Carnival Cruise Lines has agreed a deal to build a $100 million cruise port in Grand Bahama, according to Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis.
Minnis made the announcement on Friday at a youth convention, saying, “I am pleased to announce that after many months of negotiations, we have delivered … a massive project for the people of Grand Bahama …. the Carnival port development is going full steam ahead.”
He said the government would provide more details of the deal in upcoming days.
A spokesman for Carnival confirmed to the Compass that an agreement has been reached.
Earlier news reports indicated the project is expected to cost around US$100 million. The Bahamas government had announced in February that it was in negotiations with Carnival over the project, which it claims will create 1,000 jobs.
Carnival is also one of the key partners in the Verdant Isle Port Partners consortium that was recently announced as the ‘preferred bidder’ for the expanded cruise and cargo port project in Grand Cayman.
Unlike the Cayman project, the Grand Bahama port appears to have broad support,
Kwasi Thompson, Minister of State for Grand Bahama, told the Nassau Guardian newspaper he was extremely pleased with the announcement, highlighting the benefit to restaurateurs and taxi operators.
“I think that it is going to have a tremendous impact on unemployment on the island,” he said.
The project has drawn little opposition, with environmental groups indicating they are not opposed to it.
Members of the Save the Bays group, which opposed an earlier plan for a Carnival-backed port on the pristine east end of Grand Bahama, told the Nassau Guardian earlier this year that they did not object to the new location, near Freeport.
A separate cruise pier project in the Bahamas is creating more controversy. Save the Bays is one of a number of groups opposing Disney’s planned port development at scenic Lighthouse Point on Eleuthera.
Signatures are being collected for a petition to stop that project.
Carnival is not without its critics in the Bahamas, particularly since it was fined US$20 million by a US court after admitting a string of environmental violations, including dumping plastic waste in Bahamian waters.
A column in Bahamas newspaper The Tribune this week labelled Carnival a “serial bad actor” and opined, “A thousand jobs will not pay the price for unquantifiable damage to the country’s natural environment”.