NASSAU, Bahamas – On Thursday, July 16, 2010 the Bahamas PM, the Rt. Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham, MP welcomed Norwegian Cruise Line’s Epic at a plaque exchange ceremony aboard the NCL Epic.
PM Ingraham made the following remarks:
I am very happy to welcome Norwegian Cruise Line’s latest Freestyle cruise ship – the NCL Epic. And, I extend a warm welcome to Mr. Kevin Sheehan, CEO of NCL and congratulate you on your new post as Chairman of the FCCA.
I am pleased to also extend a warm welcome to the Epic’s Captain, Trygve Vorren and to his crew.
Captain Vorren, all in the Government of The Bahamas Government stand ready to support you and to ensure that your passengers and crew are warmly welcomed in the port of Nassau.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s relationship with The Bahamas began over forty years ago and has strengthened significantly over the last four years.
Hence, the projected increase of NCL calls at Bahamian ports from 96 just four years ago to some 404 on Nassau, Grand Bahama Island and Great Stirrup Cay this year is especially welcomed and appreciated by us.
I am advised that your passenger counts have experienced similar dramatic increases – from 102,042 passengers in 2001 to 153,266 in 2007 and to 386,484 in 2009 – an increase of more than 250 percent!
Increased passengers translate into increased land and sea excursions and tours which directly impact the lives of Bahamians entrepreneurs.
We are working to making and keeping our port facilities and amenities at a standard deserving of your elegant new vessel.
Tour operators, taxi drivers, vendors and Bay Street merchants are being encouraged and supported in their efforts to offer first class services, memorable experiences and top-quality goods.
In addition my Government is implementing a host of new programmes and projects in Nassau, Grand Bahama Island and our Family Islands to make calls at our ports more enjoyable.
Already work has commenced on the creation of a new cargo port at Arawak Cay. This will remove much of the traffic congestion from the centre of our city and lend to the restoration of our old world charm.
Construction of a new 37,000 sq. ft. Straw Market whose architecture is inspired by the original fish and straw market which graced our city during the early and mid 20th century, is also already underway. We expect that the new market will be completed and open by late spring next year- 2011. Additionally, an “All-Bahamian” craft market will be completed for the display of premium quality Bahamian-made craft and souvenirs.
Continuing upgrades will improve visitor experiences at our Down Home Fish Fry which, as some of you will be aware, sits on the waterfront opposite Fort Charlotte. And, just outside of the city limits, a new beach park is nearing completion at Saunders Beach. Both these amenities built with both our visitors and residents in mind, are just a short bus or taxi ride from the Prince George Wharf.
NCL, I congratulate you on your newest, state-of-the-art addition to the cruise industry. Be assured of my Government’s continued commitment to the business of tourism and to a mutually beneficial relationship with yourselves.
On behalf of the Government and people of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, I extend a very warm welcome, and thank you for your partnership and commitment to the cruise industry of The Bahamas.