‘Not so fast’ on Royal Caribbean’s PI plans


Audrey Oswell


President and Managing Director

Atlantis, Paradise Island

EARLIER this week, the Government of The Bahamas announced that Royal Caribbean International’s (RCI) proposed beach club project on Paradise Island will be permitted to move forward pending approval of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Management Plan (EMP). I believe the green light is premature, with so many unanswered questions regarding the project’s environmental and economic impact still to be addressed.

Like many in our Paradise Island community, I was puzzled by the Government’s statements, including the suggestion that the Royal Caribbean groundbreaking would take place “almost immediately” despite the outstanding environmental review. I appreciate my subsequent communications with Prime Minister Philip Davis KC, who has assured me that all environmental due process will be followed.

What is needed now, before it is too late, is a heightened level of scrutiny and discourse. Too much is at stake to stay silent. It has not been confirmed that the Royal Caribbean project does not pose serious threats to our beautiful beaches, marine life and their habitats. If this residential land is overdeveloped, or the beaches and coastline altered in anyway, the Paradise Island coastline, Cable Beach, Saunders Beach and our economic livelihood stand to suffer. It is not surprising that with few opportunities throughout the review process for the voices of citizens and businesses to be heard, public awareness of these impacts has not kept up with the severity of these threats. In response to the first presentation by Royal Caribbean to the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection (DEPP), Atlantis raised over 50 questions mostly related to potential environmental threats. To date, we have received no response.

What are the questions that still need to be answered?

For the past 25 years, Atlantis has worked to protect the waters of The Bahamas, including the Paradise Island coastline. Protection of the ocean, marine life and their fragile habitats is at the core of who we are. Consistent with this focus and commitment, we have watched as closely as possible as the proposed Royal Caribbean project progressed. During this period, we have developed significant environmental and life-safety concerns about this proposed large-scale, high-volume beach club experience. Much of this land was previously used for private residences accessible only by boat.

Here are some of those concerns:

  • There are potentially devastating impacts to the Paradise Island coastline and the pristine beaches with any expansion of beach areas, overwater cabanas, seawalls, jetties or other structures. For example, we have identified and assessed the thriving coral reef at the north seabed and determined that potential impacts to the health of this reef must be carefully assessed and mitigated.

  • The impact of additional boat traffic in Nassau harbour to ferry guests, supplies, Royal Caribbean employees and other support service workers has not been adequately assessed. The increased volume of activity in Nassau harbour to support the beach club operations will potentially restrict further expansion of marinas, the re-establishment of seaplane service for Paradise Island, development opportunities on Paradise Island and in the blighted waterfront areas of downtown Nassau, as well as other commercial vessel activity. Noise from music, large volumes of people, jet skis and other amenities offered at the project site pose potential threats to neighbouring residential property owners and Atlantis.

  • The desalination and wastewater treatment plants required to service the project could potentially threaten the water source for all of Paradise Island. Odors, noise and the handling of discharge from such plants are also of particular concern. If Royal Caribbean intends for wastewater to be transferred via a pressurised line under the channel, there is strong risk associated with transmission line failures in Nassau harbour. The handling and processing of large volumes of solid waste, where access to the project site is only by boat, present unique challenges and risks.

  • Emergency services and evacuation plans that do not exist today would have to be developed, as large numbers of persons will be using the beach club facilities daily.

  • The proposed beach club project would ensure that thousands of Royal Caribbean visitors to Paradise Island will bypass our downtown, negatively impacting merchants, restaurants and other venues that rely on tourism.

  • And, finally, moving forward with the project would privatise Paradise Island’s last public beach, currently frequented and enjoyed by our community.

So, what can concerned citizens do?

We all must make our voices heard and insist that the Government put on the brakes and follow through on a serious examination of the impact this proposed project will have on our environment and businesses. Share your thoughts and insist on answers from the Ministry of The Environment, the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection and Royal Caribbean. We at Atlantis will be taking a more active role in encouraging dialogue and transparency.

Coastal development must be done with precision to avoid long-term adverse impact. A few months of true due diligence is critical to avoid decades of irreversible harm.


Maximilianotto 1 year, 1 month ago

FTX dried out, Albany dried out, RCI is the new source of cash for some cronies.Brookfield fortunately can afford to say what all those Bahamians think who don’t personally benefit. Time for next edition of Panama Papers


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