks ago

The cruise ships have not yet tangibly benefitted the properties or businesses in Nassau. We are ostensibly still closed and unable to afford staffing or make enough to cover tax demands.

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