Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line’s MV Grand Classica made its inaugural visit to Grand Bahama on Saturday, April 14 at the Freeport Harbour.
Noting that The Bahamas is expected to welcome about 400,000 passengers between this ship and the Grand Celebration for the year, Karen Seymour, Director of the Ministry of Tourism in Grand Bahama said that all stakeholders were excited about the new arrival.
During a welcome ceremony, tour and reception aboard the ship, Oneil Khosa, CEO of Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line commended the company and crew.
“I’m very proud of our company and our crew,” he said.
He added that they had about 600 crew members on the ship who worked extremely hard to ensure its full operation.
Khosa noted that Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line wants the ship to be inclusive. Only cruise line to offer a cruise and stay package.
“We encourage our guests to stay back in the hotels or stay back on land and we give them the opportunity to cruise back with us,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister of Commonwealth of The Bahamas and Minister of Finance K. Peter Turnquest also spoke during the ceremony.
He noted that over the years it has been a challenge of access to get people to the island in an efficient and cost-effective way at both the airport and the harbour. and hopefully government and private entities can work together to improve that.
“We must recognize that none of us can be successful if we make the barriers for entry so hard that it makes it difficult for us to attract the kind of business we want,” said Turnquest.
He added that it is important for Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line and The Bahamas Government to be partners.
“We would like for you to be our partners. We would like you to work with us, work with the community and recognize that we have to build what we have together,” he said.
He noted that the Grand Bahama Tourism economy has been suffering since Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in 2004 and Hurricane Matthew, which hit the island in October 2016 and made things even more difficult for it to recover.
The DPM added that the most recent storm resulted in three quarters of the Grand Lucayan’s property being shut down among other things.
Turnquest assured that The Bahamas Government is doing its best to rectify that.
“I want you to be assured that the Government of The Bahamas is working diligently with new partners to bring that back to its full operation in the very near future,” he said.
He stated that the government wants to bring excitement back to Grand Bahama as a destination, and they understand the necessity to maintain and preserve the environment of Grand Bahama.
“There is no sacrifice with respect to that. So you can be reassured, despite the noise, that the Government of The Bahamas is fully aware of the risk imposed by our industrial sites and we understand the lessons that we have learned from our experience and we are intent on reassuring that there are best practices in anything that we do,” he said.
Turnquest commended Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line on the arrival of the ship and encouraged Bahamians to get involved in Tourism and take advantage of the arrival of new ships coming in.
In conclusion Turnquest said, The Bahamas Government is looking forward and are excited for what’s to come in the near future.
Several government officials attended the special ceremony, including Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Works and Member of Parliament for Central Grand Bahama, Iram Lewis; Parliamentary Secretary of Information and Communications in the Office of the Prime Minister and MP for West Grand Bahama and Bimini, Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe and President of the Senate Senator Katherine Forbes. Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Officer-in-Charge of Grand Bahama Northern Bahamas Samuel Butler was also in attendance.
The MV Grand Classica sailed from the Port of Palm Beach and will operate on an alternating schedule along with the MV Grand Celebration, which will allow Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line customers to take advantage of daily departures.
The new ship includes dining, entertainment, bars and lounges and many more amenities to make the cruise experience fun and exciting. Along with the plaque exchange there will be an official tour and reception.