BY DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
Carnival expects to commence dredging in East Grand Bahama for its mega cruise port in the next 60 to 90 days, a Carnival Corporation executive told hundreds of residents gathered at the Grand Lucayan Resort on Thursday evening.
David Candib, vice president of Global Ports & Destinations Development, said they are looking to dredge about 12 meters and have identified some of the coral for transplanting and relocation at donor sites in Grand Bahama.
The $200m port will be the largest cruise terminal built by Carnival. It would be able to accommodate two of Carnival’s largest ships simultaneously. The cruise line broke ground on over 300 acres of land at Sharp Rock on May 12.
During the introductory session and project overview held in the hotel’s convention centre, residents were given an update on the project and told that opportunities would be available, particularly for Bahamians interested in the construction and operating retail, food & beverage, restaurant businesses and shore excursions at the port.
Mr Candib was extremely happy with the turnout.
"We are incredibly pleased,” he said. “Today is very exciting for us. This is very important for us because the idea is that this new cruise port destination creates a gateway to GB."
The first component of the project will focus on maritime construction, which includes dredging and pier construction work.
Mr Candib said Carnival has identified the right location for the pier.
“We have identified some coral to be transplanted and relocated to a donor site in the east and west. That is taking place now with experts who understand that.”
He said Carnival knows what it is doing. “We have done that as the developers in the past and have been successful at it. We are working closely with the environmental agencies and government," he said.
Mr Candib said they expect to start dredging by September and October.
“We are now working with a variety of large international dredge contractors with large equipment to dredge to allow the ships to come in and dock,” he said.
The dredging is expected to be completed by early January.
Carnival will use the material dredged from the sea to elevate the land some 14ft, which was determined according to the storm surge experienced in the area during Hurricane Dorian.
By May 2023, Mr Candib said they will begin to see buildings coming out of the ground. The port is projected to be completed in late 2024, he said.
Minister for Grand Bahama Ginger Moxey said the government is confident that the Carnival project will significantly contribute to the revitalisation of Grand Bahama’s economy as a result of the employment and entrepreneurial opportunities that will become available.
“The future transformation of EGB and the enhancement of GB’s tourism product with this world-class cruise facility will position GBI as one of the Carnival’s most sought-after destinations, offering cruises and unparalleled authentic Bahamian experiences,” she said.
Minister Moxey predicts that it would be “the envy of the Caribbean and a jewel in Carnival’s fun ship brand”.
She noted that Carnival’s continued confidence in the Bahamas is evidence of the longstanding partnership that spans 50 years, since the country’s independence in 1973.
Ms Moxey encouraged Bahamians to prepare and position themselves for the opportunity that will become available.
She said the introductory session and project overview is the first in a series of meetings hosted by Carnival Cruise Line and her ministry.
Ian Rolle, president of the Grand Bahama Port Authority, said: “These are some exciting times for GB. We have quite a number of projects that will transform the economic state of this island. I commend the Carnival team and Carnival Corporation for its commitment to GBI and the people of GB.”
The breakaway sessions on Friday were set to provide businesses with further details on those various areas of interest.