On Wednesday, Carnival Cruise Line confirmed that it will build the largest ever cruise ship facility in the Bahamas – a complete "destination experience" in East Grand Bahama, with a pier for two cruise ships, a one-mile strip of beach, and a full complement of recreation activities and retail outlets. It will have enough capacity to accommodate a million passengers each year.
“This new development will not only provide a truly extraordinary and one-of-a-kind destination experience for our guests but it will further solidify our partnership with the people of The Bahamas," said Carnival Cruise Line president Christine Duffy. Perry G. Christie, the Bahamas' prime minister, echoed Duffy’s sentiments. "This . . . shore project will create a new ‘destination’ with a distinctive flavor and characteristics that offer the broadest Bahamian entrepreneurial and employment opportunities, representing another phase in the development of Grand Bahama as a viable tourist center," Christie said.
Carnival's new "controlled destination" represents a middle ground between the cruise line private island – an isolated destination built for the dedicated purpose of cruise tourism, like MSC's multi-billion-dollar Ocean Cay Marine Reserve – and a working seaport: Its environs will be under the line's direct control, but are still connected with the infrastructure and the economy of the host nation.
In an editorial for the local Tribune 242, Freeport-based commercial lawyer Carey Leonard reports that Carnival has been seeking a private port in Grand Bahama for at least a decade, as an alternative to the existing Freeport Harbour port facility. Leonard warns that even though the new port will not be entirely isolated (like Ocean Cay), the withdrawal of Carnival's operations from downtown Freeport will likely have a significant effect on local tourism and transportation businesses.