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New port aims to keep ships in Nassau longer

Chairman of Global Ports Holding (GPH) Mehmet Kutman said on Friday evening the newly developed $300 million Nassau Cruise Port is now only 90 percent complete, with the final 10 percent being the year-round programming that will eventually entice cruise companies to keep their ships and passengers in Nassau longer.

Pointing to the opening night entertainment on the cruise port’s dedicated amphitheater stage, Kutman, who spoke with Guardian Business following the grand opening of the Nassau Cruise Port, said daily entertainment is needed to attract passengers off the ships and keep them engaged.

“… Things like that every night, so we attract the passengers off their ship and the ship stays longer,” he said.

“If you give them something nice where their passengers enjoy and are happy, they (cruise lines) will (stay).”

He explained that tourism officials from Antigua and other jurisdictions have already seen Nassau’s new cruise port and have begun conversations with GPH, which spearheaded the transformation of the Nassau Harbour.

Kutman said his company is a very good partner, running a very good team, and that people can see the results of that in Nassau Cruise Port.

Executives at Nassau Cruise Port Limited said they are preparing an entertainment schedule for the port and working with a company to ensure that there are productions at the port’s amphitheater on a regular basis.

President of Baha Mar Graeme Davis, who attended the opening of the cruise port, praised the new development and explained that the growth in cruise passengers that the new port will promote, will mean more cruise passengers visiting Baha Mar’s Baha Bay waterpark for the day.

“It’s transformative, really, for the country and certainly for Nassau,” Davis said.

“We’re thrilled to see this type of investment come to Nassau and certainly here at this cruise port.”

He added, “What really makes this special is with this, you know, potentially five million cruise passengers coming here seeing the quality, they’ll say, ‘next time, I want to stay in Nassau’, and that’s where Baha Mar has an opportunity to get a cruise conversion from a cruise passenger to a stay-over.

“And when a stay-over guest comes to The Bahamas, they are exponentially putting more money into the economy.

“We already have relationships with multiple cruise lines here for Baha Bay, our $200 million luxury waterpark. And on any given day, we may have up to several hundred cruise passengers come for the day to Baha Bay.

“They may stop in to our Current to look at our art program with John Cox, our executive director of art and culture; our Mini Blue, our professional miniature golf course; or come to Pizza Lab and have a pizza and spend the day at Baha Mar. We’d love to see cruise passengers come on over.”

Disney Cruise Line’s Vice President of Port Strategy and Development Jose Fernandez said during the port opening ceremony that given the transformation of the cruise port to incorporate authentic Bahamian products, he is certain that guests will want to return to this destination.

“Disney itself is working to complete a destination in South Eleuthera that will focus on Bahamian authenticity,” Fernandez said.

“And while we’re very excited about the beautiful design, and I love the color scheme, the focus on authentic Bahamian experiences is what will make this stop even more memorable.

“We’re storytellers at Disney, and our guests expect us to immerse them in stories of culture and destination when they sail with us.

“The new Junkanoo museum, the authentic Bahamian retail, the food and beverage options, the amphitheater and art gallery, all featuring unique locally produced goods will no doubt enhance our guests’ experience when they come to Nassau, and, more importantly, they’re going to want to come back.”

Former Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar, who spearheaded the move to have the cruise port redeveloped by a private entity, while his party, the Free National Movement, was in power, said Friday that it was “wonderful” to hear that Prime Minister Philip Davis and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation Chester Cooper both support the project.

He said he is proud to see what the work carried out by Nassau Cruise Port Limited and the vision of Kutman produced.

“This took two years to bring to fruition. I’m incredibly proud of how this will impact Bahamians … the fact that Bahamian money is invested in this,” D’Aguilar said.

“We got Bahamian management, Bahamian store operators. The proof is in the pudding.”

He added, “… The cruise companies are responding positively with phenomenal arrival figures. We’re gonna break the 2019 record, finally.”

Cooper, who also spoke at the opening ceremony, said Nassau is expected to welcome a record five million cruise visitors this year.