Plans are underway for a new cruise ship port and resort to be developed on Grand Bahama Island. The three companies which have signed an agreement to participate include Grundstad Maritime Overseas (Crown Cruise Line), The Grand Bahama Development Company and The Enterprise Development Company.
The new harbor, located 25 miles from Freeport Harbor, would be specifically designed for cruise ships, and would also serve as an additional call on Grand Bahama or alternative to growing Freeport.
"There has never been a cruise ship port and landside facility designed from scratch solely for cruise passengers; said Richard Chalmers, Vice President of International Development for The Enterprise Development Company. According to Chalmers, passengers will be able to walk off the ship and immediately have access to the 3,700-acre site which will incorporate hotels, shops, casinos, discos, sports facilities, along with four miles of beachfront property; of this, one mile will be untouched beach which will be similar to the out islands.
Chalmers said that the three developers will be looking for approximately six cruise companies to call here. He pointed out that the port would not be exclusive to any one cruise line, including Grundstad affiliate Crown Cruise Line. John Thomas, Senior Vice President of Grundstad, said that while the number of berths is not yet defined, it will range from six to eight. Thomas noted that consideration for using the port as a homeport is being kept in mind during the design stages. However, the facility would probably attract more ships calling than homeporting, Thomas said. He also noted that further discussions with Bahamanian officials on tax ramifications of homeporting are necessary.
Both Thomas and Chalmers felt that the new port would not be competition for ever-growing Freeport Harbour. This past year 850,000 passengers called at Freeport, which was an eleven percent increase from the 1989 passenger counts of 768,473. According to the Grand Bahama Development Company, Freeport Harbour is presently operating close to its capacity. The Grand Bahama Development Co., which is part of The Grand Bahama Port Authority Group of Companies which operates the Freeport area and is the developer of 150,000 acres on the island, anticipates that Freeport will be operating at full capacity within three years. According to Chalmers, since Freeport was originally designed as a commercial port, it will continue to serve both commercial and cruise needs while the new port will only serve cruise ships.
Thomas said that the project fulfills the need for additional ports within the three- and four-day market. "We developed this project because of today's demand in the cruise industry for more ports-of-call and shorter time to get there," Thomas remarked.
Other sources also hinted at the use of ports outside of the United States that might allow older vessels to continue operations without meeting U.S. Coast Guard and Public Health requirements. Such vessels would also escape the possible enactment of other U.S. legislation which would require U.S. minimum wages paid on board vessels sailing from U.S. ports.