|Cruise ships add valuable business to downtown Nassau
By Clarence Rolle, MOT
Sep 30, 2010 - 10:19:18 AM
Nassau, Bahamas - Downtown businesses are reporting healthy business from cruise ships after extensive dredging and refurbishment of Nassau Harbour.
The world’s largest cruise ship, the Oasis of the Seas, is among the selection of cruise vessels that call at Prince George Dock in Nassau. The historic ship calls at Nassau two Sundays each month. Meanwhile, another mega cruise ship, the Norwegian Epic, has been calling on Fridays. Each vessel has contributed handsomely to revenues.
“The Bahamas was amongst many countries which were seeking to have these ships call on their ports,” said Carla Stuart, director of Cruise Development in the Ministry of Tourism & Aviation. “By the end of December, the Oasis would have made 34 visits and brought at least 183,600 passengers for the year 2010. Head tax to be derived is estimated at $2.7 million while spend from the passengers of this vessel is estimated at $12 million. The ship will continue to call every other week.”
Downtown businesses have taken notice of the mega ships and their passengers.
Thelma Miller of Vintage Island Handicraft, a Festival Place souvenir store, pointed out that the Oasis’ calls have been good for business on Sundays, which would otherwise be slow. Meanwhile, Senor Frog’s has also been happy with the business that the Oasis brings.
“It does make a difference when the Oasis comes in,” said Chester Williamson, manager of Senor Frog’s. “I think the second week it came in with 3,000 people on board.”
Mr. Williamson said cruise business figures prominently into the restaurant’s business although they get some groups from hotels as well. He notices many families on Mondays when the Disney cruise ship makes its call, and on Wednesdays, he has noted that Norwegian ships especially encourage passengers to do shore activities. The most significant cruise business comes on days like Tuesday and Saturday when ships overnight. Although business ends early on Sunday’s the Oasis makes a definite impact, he said.
Ms. Stuart pointed out that the Sunday impact will be greater at the end of the year, when a new Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL) vessel is scheduled to call at Nassau.
“In December, we will welcome the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas- the sister ship to the Oasis,” Ms. Stuart said. “This ship will also call every other week on Sundays. After December, and with the combined trips of the Oasis and Allure, we will have an Oasis class vessel in port every Sunday. These estimates do not include calls made by the Freedom of the Seas with a capacity of 3634 double occupancy and is now able to call on Nassau during inclement weather at Coco Cay (RCCL’s private island).
Meanwhile, the mega ships continue to bring thousands of passengers whose departure taxes alone are estimated to pay for the Nassau Harbour Improvement Project in three to five years. By the end of the year, the Epic, which began calls to Nassau in July, would have brought 36,900 passengers and would have contributed$ 553,500 in head tax. The passenger spend from Jul y to the end of the year is estimated at $2.4 million.
In November 2011, the Epic is expected to move from a bi-monthly schedule to a weekly schedule. The head tax collections from this vessel in 2012 are estimated at $3 million with the passenger spend at $13 million dollars.
In the first quarter of 2011, Nassau will welcome Disney’s new mega ship - the Disney Dream. This ship will have a capacity of 4000 passengers and will replace the Disney Wonder with a capacity of 2600 passengers.