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Carnival Corporation’s Advice to Nassau Leads to Push Back

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After a Carnival Corporation executive suggested that Nassau needed to essentially reinvent itself, the island’s Minister of Tourism offered “a little bit of a push back.”

The Problem with Nassau

drone photo multiple ships nassau bahamas

Cruise ships docked in Nassau, Bahamas

The back-and-forth began after Carnival Corporation’s senior vice-president for port and destination development, Giora Israel, discussed with The Tribune ways that Nassau might make itself a more attractive destination. “One of the issues we’ve stated to the Bahamian government is [that] what Nassau needs more than the maritime facilities is the enhancement of the destination for activities,” Israel said. “Over the years, there has been very little product to offer people coming again and again.”

To illustrate this point, the exec explained that prior to the industry-wide shutdown, Carnival was typically only able to “sell 26 to 28 percent of passengers a tour.” Instead, many either stay on the ship or go to a private resort, with each of those scenarios essentially taking money out of the pockets of businesses run by the locals.

“What a great destination needs,” said Israel, “and it is true anywhere in the world, is that people come to a destination wanting things to do, tours and so on. There are some ports in the Caribbean that reinvent themselves and add new attractions.”

“The Cruise Lines Complain About it All The Time”

This certainly couldn’t have come as a surprise to Bahamian Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar, who two years ago told the same news outlet, “Too many visitors who come by cruise are bored by Nassau and see no reason to come off the ship.” At the time, he added that “the customer experience also is not what it should be. The cruise lines complain about it all the time. The customer experience is something we are not proud of.”

This week, however, D’Aguilar was singing a slightly different tune… and one in which he took aim at the cruise lines. “What we sometimes find is that the threshold to get into business with the cruise companies is insurmountable” for small businesses, he suggested to The Tribune. The problem? How much cruise lines mark-up the price of an excursion. “If you are selling something for $30, they may want to sell it to their passengers for $60,” he said. “They’re putting the price point too high, and therefore the customers feel they won’t get value.”

snorkeling nassau bahamas

A snorkeling excursion in Nassau

Instead, the minister said, the lines should charge less while businesses get up and running and earn themselves a reputation, then begin charging more. “It’s not enough to dump the entire problem on the destination,” he insists. “We also need the cruise companies to facilitate and assist in helping these businesses get traction before they demand a greater piece of the pie.”

Ultimately D’Aguilar admitted that the lack of new, interesting options for visitors has been a major problem, especially given the wide variety of entertainment available on board modern cruise ships. “They make it difficult for people to come off the ship, especially if they have been to the destination a couple of times,” he said. “We really have to be on our game and mobilize all our entrepreneurial pieces to make it happen. It’s going to require a lot of investment, and we need the help of the cruise companies as well.”

READ MORE: Best Family-Friendly Things To Do In Nassau, Bahamas

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