For years, “It’s better in the Bahamas” has been not only that island’s advertising slogan, but a sentiment that millions of cruisers agreed with. But it’s beginning to look as if the longtime love affair between cruisers and the Bahamas may be fading. And while the two aren’t ready to end their relationship entirely, there’s signs that they may be seeking a temporary situation.
Next Stop: Cuba
Earlier this week, Norwegian Cruise Line announced that over two dozen of the Norwegian Sky sailings which had previously been slated to stop in the Bahamas would instead now make overnight calls upon Cuba. This isn’t entirely surprising, given that Cuba has become the hot spot amongst cruise lines ever since travel restrictions between that country and America were eased last year.
In covering the itinerary change, one Bahamian newspaper feared this might be only the beginning of a downward trend for the islands. “The Jones Act,” they wrong in part, “requires that foreign-flagged cruise ships (many of which are flagged by the Bahamas) have to call on a foreign port before they can return to their home base in the United States. With Cuba previous off limits, the Bahamas was the only nation that could allow the cruise industry to satisfy the Jones Act requirements” with regards to short sailings from several American ports.
The Jamaica Observer quoted the Bahamas Tourism Board as calling the move by NCL “regrettable” given that the area is “still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Matthew,” adding that they “look forward to Norwegian returning to that island in 2018.”
While Cuba may be the shiny new toy that everyone’s looking to play with at the moment, it seems unlikely to have a long-term impact on the popularity of the Bahamas. Sure, longtime cruisers may be looking for something different, but it’s important to remember that a vast majority of the American population has not actually ever cruised, and it’s fair to assume that if and when they do decide to give the seafairing life a try, the Bahamas will be amongst the first places they think to visit.
At the end of the day, the cruise industry is no different than any other business, and it will go where the money dictates. Right now, Cuba is a hot property, but only time will tell whether it has the ability to become a major player in the game over the long haul. (And that’s assuming that something doesn’t happen to reverse the policy which made traveling to Cuba a possibility in the first place!)
If given a choice between traveling to Cuba or the Bahamas, which would you choose and why?