Nassau’s New $300 Million Cruise Port Project Nears Completion

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The Nassau Cruise Port in the Bahamas, which is undergoing a massive transformation, is nearing completion. Turkish builder ENKA has announced that it expects the port to be fully completed before the opening ceremony next month.

This completion of the new cruise port means good news for the Bahamas, as it will be able to welcome multiple Oasis and Icon class cruise ships simultaneously, significantly increasing the number of daily visitors. Cruise ship passengers will be welcomed to a huge area of new and improved facilities that cost the port more than $300 million to build.

A Costly Endeavor

Nassau’s long-awaited new cruise port and facilities are nearing completion. The project has entered the last few weeks of building, landscaping, and inspections. In May, builder ENKA will officially hand over the completed project to the Bahamian government and port operator Global Port Holdings.

First announced in 2019, the Nassau Cruise Port Project was awarded to ENKA in June 2020, with the builder executing the project in two stages, Stage 1, the Marine Works, and Stage 2, the Upland Works. ENKA made the two-stage approach to ensure the port remained fully operational throughout the entire build process.

Nassau Cruise Port Upgrade
Photo Credit: ENKA

Phase 1 focused on accommodating larger cruise vessels, such as the Oasis and Icon class ships, through dredging and extending the cruise pier. The port now also features a new berth for mega-yachts. Phase 1 also involved upgrading existing structures and creating East and West Marinas for additional docking capacity.

Phase 2 centered on constructing new facilities that enhance the overall experience for both visitors and locals. Although the project’s total cost is around $300 million, over budget by about $50 million, this approach enabled Nassau to set several record-breaking visitor days this year. 

The grand opening of the port is scheduled for the last weekend in May, which is considerably later than initially planned, according to Mike Maura, Port Director for Nassau.

“We had expected to be finished long before the last weekend of May 2023, but the pandemic has had its fun with us. Once completed, we will be able to handle comfortably three Oasis ships at the same time and three other vessels for a total of six,” said Maura.

Facilities and Improvements

New amenities at the port include a modern terminal building, a Junkanoo Museum showcasing Bahamian cultural heritage, and a theater for live performances and events. Visitors can also enjoy various international and local restaurants, shops, and entertainment facilities.

Altogether, these upgrades aim to increase the number of daily passengers arriving in Nassau by cruise ship by more than 50%. In other words, capacity has increased from 20,000 to an incredible 33,000 passengers daily.

Nassau Cruise Port Upgrade
Photo Credit: ENKA

The numbers are expected to grow significantly to four million cruise visitors in 2023 during 1,260 cruise ship calls and 4.5 million visitors in 2024 during 1,300 cruise ship calls.

One area that Nassau has often been criticized about was the look of the port area in general. ENKA has placed extensive importance on extensive hardscaping and landscaping work to enhance the port’s look and accessibility further.

The upgraded port will also integrate with Bay Street and downtown Nassau. Hopefully, the new enhancements will improve the general level of service and the sense of security that cruise passengers can expect in Nassau. 

CEO Mike Maura stated earlier this year that the port has failed to provide experiences, services, and value to cruise guests. Despite being the fifth busiest passenger cruise port globally, Maura claims that the port’s operational capacity and local attractions did not meet the demands of cruise passengers.

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