The first cruise ship to home port in The Bahamas, Royal Caribbean International’s (RCI) Adventure of the Seas – which was also the cruise line’s first ship to resume cruising in the Western Hemisphere – left Nassau’s cruise port on Saturday with more than 1,000 passengers, after RCI endured 15 months of no cruising activity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The occasion was marked by a ceremony in Pompey Square, which included a keynote address by Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.
Minnis noted in his address that cruising is an essential economic driver for The Bahamas, explaining that 5.4 billion cruise passengers passed through The Bahamas in 2019.
“It has been a long and challenging period for our country and for the entire world, including the global tourism industry and the cruising sector,” Minnis said.
“We are grateful to have Adventure of the Seas home port here in Nassau and visit additional islands in The Bahamas over the seven-night itinerary.”
Royal Caribbean Group’s Vice President of Governmental Relations for the Americas Russell Benford said during the ceremony that the cruise line’s home porting initiative offers new opportunities for Bahamians and cruise line guests.
He added that by the end of June, Royal Caribbean will once again sail from US cruise ports.
“By the end of this very month, we will be the first to resume cruises from the United States, with even more reasons for The Bahamas to celebrate the cruising comeback. In July and August, Royal Caribbean will have six ships sailing from major US ports in Florida and Texas, and by the and of August 12, Royal Caribbean International ships will be cruising once again across The Bahamas, the Caribbean, Alaska and Europe.”
Nassau Cruise Port (NCP), though currently under construction, put together a temporary arrivals and departures terminal, replete with luggage scanners, customs and immigration offices, restrooms, security and a health center to accommodate the home porting initiative.
NCP President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Maura gave members of the media a tour of the temporary facility on Friday and said creating the temporary area was like trying to create Disney in the midst of a construction zone.
He explained that Bahamian artist Lemero Wright was contracted to paint a seascape on all of the temporary buildings to bring the area to life.
“Here we are at a construction site, we have temporary facilities and Mr. Wright has been able to transform this into an art scape,” said Maura. “I think the guests are going to really appreciate it.”
Maura said Captain Hernan Zini, vice president of worldwide port operations for Royal Caribbean, said Saturday’s home porting start was a “great day” with “great success”.
Royal Caribbean released a press statement yesterday hailing the occasion of the local home port sailing. The company revealed that 94 percent of the guests who sailed on Saturday were 16 years of age or older and fully vaccinated.
“The ship now begins a summer lineup of seven-night sailings to Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s game-changing private island destination in The Bahamas; Grand Bahama Island, The Bahamas; and Cozumel, Mexico,” the statement noted.