(10:37 a.m. EST) — A hospitality training program and the construction of a pier at CocoCay are among the improvements included in a multi-year agreement between cruise line Royal Caribbean International and The Bahamas to grow tourism in the island nation.
CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island in The Bahamas, will see a number of enhancements, from new amenities and spaces for Bahamian vendors and craftsmen to the construction of a pier, which will greatly improve docking at the port. (CocoCay is currently a tender port, making it difficult to call when the weather is poor.) The addition of a pier means the port will be able to accommodate the cruise line’s Oasis-class ships, the biggest cruise ships in the world.
During a phone call with the media this morning, Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, said CocoCay will remain open while undergoing construction but added that passenger experience would not be affected. He also noted that some “minor redeployment” will be necessary but didn’t elaborate.
Bayley called the renovations a “multiphase project” and alluded to the caliber of amenities that will eventually be available to visitors: “experiences like you find on Oasis Class. Expect CocoCay to deliver those types of experiences.”
Construction will be complete in 2019, with some phases finished as early as next year.
The agreement also outlines a significant investment from Royal Caribbean to develop a training program intended to build and recruit the talents of Bahamian nationals, and to rapidly increase their employment with the cruise line over the next five years. According to the news release, students of the program will receive onsite guidance and training from shipboard professionals, as well as a classroom experience.
Bayley and Perry Christie, Prime Minister of The Bahamas, attended a recent signing ceremony to make the agreement official.
“Tourism is an important engine of growth for the economy of destinations in the Caribbean and The Bahamas, and we are excited to bring more visitors on our newest and most innovative ships to this popular vacation spot,” Bayley said at the ceremony. “Our commitment to The Bahamas is multifold. It is our responsibility to contribute to the country’s economic diversity, to its employment base and the training of Bahamian youth as well as the protection of the environment. We are excited about the continued growth of tourism in The Bahamas, and look forward to doing our part to keep that growth and progress moving along in the years to come.”
Itineraries for Symphony of the Seas — Royal Caribbean’s latest cruise ship, debuting in spring 2018 — were announced today, and include Nassau, Bahamas, on fall sailings from Miami.
“Royal Caribbean has been a longstanding partner of the islands of The Bahamas, and their plans to significantly increase tourism to our country as well as to develop the talent of our youth and expand employment opportunities for Bahamians is commendable,” Christie said.
Royal Caribbean currently brings 1.7 million passengers a year to The Bahamas, with plans to expand that number over the next 10 years as they add capacity in the region. Bahamian destinations already serve as ports of call for 13 of Royal Caribbean’s ships.
Royal Caribbean and The Bahamas share joint ownership of the Grand Bahamas shipyard in Freeport, where maintenance and refurbishment of Royal’s ships take place.
- Previously in Cruise Critic –By Brittany Chrusciel, Associate Editor March 8, 2017
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