Carnival Cruise Line is building an answer to Royal Caribbean’s CocoCay and its new Nassau project.
The cruise lines’ private islands used to be stretches of sand with some bars, a few eating areas, and maybe a kids’ playground of some sort. Spending a day at one of them was basically a day at the beach — perhaps a beach party, perhaps a tranquil day sitting by the crystal clear ocean.
In many cases, visiting one of these destinations required using a tender — a small ship that ferries passengers from the ship to the island, making the entire process fairly burdensome.
Royal Caribbean (RCL) – Get Royal Caribbean Group Report changed that in 2019 when it debuted its revamped CocoCay destination.
The island not only had a dock that could accommodate two Oasis-class ships, enabling passengers to simply walk off the ship onto the island. The cruise line also added an added-fee waterpark, a giant pool, and a private beach club.
This game-changing move turned CocoCay from a routine beach into a multifaceted destination where passengers could opt for a quiet day or pick from all sorts of other experiences.
In addition, the changes also turned CocoCay into a revenue driver for the cruise line. The company sells admission to the beach club, the waterpark, tickets to zip lines, rides on a tethered hot air balloon, and a variety of different cabanas all across the island.
That set a standard for private islands as destinations. Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) – Get Carnival Corporation Report, after a fashion has a plan to rival what Royal Caribbean has built.
Image source: Daniel Kline/TheStreet
Carnival, Royal Caribbean Want to Build Destinations
Royal Caribbean and Carnival keep building larger cruise ships, and that limits where those ships can dock. That in turn makes it essential that the cruise lines have destinations that appeal to passengers. Private islands like CocoCay serve as sort of extensions of these new massive ships.
In addition to CocoCay, Royal Caribbean has a less developed island in Labadee, Haiti, and it’s building a private beach club in Nassau, Bahamas. That would be a private-island-like experience with beaches, a pool, and multiple dining options.
Carnival has a similar plan on Grand Bahama Island, and while the cruise line has been largely quiet about its ongoing development of the project, it met with local business leaders and residents in late July to update them on the project, CruiseHive reported.
The meeting took place at the Grand Lucayan, a resort/hotel that Royal Caribbean once had a deal to buy. It was held to answer questions about the project, which is expected to create around 1,000 jobs.
“The Bahamas has been a valued partner and vibrant destination for Carnival for 50 years, and we are grateful for the ongoing support from the government of The Bahamas, Ministry for Grand Bahama, and Grand Bahama Port Authority,” Carnival President Christine Duffy said in an earlier news release.
What Is Carnival Planning on Grand Bahama?
The cruise line has been calling the new project a “port destination.” It’s essentially a mix between a traditional port and a private island.
Carnival’s Grand Bahama cruise port destination, being developed on the south side of the island, “will continue to serve as a gateway to Grand Bahama while also offering guests a uniquely Bahamian experience with many exciting features and amenities, along with business opportunities for the residents of Grand Bahama,” the cruise line said.
Once completed, the new port destination will accommodate two of the cruise line’s largest Excel-class ships. One of those, Mardi Gras, exists now, while Celebration begins sailing later this year.
In addition to a beach, “guests will be able to explore and enjoy Grand Bahama by way of sea, via a dedicated shore excursion dock, or by land, via the dedicated ground transportation hub,” Carnival said.
“The cruise port itself will also feature an area designated as a nature reserve and an interior pool feature, along with many Bahamian-operated retail, food, and beverage options for guests to enjoy.”