From the Office of the Chairman of the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA), at the historic heads of agreement signing for the East Grand Bahama Port project last week, came praise for a “win-win” development.
At the event, Tuesday past, at the Grand Lucayan Hotel, Sarah St. George said the project is a “win-win” undertaking, expressed appreciation to Carnival Cruise Line and emphasized the long-time relationship the shipping company has had with Freeport.
“Carnival has shown unwavering confidence in this new venture. As we welcome the executives of Carnival to Freeport, some for the first time, it’s interesting to note that Carnival has been calling at Freeport Harbour for over 40 years, since 1972. Cruise ships looked a little different then. I believe they still have some of their vintage Cunard ships that were 150 years old. The earliest ship to come to Freeport was the Mardi Gras that carried 900 persons. Today’s Carnival ships carry between 2,500-4,000 passengers and the harbour here processes some 1.1 million-passenger movements a year. Of course, the Carnival brand includes other lines like P&O, Costa and princess.
“Beyond this, of course Carnival and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines founded the Grand Bahama Shipyard. It was in the quest to develop our Maritime Industry that my father (the late GBPA Chairman Edward St. George) and Giori Israel of Carnival brought the Ship Repair Yard to fruition, bringing in a series of massive dry docks to take the largest cruise ships in the world out of the water for repair. Since then, it has emerged as the leading ship-repair facility in this hemisphere in a mere 15 years from start-up; a herculean achievement by Carnival and Royal Caribbean,” said St. George.
The present GBPA chief also noted the significance of a section of Grand Bahama, other than Freeport being afforded a major port experience and called the proposed cruise entity in East Grand Bahama “a major leap forward in Grand Bahama’s history and a new opportunity for us all.”
St. George pointed out that her father and his long-time GBPA executive colleague, Sir Jack Hayward, desired a comprehensive development of Freeport, inclusive of the rest of Grand Bahama. “It was the fervent wish of my father and Sir Jack Hayward that the development in the free port city, would not be confined to Freeport, but would be the catalyst for growth and expansion throughout the length and breadth of our beautiful island. I wish they were here today to see that, that which they began is indeed being mirrored in Eastern Grand Bahama,” St. George further stated.
No exact timeline was disclosed for the project, but the Heads of Agreement (HOA) signed by Bahamian Government and Carnival Cruise Line representatives, is to cost $100 million. The proposed project is yet another promise made by the government of Prime Minister Perry Christie. The prospects are considered enticing.
At the signing affair Christie seemed quite satisfied that the negotiations with Carnival Cruise Line had reached the critical HOA stage.
“And so ladies and gentlemen, my government welcomes this opportunity to set in motion events which will memorialize the longstanding and mutually beneficial relationship between Carnival Cruise Line and The Bahamas.
“The new cruise port development here in Grand Bahama will encompass multiple projects,” promised PM Christie.
He pledged that inclusive in the cruise port complex will be water taxi and workboat piers, berthing platforms, seawalls and a vast area that
would enable two super ships to effect turnarounds.
Also, an accommodation of rooms totaling 20, a golf course, restaurants, a theatre and variety of recreational recreations will be attractive dimensions to the proposed cruise port in East Grand Bahama.