After several setbacks, the Bahamas is making a big comeback. Carnival Cruise Lines is breaking ground on a new ship terminal, positioning the island nation for a tourism comeback.
The new cruise ship port is being built on the southern part of the island, about 20 miles east of Freeport. The 369-acre port will be able to hold two large cruise ships simultaneously and will house Bahamian-operated stores, as well as a nature reserve and indoor water feature. The name of the port has not yet been announced.
“Grand Bahamians have withstood life-changing challenges, particularly in recent years,” says vice chairman of the Grand Bahama Port Authority, Sarah St. George. She describes the project as “transformational in the true sense of the word.”
Carnival Corporation — owners of Carnival Cruise Lines — first inked the new port deal with the Government of the Bahamas back in 2017, but almost immediately hit snags. In 2019, category five storm, Hurricane Dorian, hit the island and caused widespread damage. The next year, the cruise industry took a massive hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, however, plans are back on track.
“With the start of this Carnival project, Grand Bahama is now on the better side of reaching its true economic potential,” said the honorable Philip Davis, Prime Minister of The Bahamas. “This investment will provide much needed jobs but will also signal new hope for the island’s recovery.”
Carnival’s Bahamas Expansion
Carnival Cruise Lines is currently the top visitor to the Bahamas. Its ships make numerous stops in Nassau, and the cruise line operates the private islands of Half Moon Cay and Princess Cays. Partnering with the Bahamian government solidifies Carnival’s commitment to expansion on the island. Carnival plans to have its ships Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration make stops at the new cruise port, starting in late 2024.
“Our guests already love the Bahamas,” said president of Carnival Cruise Line Christine Duffy, “and we are certain this new project will give them even more reasons to want to visit.”
Cruise Industry Bounces Back
The COVID-19 pandemic hit the cruise industry hard, shutting it down completely. Carnival Cruise Lines was the first cruise line to restart its operations, sailing with a select number of ships at limited capacity beginning in July 2021. The final ship in the company’s fleet set sail from Seattle in May 2022. Other major cruise lines, including Norwegian, Celebrity, Disney, and Holland America, are sailing in some capacity and have plans for a full re-entry into the cruise industry.