NASSAU, Bahamas - The Bahamas continues to be the number one cruise destination for millions of visitors and cruise lines around the world. That reputation is set to expand in 2017.
Director General in the Ministry of Tourism Joy Jibrilu said the country’s leadership in the market is a result of a solid foundation built up through years of dedicated professionals succeeding in the industry.
“This year, we will continue to grow and develop new ideas for the industry. The end result, we hope, is for each and every guest to enjoy their time in The Bahamas and spread the word,” she said.
Major cruise lines that sail to The Bahamas include the Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Royal Caribbean International.
The lines call upon the cruise ports on Grand Bahama and the city of Nassau and the private islands of Great Stirrup Cay, Coco Cay, Half Moon Cay, Castaway Cay, Princess Cays and the soon to be open Ocean Cay.
The Bahamas features miles of sandy white beaches with breathtaking turquoise waters, friendly locals and tasty native dishes.
Each year, new and exciting touristic developments emerge in the country.
MSC Cruises is undertaking just such a development. The line has ambitious plans to create an unprecedented exclusive marine reserve island experience in The Bahamas.
Following an agreement with the government, MSC is developing an island south of Bimini to be named Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. The company broke ground on the development on January 15, 2017.
Ocean Cay, a 95-acre island, will include family beaches, a tranquil lagoon, thrilling zip wire crossing, a pavilion for weddings and an exclusive spa and wellness sanctuary with private bungalows and massage huts, among other things. The island is set to receive guests on November 2018.
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has also been renovating its private island Great Stirrup Cay, located just off the Berry Islands in the north-western Bahamas. The private paradise offers fun for the entire family including a lagoon, private beach and a two-story restaurant with scenic views of the island.
Several new cruises by major operators were also added to The Bahamas in 2016, including the Carnival Vista, which has capacity for up to 5,000 guests and Royal Caribbean Harmony, which has a capacity for up to 5,400.
The destination’s desire is for visitors to have the best possible experience onshore with a myriad of tours and excursions, and experiences to choose from.
Part of the onshore fun includes museum and city tours, bar and restaurant delights and excursions available to guests including snorkeling and diving adventures, swimming with the dolphins and scores of shopping options in the Bay Street area.
Festival Place, the welcome center for visitors in Nassau, is nearing completion of renovations and will open soon. Once completed, it will be a hub of activity, information and a one-stop shop for all visitors in Nassau.
The Bahamas ranks among the top 10 Caribbean countries for experiences in culture, entertainment, culinary and adventure. The Bahamas also ranks number one out of all English-speaking countries in the region, attracting the second highest number of all visitors to the Caribbean.
In 2016, 29 million visitors traveled to the Caribbean.
Figures from 2016 show that cruise visits to The Bahamas were up by 5.8 percent in 2016 over 2015. A total of 4,219,218 visitors cruised to The Bahamas through to November last year, compared to 4,066,530 for the same period in 2015. As a result, thousands of jobs and millions of dollars have been injected into The Bahamian economy as a result of the cruise industry.