Royal Caribbean’s brand new Symphony of the Seas sailed into Nassau November 14, marking a momentous occasion for both Royal Caribbean and The Bahamas.
On board for the inaugural cruise of the sleek white-hulled ship were a handful of invited guests including 200 members of international media who joined dignitaries, local VIPs and sailing guests for a lively ceremony in the ship’s iconic amphitheater at the stern.
“We are very excited to welcome you onboard Symphony of the Seas,” said Royal Caribbean International President & CEO Michael Bayley. “It’s the newest ship in our fleet and of course the largest cruise ship in the world. Today marks Symphony’s inaugural visit to Nassau, Bahamas, a destination that we visit also with the three sister ships of Symphony, that’s Oasis of the Seas, Allure and Harmony.”
Mr. Bayley cited Royal Caribbean’s strong ties to The Bahamas, recalling that the cruise line’s first ship made Nassau its first port of call in 1970.
“Today 25 of our ships are registered here in The Bahamas. We bring over 1.2 million vacationers to your beautiful islands so thank you for hosting us. We plan on keeping coming back to The Bahamas. Our plan by 2021 is almost 1.75 million visitors to The Bahamas coming with Royal Caribbean. We also plan to extend the amount of time spent in port so our guests can do, see and spend more in your beautiful islands.”
With ships like Symphony of the Seas, Royal Caribbean hopes to increase the number of visitoris to more than 1.77 million by 2021.
She arrived with invited guests only on board, including travel industry partners, international media and high-ranking officials to a rousing welcome hosted by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism which pulled out all the stops. Dignitaries including Cabinet member Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands and Environment and Housing Minister Romauld Ferreira, Senators, Members of Parliament, officials including Defence Force Commodore Tellis Bethel, Director of Works Melanie Roach, former Cabinet ministers and heads of nearly every department of government along with vendors, attractions operators, leading business people, hoteliers, Bahamas Taxi Union, Musicians’ Union, Straw Market and Hair Braiders Association representatives were treated to musical performances and a three-course luncheon. Dignitaries including Miami- Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez were ushered aboard by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Band. Inside, the Royal Bahamas Police Force Band entertained along with the Gerald Cash Rhythm ‘n Youth band. Travel partners and guests rushed with Colours Junkanoo, capping off the ceremony that included a key, gift and plaque exchange between the ship’s agents, United Shipping, and Captain Rob Hempstead.